TEA SATE 2019 One for the Books

Ian Klein, Vizir Productions; Shannon Martin, Color Reflections; Nathan Jones, WhiteWater at the close of TEA SATE Seattle 2019.

Ian Klein, Vizir Productions; Shannon Martin, Color Reflections; Nathan Jones, WhiteWater at the close of TEA SATE Seattle 2019.

TEA SATE Seattle 2019 is now behind us but we’ve only begin to reflect on the dialogue and narratives that have come out of it. While I as one of its three co-chairs along with WhiteWater’s Nathan Jones and Shannon Martin of Color Reflections may be biased, I feel it was an extraordinary one. With more women on stage and more voices represented period than any previous SATE, it was an enormous success insofar as being both a summit of ideas and an opportunity for diverse storytellers to share what’s important to them.

SATE is an equation made up of equal parts, Storytelling, Architecture, and Technology, which together inform Experience. During TEA SATE Seattle 2019, I had the privilege of talking a little about the all important element of storytelling through our thematic lens, “Embracing Diversity: Experiences that Bring People Together.” Here is that spotlight as shared on Day 2 of the conference:


Storytelling. We like it. We all know it’s important. And for the most part, it comes pretty natural to us.

In this room, we’re all storytellers. Even if not by title, we all play a part in telling stories. So, there’s no shortage of us talking about storytelling. New ride? Cool story. New building? Let me tell you about the story behind it. New technology? Here’s the story about how we got here.

But what could I tell you that hasn’t been said about storytelling that we all haven’t heard a hundred times or more? I could tell you that we’ve been doing it around the campfire since the dawn of humanity. That storytelling is what makes us human. That without it, society as we know it might simply cease to be. But I’m not going to because, well, I’m not actually one of the people giving a presentation today.

Nathan, Shannon, and I put a lot of thought into what story we wanted to tell with this conference and who were the storytellers that were going to share in that narrative tapestry. We felt like what it all came down to was the human connections that we were going to help create between all of us that made up that complete story.

We are storytellers yes, but storytelling is us. Just by being in this room, on stage or in those seats, you are a unique part of the story and the story is you. And that story is one that wouldn’t be the same without you. Each of you is a beautiful thread in that tapestry.

And if you think about that tapestry, you see each one of those threads is a different hue, each one catches the light a little differently, each one plays a part in holding everything together. Now think about what happens when one of those threads is removed. And another. And another. Pretty quickly, this grand story is a little less vibrant, a little less robust until it looks like nothing at all.

When we stop including members of us who are different than us in our stories, our stories become at best sad, and at worse tragedies. When we take proactive steps to include diverse perspectives, our stories become stronger, more vibrant, and more powerful than we could possibly imagine.

Thank you to all those who shared their stories from the stage during TEA SATE Seattle 2019 as well as a heartfelt thanks to those who attended and shared in these important conversations.

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Helping ensure those conversations are not left behind in the Pacific Northwest is Cynthia Sharpe who not only gave the SATE audience actionable suggestions to integrate diversity, equity, and inclusion into business practices, but curated a list of resources now available to all here.

We look forward to seeing everyone at next year’s SATE North America, taking place October 1-3 at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas!

TEA SATE 2019 Begins

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It’s been just a few weeks since my fellow co-chairs and I shared a complete look at the sessions and speakers for the Themed Entertainment Association’s SATE Seattle 2019. Our most recent announcements included Keynote Speaker, Starbucks Senior Recruiter Neiha Arora as well as entertainment for the program, singer Alexandria Henderson, said to be the first African American woman to play Legally Blonde’s Elle Woods—on a Seattle stage in fact. This week, the stories we’ve been crafting and nurturing for this conference meet their audience.

Months ago, President of WhiteWater’s Park Attractions Division, Nathan Jones and Director of Business Development at Color Reflections Las Vegas, Shannon Martin, and I had our first conversation about what this SATE could be. By its very nature, SATE (Storytelling + Architecture + Technology = Experience) comprises so many creative ideas and fields that the possibilities are truly endless. But we had to choose a path and that path was one that each of us had tread in our personal and professional lives: recognizing differences in one another and making those differences work in symphony for the greater good. As co-chairs, we’ve walked that path together and now invite others to join us.

The need to embrace diversity—as our theme “Embracing Diversity: Experiences that Bring People Together” urges—could not be more pressing. The World Economic Forum estimates that gender equality in the U.S. will not be achieved for another 208 years.* 26 U.S. states do not expressly protect against discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity.** 70 United Nations member states still criminalize same-sex relations between consenting adults.† There are 2 million immigrants and refugees in the U.S. with college degrees from their home countries but remain unemployed or working far below their skill level.‡

These are sobering statistics, to be sure, but to dwell on them without action is unacceptable. It’s clear we need to do better. And we can. SATE brings together creators from all over the world, from all different walks of life, and from trades of every kind. Together, we create entire worlds; it follows that we can create a better one.

To embrace diversity is to embrace possibility. We hope TEA SATE Seattle 2019 clearly demonstrates this. We have new voices. We’ve changed up the program. We have the most women on stage of any previous SATE conference. And we’re ready to learn from all our speakers and everyone in the audience.

We look forward to our paths coming together in Seattle and beyond.

TEA SATE Seattle 2019 takes place Seattle, September 26-27, 2019 at Cornish Playhouse at Seattle Center. Follow the conversation on Twitter at @TEA_Connect and #TEAsate.

* World Economic Forum
** Movement Advancement Project
International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans, and Intersex Association
Upwardly Global