Fast Company June Calendar

Events and conferences you don’t want to miss this month.

Fast Company June Calendar
Illustration by Ethan Park Illustration by Ethan Park



Week 1

Wed, June 02

Designing Change, Changing Design

Ever wonder who designs store layouts? Museum exhibit spaces? Subway info posts? “People say, ‘You do that for a job? I didn’t even know that was a job,’ ” says Cybelle Jones, chair of the Society for Environmental Graphic Design. “It’s the silent branch of design.” In D.C., 500 of these “silent designers” will discuss what makes a space navigable, informative, or just plain fun. (McDonald’s McVillage, a trippy farm playground, won merit last year.) Next time you find an airport gate quickly, or note a store’s intuitive scheme, give credit to the unsung designer. — LILLIAN CUNNINGHAM

Fri, June 04

National Doughnut Day


America runs on Dunkin’ … and Krispy Kreme and the corner bakery. We eat almost 10 billion doughnuts a year — nearly 35 per person. “Doughnuts are resolutely democratic,” says John T. Edge, author of Donuts: An American Passion. “It’s the food on the corner, of cops and construction workers, of the generous person in the office who shows up with two-dozen glazed.” And during the Depression, it was the food of the Salvation Army, which sold sugary fried dough to raise dough for the needy. Many bakers still mark the day by offering freebies. We suggest old-fashioned. — AUSTIN CARR

Sun, June 06

International Bridge Conference

Like a bunch of sex-crazed celebrities, bridge builders are talking rehab — the kind that repairs a crumbling infrastructure. Stingy banks and a teetering economy have slowed new projects in the U.S., but there are plenty of bridges desperate for a fix. Some 26% of the country’s 600,905 bridges are structurally deficient, the American Society of Civil Engineers reports, and most others are approaching their prime. The engineers and policy players at this Pittsburgh conference will strategize how to reduce that number to 15% in the next three years. In the meantime, cross your fingers while crossing. — DAMIAN JOSEPH


Sun, June 06

How Design Conference

Forget bookworms — graphic designers are the real victims of e-publishing. According to conference host Bryn Mooth, new gadgets like the Kindle and iPad pose a big question to these ink-and-paper pioneers: “How does this emerging platform of reading and interacting in a digital space change what it means to be a book designer?” To help answer that, the Denver conference — the largest graphic-design gathering in the U.S. — is going interactive itself: e-book-designing workshops, digital portfolio critiques, and a DIY crafts lounge. “It’s like being 8 years old with a coloring book all over again,” Mooth says. Better make that an iColoringBook. — LC

Week 2

Tue, June 08

Broke U.S.A.


While most of the focus on financial innovation gone awry has been on Wall Street wheeler-dealers, the multibillion-dollar boom in “alternative financing” for the working poor is more fascinating. Gary Rivlin rivets readers with the characters who cooked up what he calls “Poverty Inc.” — and the activists who’ve fought them. “There seemed to be no shortage of ways entrepreneurs had devised for getting rich working the easy-credit landscape,” he writes, but Rivlin pays close attention to the $8 billion payday lending business. Arguments boil down to useful service versus usury, but in the end, as one pro-regulation Republican said, “you can’t hear the stories without having it tug at your heart.” Free enterprise is no match for a lady who borrowed $500 and ended up paying $10,000 in fees and losing her house. — DAVID LIDSKY

Wed, June 09

Aquaculture 2010

If fish had origin stickers, there’s a good chance dinner would read “made in China.” “Almost 50% of the fish we eat now is farmed,” says Simon Wilkinson of the Network of Aquaculture Centers in Asia-Pacific — and China produces about two-thirds of these hydro-critters. Advances in genetic modification and deep-sea ranching have made aquaculture one of the fastest-growing agricultural sectors in China, but a number of questions have also surfaced. Sustainability and food safety are big topics at this Bangkok conference. “It’s not a very high-profile industry,” says Wilkinson, “and a lot of the publicity it does get is bad publicity from environmental groups.” Not that he’s fishing for compliments. — LC


Wed, June 09

NAWBO Women’s Business Conference

Less than 25 years ago, women in the U.S. were denied business loans unless a male relative cosigned. Crazy, right? Thanks to the National Association of Women Business Owners, the Women’s Business Ownership Act passed in 1988, eliminating discriminatory lending practices. “It was really the big bang for women’s entrepreneurship,” says Julie Weeks, chair of the D.C. conference. Today, women own 40% of U.S. businesses, generating $2 trillion in annual sales. The group’s focus is now on growth, and helping more owners over the million-dollar-revenue mark. — STEPHANIE SCHOMER


Thu, June 10

Country Music Association Festival

Video killed the radio star, but cowboys might just save radio. Even as CD sales and legal music downloads slid last year, radio use climbed to 93% among country fans (from 79% the year before). Most listeners tune in for an impressive 9.9 hours a week, and crossover artists such as Carrie Underwood, Taylor Swift, and Darius Rucker are luring a growing number of African-American and tween listeners to the airwaves. That’s plenty to celebrate at this year’s Country Music Association Festival, when 56,000 fans — new and old — will flood Nashville for four melodious days. — EMILIA BENTON

