TENWEST inspires sustainable collaboration, debuts block party

The annual TENWEST IMPACT Festival invites curious and impassioned locals to discuss mindful entrepreneurship and sustainability.

The five-day conference starts Tuesday, Nov. 1, at the Tucson Museum of Art, and features brainstorming workshops, lectures and a variety of after-party events.

The theme of this year’s festival is, Create, Build and Sustain. A day is dedicated to each theme, with the fourth focusing on sustainability.

“You’re going to see all sorts of content for artists, musicians, culinary professionals, people that want to do fashion, kind of everything in the creative space,” said Liz Pocock, CEO of Startup Tucson.

The $35 general admission pass grants entry to all conference activities at the Tucson Convention Center.

“We start off with local coffee roasters, breakout sessions throughout the day, keynote lunches, keynote happy hours and then wrapped around all of those events are X events every evening,” Pocock said.

TENWESTx events include concerts and food tastings, including the Idea Funding After Party at The Monica, which will celebrate local food entrepreneurs, Carlotta Flores and Don Guerra, who will both receive the 2022 Thomas R. Brown Outstanding Entrepreneur Award in honor of their efforts toward the “local ecosystem.”

An all-inclusive pass is $300.

“The whole vibe is that it’s supposed to be really collaborative and really open,” Pocock said.

Day one festivities include live performances, food and drinks and a preview of the week’s festivities, including words from Pocock and Mayor Regina Romero.

“This is a perfect event to get started because there are so many things to pick from,” Pocock said. “It’s really a choose your own adventure.”

Co-led by Startup Tucson and the University of Arizona’s Center for Innovation, TENWEST will offer workshops intended to encourage and inspire its participants.

“While the conference itself is really big, the individual sessions are smaller,” Pocock said.

“That’s why we have so many breakouts, so it’s a great place to meet other people that are interested in the same thing as you.”

Street Fest debuts

This year also sees the debut of TENWEST Street Fest in the heart of the Warehouse Arts District on Toole Avenue.

Matt Baquet, director of Hotel Congress’ HOCO Fest, who connected with Pocock earlier this year, applied for a Build Back Better grant to the Southern Arizona Coalition for Climate Adaptation and Resilience (SACCAR).

The coalition has programmed a few sessions during Sustain Day on Friday, Nov. 4.

“My submission for that particular project was not going to meet the criteria but from there she connected me with a now business partner of mine, Yadi Wang in Arizona SOL L3C and Development of Regenerative Yields (DRY) Co-Op,” Baquet said.

“We are determined to help increase access for first-generation farmers and build a community-owned, secured food system for Southern Arizona.”

Pocock later asked Baquet if he would be interested in collaborating with the TENWEST Festival.

“They have a lot more experience with this particular event, it’s been cool to take cues from them but also dream up some new stuff,” Baquet said.

On day two of the festival, Baquet’s promotion company, Best Life Presents, will offer an hour-long conversation, “Backstage with Best Life Presents & Psyko Steve,” led by two of Arizona’s most active independent promoters, Dan Hernandez of Best Life Presents and Phoenix promoter, Stephen Chilton (Psyko Steve Presents), about the inner workings of event organizing.

Baquet and Hernandez spearheaded the TENWEST Street Fest with the help of local businesses in the Historic Warehouse Arts District such as CREAM Design & Print, Kinetic Arts Tucson, Solar Culture and Borderlands Brewing Co.

“Brenna (Mirae) from Kinetic Arts Tucson had been trying to make a block party happen since the pandemic and did a little bit of the legwork, had some plans and conceptualized ideas,” Baquet said.

He and Hernandez approached Po-cock with the idea and pitched it for TENWEST.

“Part of the motivation is to highlight, showcase and preserve the Warehouse Arts District,” Baquet said.

Toward the end of July, the plans were finalized.

Part conference, part party, the TENWEST Festival is an approachable community event. Baquet said local high schoolers will attend Create day on Thursday, Nov. 3.

“Kids in a high school stage should be presented with alternatives early,” Baquet said.

“If they’re artists or musicians or someone who has big visions for creative work, they can be introduced to those things as a reality rather than the (traditional) college path.”

The accessible programming includes DJ workshops, home recording workshops and even TikTok filmmaking.

The fourth day focuses on sustainability as it relates to the environment and natural resources, and will include conversations about alternative farming, composting, city waste and how to move forward and meet goals as a city.

Joellen Russell — oceanographer and climate scientist at the University of Arizona and co-founder of the nonprofit organization Science Moms — will offer climate facts, what’s at risk and how to turn environmental concerns into actions at her lecture.

“We’re trying to ask regular folks to take action in their regular lives, especially moms,” Russell said. “We’re going to talk about how we as citizens, as Americans, as moms and dads, just fellow humans on planet Earth, how we can take control of our carbon future and make it better.”

A nonpartisan group made up of climate scientists and mothers, Science Moms advocates around how we talk about climate change and how to best represent individual efforts to a larger audience.

Some of the other keynote speakers include local “culinary treasure,” chef Janos Wilder who will discuss gourmet insects and protein sources of the future, and “Discovering Multiversal Tourism” with Chadney Everett, the senior creative director of Meow Wolf, an entertainment and arts company that creates large-scale immersive art installations.

“We have speakers who have never spoken at anything in Tucson but go speak at national or international conferences like South by Southwest,” Pocock said. “TENWEST is a great place to come check them out.”

“TENWEST can give you a really good idea of what’s happening in your community,” Baquet added.

“We’re a creative city that’s building toward a more sustainable future.”

TENWEST Impact Festival

WHEN: 8 a.m. to noon Monday, Nov. 1, to Saturday, Nov. 5

WHERE: Multiple locations, see schedule online

COST: $35 general conference pass; $300 all-inclusive pass

INFO: tenwest.com

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