2017 PWX Recap

September 27, 2017

By Heidi Hamilton, Senior Associate with Stantec and APWA-MN Chapter Director-Vendor/Contractor

The Minnesota Chapter descended upon Orlando in full force from August 27- 30 to enjoy the education, fun, and inspiration at another great PWX! It was fun to see how the new format has evolved since the introduction of PWX, as a replacement for Congress, last year in Minneapolis. I am sure I am not alone in the new appreciation I had for the work that goes into this annual event.  

Captain Hook, Tinker Bell, Captain Jack Sparrow and other Disney characters provided a warm welcome before the Opening General Session, where Thom Singer set us off on the right foot with a reminder of the power of personal connection. He encouraged us to take full advantage of the coming days by looking up from our devices and CONNECTING with each other. A good reminder for every day of our lives.

The welcome party included opportunities for photos with Disney characters, including mermaids and a merman, as well as freshly rolled cigars! The hot and humid weather kept most indoors, enjoying connecting and reconnecting with new and old friends.

APWA continues to promote the use of new technology and social media, such as the PWX app and audience participation tools. These are fun to explore. I loved the Catch Box microphones used in many of the breakout sessions to quickly get microphones to participants who wanted to ask questions, by tossing them across the room. At times, I was challenged by the push to look away from my device and make personal connections, while at the same being pushed to post and tweet my status. If you have any tips, let me know. 

The Minnesota Chapter, once again, made an impressive showing at the Awards Ceremony, where eight awards came home to Minnesota. Congratulations to all award winners and thanks to the Awards Committee for promoting the great work of our chapter. A standing ovation was given to the single representative from Houston as he accepted their PACE award, a tribute to the challenge the PW community faces as they deal with the impact of Hurricane Harvey.

The former Homeland Security Advisor to President Obama, Lisa Monaco, gave us plenty to think about regarding security threats, and a former creative force for Disney, Bill Allen, shared his tips for creating a great story. Amidst the general sessions were plenty of other options for education through presentations, vendors in the exhibit hall, and connecting with the broad array of PW professionals gathered together.

Sixty or so folks attended a fabulous Chapter dinner at Tapa Toro, where we could easily mingle and socialize while enjoying delicious and plentiful food and drinks. Flamenco dancers spiced up the evening, and we were delighted to see the fleet-footedness of our own PW colleagues as they demonstrated their mesmerizing salsa dancing skills. Thanks to Kristin Asher for excellent planning and execution!

PWX is a chance to learn, connect, and recharge; returning to the important work we do for the public every day, with new ideas and vigor. May the lessons learned and connections made make us all better and stronger in the years ahead. 

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