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Juice Conference Part Three- And The Winner Is.....!


Part Three - 
Continuing the Story: 

My Experience at the 2009 Juice Conference

Part One 

Part Two

Since I did not attend the ballet, I had to ask to find out my status, Once I learned that I had not made it to the semi-finals, I decided to stick around and find out who did.

 I looked around the room and noticed a few people wearing badges that said "Art Creates Jobs' Total naivety, I thought, the power elite of Maine is not interested in the small number of jobs that art creates - the Baldacci administration was using artists in service of the gentrification of Maine's towns and cities following social engineer, Richard Florida's "creativity" template.. The cities and towns must present a culturally stimulating face in order to attract the "creative class"- code for the wealthy. In the plans of the corporate state the artists are just the bait used to catch the big fish.

 Of course at that time my thoughts were composed of different words, not yet being aware that there existed a corporate state, but conscious enough about the use to which artists were being put in service of the real end, attracting a wealthier class of citizen's to Maine- Baldacci's economic solution for the state.

The semifinalists were given about ten minutes to present their proposals. Most seemed to know the state's "targeted sector" requirements well. Many high tech green schemes, many who had discovered how to create energy from ocean water or other similar technological advancement- and why not! No one's asking for verification here! It seemed too preposterous to be true. One particular contestant stuck out in my mind. He had the formula completely down! He started out by telling us that his proposal represented a billion dollar industry.Check! He had discovered how to harness ocean waves to make energy .Double Check ( hitting green and high tech at once)! He had already received numerous grants from other sources . Check!.

The only thing is, I cannot recall if he said anything about an exit strategy for which the standard issue statement is "For an exit strategy, I will sell the business". If he had said that, it makes his entire proposal even more unbelievable than it already was- as I was already wondering, why someone in a billion dollar industry who had received many other grants was wasting their time competing for $30000.00. If he had made a promise to sell the business to anonymous investors of such a meager sum, that takes it up several more notches of ludicrous.

The number of projects matching the template, combined with the absence of any verification process for this competition raises the question of how much it matters to investors that the "new innovative and green" technology ever actually materializes as promised. Is it only the promise that is needed for the angel investors who capitalize the economic development policies of the corporation of Maine? According to a brochure published by the FAME corporation, angel investors are typically in and out of the investment in seven years. The answer to this question would require greater research capabilities than I have time to invest. I do not assume that whatever is presented on the websites of the various state corporations represents the whole truth. One needs only to look at the timeline of the National Endowment for the Arts to see evidence of editing practices by government agencies. The entire story of the 1989 Serrano -Mapplethorpe controversy is nowhere to be found !

Much to my surprise the woman whom I had met coming out of her interview and looking totally dejected was also in the semi-finals. She said that if certain regulations were changed, her family would do quite well in the business she was presenting- which was a business that uses recyclable materials to produce a product of a generic design. She mentioned that at first she started out as a sales person for the product until she realized that she could make more money producing it. Since the design was so basic as to be in the public domain, there was no legal ownership of the design that needed to be considered ( I said that) . Since she made the reference to setting up a secure livelihood for her family, she couldn't have stated an exit strategy which would allow investors to make a profit- and my memory does not recall that she did- and so perhaps none of the contestants in that particular group had included an exit strategy in their presentation.

The winner in my group was a man who wanted to produce an organic Tee Shirt for runners.. He said for an exit strategy , he would sell his company to his competitor. I wondered who that would be? Nyke? - infamous for manufacturing in China, a heavily polluted nation where most big American sports clothing companies manufacture their products.

After a while the presentations became harder to take. The women sitting next to me turned and said "it's all about big money" - I left the room as the emotional feelings from the previous day started to re-emerge. I thought I should at least leave our brochures some where before leaving the event but by the time I got to a window to ask where I could leave them my emotions were getting the better of me and I repeated the statement "its all about big money" . Didn't I want to stay- they were going to have such lovely social networking at the end of the day? No ! 

After all was said and done the prize went to the woman whom I had met as she came out of her interview looking dejected and forlorn.

 In an email, Jamie Okma Lee explained that I did not make it to the semi-finals because I did not have an exit strategy. In an extended conversation she said that it was not about big money. The award had gone to the project creating a generic product out of recycled materials because it was so compelling to the judges. Another instance of total disconnect with her audience- in this case myself- who like the winner of the competition is part of a family business except that we have an unusually large inventory of designs, and they are all original designs, including our glazes, and we have a long established historical reputation, to which the movers and shakers and innovators and geniuses centrally managing Maine's economy seem to be totally occluded in their focus on a forward looking vision- exclusive of any historical roots.

She said this as though it needed no explanation. Surely I understand why a company producing a single generic product is more compelling than our own.

My only guesses on are these:

 #1 because that company preforms the corporate state's narrowly defined concept of "public good" by using a recycled material, the business performs a  "green" function.

 #2 my emotional outburst traveled farther than I realized and the judges of the panel needed to affirm that what is said in the statute chartering the FAME corporation is unquestionable truth -that they work primarily from the motivation of serving the public benefit. Profit is only something that happens purely incidentally..

Any benefits accruing to private individuals or associations, as a result of the activities of the authority, are deemed by the Legislature to be incidental to the public purposes to be achieved by the implementation of this chapter.

The fact that Ms Lee's followup statement was so inconsistent and irreconcilable with her opening statement to the event, in which she expressed her enthusiasm for far more glamorous projects than that of the winner gives weight to the latter speculation- and also by the fact of pure co-incidence that I met the winning contestant as she came out of her presentation and she was not feeling it- that the judges were so compelled by her presentation that they were left speechless.  Anyways , I am glad the winner won.

Back to Part One


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