Tag Archives: mark-horvath

How Does One Man Open Our Eyes and Minds?

This is a guest post written by my assistant, Kat. While all opinions are her own, I wholeheartedly agree with every word she writes. Mark Horvath is an amazing individual and the work he continues to do on behalf of homeless people inspires us all.

One of the things I did to help plan Gnomedex 2009 was to be the main point of contact for our speakers. I got to know each of them a bit prior to ever actually meeting them and had a good time learning about their lives and the awesome things they were going to bring to our stage. I learned of Mark Horvath and his work with homeless people from an email Chris sent to me, asking me to add him to our roster.

I had never heard of the Invisible People movement at that point. Reading and learning from the website, I was drawn in by the work that Mark is doing. After I shot off a quick email to welcome him to the team, Mark called me unexpectedly. It was a “drive day” for him – he was in the midst of his first US tour, talking to homeless people. He wanted to connect in a more real way than email would ever allow.

Connect is the only word to describe what happened that day.

Mark and I have become close friends in the time since that phone call. I cannot think of a single person I have ever – in my entire life – been more proud to call my friend. This man inspires me to not only help homeless people… but to be a better ME. After immersing myself in ways I could help bring a voice to homeless people, I began to look at other ways I could make changes in my life. My self-improvement journey is not complete, nor will it ever be. There are always ways in which we could be a little better, after all. On the days that I feel as though I cannot continue along my chosen path, I look to Mark. He doesn’t give up, no matter how difficult his day may be. He pushes himself beyond what he feels is possible, so that he can accomplish what most of us used to view as impossible… bringing a voice and face to homeless people.

I cannot begin to capture the essence of my friend in a simple blog post. I’m not even going to try. I simply want to ask a favor of each and every one of you. I want you to go and read just one story on the website. If what you read does not move you to action and tears, nothing in this life ever will. Once you have done this, I beg you to find just ten dollars in your budget to support Mark and his cause by purchasing the book released today by Kevin Hendricks.

Open Our Eyes: Seeing the Invisible People of Homelessness is Mark’s story, and the story of the thousands of people across this country he is working to help. Every penny of the proceeds goes to Invisible People to help Mark continue his fabulous work. Kevin was kind enough to send me an advance copy. I have now read it four times in just a few days… and I cry each time. It moves me that deeply and inspires me to push myself even harder to help others.

To my friend Mark – I love ya, dude. If everyone had just one tenth of the compassion, integrity and dedication that you possess the world would be a much better place. You continue to inspire me and to make me laugh just when I feel I cannot find humor anymore in life. Your quiet strength has helped me through a lot of turmoil in the time we have known each other. Your guidance has helped me to make the right choices in my life and your singing voice mails continue to bring a smile to my face on the most difficult of days. Keep on keepin’ on, Mark. You know we are ALL always here to support you and bring a smile to your face when you need it most.

Top Ten Gnomedex Memories

We’re entering the home stretch, preparing to launch Gnomedex 10 here in Seattle. Wow – ten years of Gnomedex. It’s hard to believe we’ve been doing this for so long! Planning a conference of this magnitude is no easy feat and this year has been no exception to that rule. However, I have a fantastic team of volunteers without whom this tenth year would not be happening. They’ve all worked incredibly hard to help pull together what promises to be an excellent weekend – and I guarantee you will regret it if you miss out.

Over the past several weeks, we used our @gnomedex Twitter account to ask previous attendees what their favorite memories have been from past years. We took all of the responses and created a top-ten list for your enjoyment – and to help you remember why it is you love Gnomedex as much as you do. It’s funny… a few people have accused us of not being Geeky enough – not technical enough – not hard-core nerd enough. However, looking at the top ten it’s easy to see that the hard-core Geek stuff is not what people remember most.

Gnomedex is all about YOU. We focus a lot on humanity, community and communication. We aren’t a tech conference in the traditional sense, and that’s okay with me. People have repeatedly told me that they have come away from Gnomedex with a new outlook on life… that the conference has changed their life in some way. Something strikes a chord deep within our attendees each year, and that is priceless to me. I was pleasantly surprised by this list, and enjoyed the trip down memory lane. I hope you will, as well.

Without further ado, here are your favorite Gnomedex memories, in reverse order:

  • Watching Miss Gnomedex Christine Juhnke earn her title at Gnomedex 1 in Des Moines.
  • Microsoft giving the first public look at IE 7 during Gnomedex 5, showing off the built-in RSS capabilities.
  • Television actor Wil Wheaton (Star Trek: The Next Generation) speaking at Gnomedex 4.
  • Raising thousands of dollars in a short time to help send Cambodian women to college with Beth Kanter.
  • Not one single attendee took their eyes off the stage during the Mars Rover presentation given by “driver” Scott Maxwell during Gnomedex 8. Every Geek in the house had a serious case of jealousy going on.
  • Nearly 2/3 of the attendees jumping on stage to dance spontaneously with Matt Harding (of Where the Hell is Matt? fame) during Gnomedex 8.
  • Having our perceptions drastically changed by Mark Horvath’s presentation about the plight of homeless people. I don’t think there was a dry eye in the auditorium when the money we quietly passed the hat to raise was given to James… the homeless but hard-working man who appeared on stage with Mark.
  • Watching our buddy (and long time Gnomedex supporter) Drew Olanoff tell his cancer to take a flying leap off of a short pier. I’m beyond happy to report that Drew beat his cancer, but his fight against it continues – on behalf of the millions of others still battling the disease.
  • Multi-year Gnomedex attendee Derek Miller couldn’t be with us in person back in 2007. Derek’s fight against cancer began that year, and he was unable to travel. SO – we brought Gnomedex to him via a live video feed from his home in Canada. Derek is still fighting the good fight, and we continue to follow his story and wish him well.
  • Gnomedex 6 keynote speaker Senator John Edwards being told by Dave Winer that he needed to make net neutrality his campaign platform in order to successfully run for President.

What was YOUR favorite Gnomedex memory of all time? Will you be joining us this year? Tickets are going fast – I hope you’ve already reserved yours.