Fri, June 11

2010 FIFA World Cup


Week 3

Mon, June 14

World Blood Donor Day

Fewer than 10 million people donate blood each year, meaning every drop counts. But the method used to thaw frozen blood bags is surprisingly unscientific: Docs take a stab at how much red stuff they might need that day, thaw it slowly in warm water, then chuck the unused blood. Researchers at Microwave Science JV think there’s a better way — zapping blood bags like TV dinners. “We bring it to the right temperature so rapidly, doctors wouldn’t have to do any of that guessing,” says founder Steven Schaffel, who has modified the kitchen tech for hospital use and thawed blood in just two minutes. Ding! Blood’s done! — ZACHARY WILSON

Tue, June 15

Holy Water


“Nothing in the corporate world should shock anyone anymore. Whatever you think will happen won’t, and whatever you think doesn’t have a chance will sneak up and kick you in the ass.” That’s Henry Tuhoe’s philosophy, and he’s our knowing protagonist through this dark screwball business comedy by James P. Othmer. The action starts when a conglomerate transfers Tuhoe from marketing deodorant to setting up a call center for a bottled-water brand in a Himalayan country that has little potable H2O. As Tuhoe evolves from goofball to grown-up, Othmer, a former ad creative, keeps the action humming with satirical riffs on corporate trainers, figurehead founders, and how business really gets done in a developing nation. The book’s gooey center inside its hard-candy shell is about finding meaning in work and life, and after all the high jinks in this beach read for BlackBerry addicts, Othmer has earned it. — DL

Fri, June 18

National Splurge Day


Fri, June 18

Toy Story 3

We all have to grow up sometime, and that’s exactly what’s happened to Andy — the “real boy” owner of Woody and Buzz Lightyear — who, 15 years after the franchise’s first installment, is heading to college. The two earlier films earned $847 million at theaters worldwide (including a smart double-feature re-release in late 2009 to catch up the few younger kiddies), making a third film — offered in 3-D — a business no-brainer. To (box-office) infinity and beyond, indeed. — ZW

Week 4

Mon, June 21

Green Chemistry Conference


It’s no secret President Obama is big on green chemistry: He nominated the “father of green chemistry,” Paul Anastas, to head the EPA’s R&D unit, and his administration is pushing for a chemical-security program for high-risk plants. Now Obama is going after the secrets of others, criticizing a policy that allows manufacturers to keep their chemicals “confidential.” Those trade secrets, environmental groups argue, also veil potentially harmful chemicals, and the White House is calling for more transparency. That political spotlight lured this conference to the nation’s capital this year; for the first time, a congressman (Democrat John Tierney of Massachusetts) will be attending. — ANNE C. LEE

Mon, June 21

Semantic Tech Conference

There’s a wealth of data on the Internet — 100 billion — plus gigabytes, actually. “But if you can’t find something on the first page of your Google results, it may as well not exist,” says Dave McComb, who chairs this San Francisco event. Thankfully, the Web is getting smarter. Sites as diverse as and have started coding their data — everything from flight times to photos to government findings — in a standard way, so search engines can contextualize the information they crawl (instead of just matching keywords). Now it’s up to conference presenters Google, Yahoo, and Microsoft, which have already embraced basic semantic tech, to make sure the most relevant search results rise to the top. — DAN MACSAI


Thu, June 24

Save Our Shows

Fri, June 25

G8 and G20 Summits

It can be lonely in the Great White North. Perhaps that’s why this year, Canada is inviting the whole world over. The Vancouver Winter Games were a warm-up: This month, it welcomes the G8 and G20 summits — considered the Olympics of protesting. But hosting comes at a steep price. Canada will dole out $179 million for some 11,000 police to work security at the summits, twice as many as at the Winter Games. And, we’re guessing, fewer spangly costumes. — DJ


Sun, June 27

International Bowl Expo

The difference between a hockey mom and a pit bull? Apparently, bowling. At this Las Vegas event, which attracts 7,000 alley owners, none other than ex-VP nominee Sarah Palin will give the keynote. “I’m sure she’s a fan of bowling, as are many Americans,” says organizer Steve Johnson. In fact, nearly 70 million people rented shoes and risked a gutter ball in the U.S. last year, up 4.6% from 2008. But will Palin partake, postspeech? “I doubt it,” says Johnson, “but we’ll definitely have a lane for her.” — DM

Week 5

Mon, June 28

National Conference on Volunteering and Service

America is in the midst of a compassion boom. Nearly 30% of people now volunteer, totaling $162 billion worth of hours annually. One group growing briskly? Unemployed men. “It’s a way to build new skill sets and network with potential future employers,” says event spokesperson Ashley Etienne. Service leaders will gather in New York to plan how to keep folks hooked even after they’ve landed a paying gig. — SS

Mon, June 28

World Cities Summit 2010

There is an urgency to progressive urban planning, now that half the world lives in cities. So who better than Singapore to serve as a thought leader? The resource-scarce city-state has, in 40 years, become a modern metropolis supporting 4 million people. International Water Week and the World Urban Transport Leaders Summit are held here too, so visiting city planners and policy makers can triple-dip. As Singapore knows, savvy city building means city branding. — JENNIFER VILAGA