Craft Cocktail at the Black Rabbit: Belle Meade Bourbon, Heering Cherry, Orange Bitters and Absinthe.

“More Iced tea, darlin’?” His sincerity was disarming and his drawl belied a wit as fast as a hot knife through butter. We fell into an easy banter. He gave me confidential advice, “Hon’, you want to get the brisket, they do it right here.”  He really cared if I had enough iced tea. When he left the tab I saw a note attached and my heart fluttered. Then it sank: only a flyer for his upcoming gig, a singer-songwriter night at The Bluebird Cafe. Welcome to Nashville. And welcome to my 10th blog about three of my passions: sustainability, events, and fine food and beverages.

Bourbon won’t cure my achy heart, but it’s another thing they do right here. So let’s head to the Black Rabbit for a little sippin’ and drankin’. I recommend the aromatic Hoffa’s Inside Job: made from small batch, high rye Belle Meade Bourbon, Heering Cherry Liquor, orange bitters, and Absinthe. Ahhh. Now that we’re settled in, let me share a few highlights about our event at Nashville’s Music City Center, the beautiful, art-filled, guitar-shaped convention center.

We received top shelf service from the MCC’s Technology Department. DrupalCon, a web developer conference, has a reputation for stressing a building’s IT network. Our Technology Manager, Chris Jolly, understood our complex technical needs and was committed to handling the challenges with grace – whether it involved re-configuring the firewall, tweaking NAT states or emptying PAT tables as fast as we could fill them. Chris was also our go-to for digital media throughout the venue and assisted us with testing and fine-tuning. The equipment and tools for managing the network and the media system were state-of-the-art, and Chris was on top of his game.

Tony Jones helped with print branding, bringing to life a forty foot high guitar cling which was installed in the Grand Atrium window. The result was a beautiful stained glass effect that was the visual centerpiece of the conference. While that might seem easy, there was a great deal of design, planning, scaling, testing and trade skills involved in making it happen. 

The MCC also helped us produce a socially and environmentally responsible event: The LEED certified infrastructure, the sustainability-minded catering department, and the donation programs for left-over food and useful items allowed us to execute our show according to our CSR standards. Listed below are the post-event statistics, courtesy of Renee Barker in the MCC’s Sustainability Department. (Comments are mine).

  • 7,062 kWh was produced by solar power. That’s equivalent to 70,062 MacBook Pro hours, enough to power up thousands of lines of code, a couple modules and a few live commits.
  • 62% of the total water used for our conference came from rainwater collected on the center’s green roof. This is not only energy-efficient, it helps with storm water management: which makes sure “the creek don’t rise” when storm season hits. And if you aren’t worried about the creek rising, then you should read Storms of my Grandchildren, by climatologist Dr. James Hansen. The mega storms we have been experiencing are only the beginning, unless we all work together to neutralize greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Waste Diversion!  We recycled 8,140 pounds of material and composted another 1,161 pounds of pre-consumer food waste. This included the 100+ recyclable signs created by Pollack Printing, who did a phenomenal job creating green signage for the event.
  • We donated 148 pounds of food to help those in need at the Nashville Rescue Mission.
    Wait!  That doesn’t sound like much?? Considering we served almost 10,000 meals, we did a very good job estimating meal counts, using a formula for attrition using carefully tracked data from previous years. Take a bow, Nicolette Oliaro, our registration and catering manager, for staying vigilant!
  • We donated 1,112 pounds of usable items like clothing, furniture, a Pop-A-Shot and a ping-pong table to various non-profits in the Nashville community.
  • The MCC’s catering department keeps food healthy, supports local farmers and keeps food miles low by sourcing locally. The list of specialty farms and producers is long and ever-changing, kudos to Chef Max Knoepfe and his team.

The Green Roof of the Music City Center features a rainwater collection system, 845 solar panels, and a field of sedum that supports a honeybee colony.

After hours we were able to explore the city at night. Our highlights included a truly entertaining night listening to the banter and songs from singer-songwriters at the intimate Listening Room Cafe, it was a real treat to hear the music played by the people who write the songs for the big stars. We took in a concert at the beautiful Ryman Auditorium, home of the Grand Ole Opry and the birthplace of Bluegrass. We took a ride down “Music Row‘ to see the bungalows of record labels, talent agents and recording studios. We enjoyed a nighttime walk thru Bi-Centennial Capital Mall State Park discovering sculptures, a 95 bell Carillon, the 200-foot granite map of Tennessee and the Rivers of Tennessee fountains. We dined at the original Woolworth’s on Fifth which had a role in the civil rights movement. We toured the Corsair Whiskey Distillery, where we enjoyed seeing all the care, handwork, and high quality standards that go into small batch distilling. Our tour guide impressed us equally with her knowledge of whiskey production and the quick wit she used in subduing a day-drinking heckler.  All in all, when in Nashville, I highly recommend getting into the smaller music venues, and older neighborhoods to enjoy the history, charm and hospitality of the city.

Well, my glass is empty and and I’m out of words, so I best be gettin’ on. I might be just in time for the last set at Bourbon Street Blues and Boogie. Until the next time….