I was happy to see lighting retailers and manufacturers among the attendees at the recent Accessories Resource Team  (ART) Conference in New Orleans. For businesses that incorporate other home décor into the mix, or even if they just have a significant stake in portables, ART is a great complement to the technical bases expertly covered by the American Lighting Assn.  (ALA) for our industry.
This year’s Conference included a particularly poignant segment. The 90+ participants spent an afternoon furnishing four homes and doing landscaping on behalf of the Jericho Road Episcopal Housing Initiative , using products donated by vendors (lighting came from Barbara Cosgrove , Capital Lighting , Cyan Design , Emissary , Feiss , Gallery Designs , Troy-CSL , Visual Comfort  via Taylors on Ten , and San Antonio, TX, showroom Light by Design ).
While this project held special meaning because of its beneficiaries, all of ART’s activities seem to have an incredible ability to break down barriers and foster frank discussion among industry peers and partners. Whether we’re sweating side by side in the Louisiana sun to create exceptional environments for low-income families or cheering on teammates in “Minute to Win It” -style games, competition just seems silly … and secondary to the greater good of the industry.
I’m pleased that we’ll be able to bring you a taste of ART’s openness as we partner with the organization again on our fourth Showroom IdeaShare. This lighting retailer roundtable will be held in the ART office in WTC 166 on Friday, June 22, at 3p.m. during the summer Dallas Market . You’ll have the ability to ask other stores about your most burning questions (anonymously, if need be). Participants will set the agenda and supply the issues for discussion, keeping the conversation relevant for the entire hour or two it lasts.
You don’t have to be an ART member  to participate, but you do have to sign up in advance since space is limited. Just e-mail me  or ART Executive Director Sharon Davis  to reserve your seat. I tell you — the honesty will be as refreshing as a cold drink after that afternoon on the Jericho Road job site.