Vertical Connect – come and gone

In a blur!

But wow. What an event!

Not quite sure where to start…

As I wrote in on of the last posts, if you go to an arb event – ITCC, ETCC, TCI Expo or the like – you know roughly what is in store for you. Not so here… I went into site on Friday morning not knowing whether we would be overrun – or whether no one would turn up. As it was, we had about 180 visitors from all areas of work at height, also the manufacturers were represented, as well as health and safety organisations. Such a mixed group, yet within a very short time everybody was interacting and chatting away, vertical connections indeed!

Really interesting, diverse talks on both days, as well as demonstrations in the afternoons. REGA, the Swiss air ambulance service, used the site as their base for the weekend, so plenty of activity there… as well a good-sized vendor area, again with good representation of number of manufacturers and dealers.

Here are some impressions, pics by Markus Burger.

What was highly interesting to me was seeing people’s response to the arborist demos and topics. Blown away, sums it up best. Key points being the apparently effortless and fluid movements in climbing, the practiced safety culture, the emphasis on communication… all things you can easily take for granted until you see it through someone else’s eyes.

The other striking point was the high percentage of arborists in attendance. The explanation for this, in my opinion, is that, as an industry, these kinds of meetings are part of our culture and people see the benefit in attending, which is not necessarily true of other industries.

Here are some more impressions, pics this time by Knut Foppe…

The location in Meiringen was spectacular – even if the weather did turn a bit wet on the Saturday. The Alps really are big lumps of rock, no doubt about that.

We have set a date for next year, the next edition of vertical connect will be taking place in the same location on the 2 and 3 September 2016.

I am excited already…

Let’s try something new

vertical connect is getting dangerously close – in fact just round the corner. Folk will be traveling up to the Bernese Alps tomorrow to start set-up on Thursday, the event kicks off on Friday.

Programs, t-shirts, stickers, bags, beach flags, banners? Check.

Badges, tower, barrier tape, permits, PA system, projector? Check.

OK, you get the idea, the list goes on… what I am trying to get to is that this is starting to feel like an event.

Of course, this kind of venture is exciting, as it is breaking new ground.

Not entirely new, after all, other groups have run inter-disciplinary events, such as the Lyon Work and Rescue Symposium in the UK Lake District, but still, vertical connect is not simply trying to reheat ground already trodden by the Lyon crew… the emphasis for vertical connect is the fact that the event is inter-disciplinary, non-commercial and financially independent.

For the group running it, it is the first time we are working together on this kind of project, the venue is a first, the presenters and the audience is a very heterogeneous group, with a wide range of professionals from all areas of work at height attending. All of this makes for an interesting mix.

I have been pestering people with the idea for such an event for… oh, certainly the past six years, so it is very satisfying to see it come to fruition. I also have to say that in no small part this is due to a fantastic group of people I have had the pleasure of working with. For me this is very much a motivator when undertaking such a project, getting to know a new group of individuals and working towards a common goal. What made vertical connect interesting is that the people involved are all very competent in their respective domains and hence busy. Yet everybody delivered what they committed to and got things done – without any chips on anyone’s shoulders or ever having the feeling that anyone had an axe to grind, giving the benefit of the doubt where necessary and generally mucking in.

With annual event or established formats you often roughly know what to expect.

OK, so it may be a new location, town or venue, but it all unfolds along well-trodden paths. I find the sense of anticipation ahead of a new format exhilarating and challenging, all at once. You know you are going to have to be on the ball, be flexible and quick-witted (d’uh! not that I always feel that way by any means…), unforeseen situations may evolve, making improvisation necessary. But I am confident that with sufficient planning, adequate and enough gear on site and a good team, these challenges can be met and dealt with.

I love that moment, when an event starts to evolve its own dynamic and you realise that strangers are starting to interact and communicate together. To me that is what this is all about and that validates the effort invested in preparation: communication, creating connections and building bridges.