In my 12th grade Humanities class, we were introduced to the salons of 17th and 18th Century France. I’ll admit it: I didn’t get it. A bunch of people getting together in someone’s living room to talk about ideas? How was this event important enough and repeated enough to make it into the history books? Surely there were more important things going on in this period of time, like the Franco-Dutch war.

Fast-forward 18 years or so (yes, that puts me in 30th grade). We were cleaning up after a Download event we’d just hosted that afternoon, when it hit me: We’d just had a salon. Now I get it!

What we’d experienced that afternoon, though, had a lot more energy to it than I had imagined of the typical salon, based on paintings of such gatherings. We had more than 30 people participating at a time in 3 different rooms for 30 minutes for each session – all sharing ideas and thoughts on diverse topics such as Experiential Learning in Practice, Visual Storytelling, and Ethics in Learning. We even had an impromptu and lively discussion about the techniques and methods of communicating through comics (thank you, Jerzy!). Applause, laughter, and a ringing gong reverberated the walls of our offices. Eggs were cracked in one discussion. And throughout, there was delicious food and drink.

The point of the Download is not just to talk about ideas. The point is to discuss with each other, build off each other’s ideas, take what comes out of those discussions and bring it back home to our own work. And we think this is an event worth repeating. If you weren’t able to join us in the past, circle June 1st on your calendar. We’re having another Download then.

Contributed by Dave Kerschbaum.