Last week I ran around (as did the other committee members) polishing off some more 'rough' edges.
My goal is for the attendees to not be aware of what has gone on to make this conference happen, but be able sail through the event smoothly. That is, with the fewest number of 'issues' as I can.
Of course my constant blogging about it kind of negates that goal, but not every person attending reads my blog!
If you have ever organized a single workshop? Multiply that by 22. Workshop of 20? Multiply that by 10. You'll maybe have an idea of what goes into organizing a conference. And this one isn't particularly large. Imagine conferences with 10 times as many attendees as we are having. The task is immense.
On the other hand, the benefits of being able to attend such an event? Priceless.
We live in a very interconnected world, with the internet. I started weaving long before the internet was a 'thing', long before personal computers were a 'thing'. In fact I saw my first weaving programs at an ANWG conference back in the early '80s. Can't remember which one now, but it might have been 1981 or 83. The Seattle Weaver's Guild booth had computer generated drawdowns and the fabric woven from those drawdowns on display. I remember an older weaver (remember I was in my early 30s) sniffing as she exited the booth that that wasn't really weaving! Me? I was intrigued and saw the possibilities. I bought my first computer in 1988 by going into the computer store with the system requirements for Fiberworks, telling the guy to sell me something that met those requirements.
They did. They also treated me with curiosity, and ultimately respect, I think. (No doubt delight as well as the sale was, um, significant.) I don't recall being mansplained or denigrated. I think having the system requirements all laid out and the fact I was buying the whole shebang to create textiles stirred their interest. So thank you, Bob Keates, for your very clear documentation about what was needed to run your program, and the time and effort you take keeping your software up-to-date and responding to requests from weavers as quickly as you can. Fiberworks was the first software program that was graphics oriented - when it opened it looked like graph paper. I took to it immediately. There are others now, but I have stuck with Fiberworks, partly because I can make it do what I want. There is so much more to learn, though, and maybe next year I'll have it. :) And my interest was piqued by that exposure to computers at the SWG booth at an ANWG conference.
So, conferences. You can meet people in real life. Thank them if they have inspired you. You can see - and in some cases actually touch - the textiles. While photos are nice, they never, ever, do the fabric justice.
You can attend workshops and learn more about a technique. Seminars can be 'tasters' for something to find out if you want to pursue that aspect of textiles further, or just become more informed generally.
Impromptu meetings over meals can bring unexpected delights. Study groups can meet and share their specialized interests.
Immersing yourself for a day or four in something you love can be a welcome break from whatever is going on in 'real' life.
I have had so many delightful exchanges at conferences. People have been kind and generous. I think it might have been Convergence in '78, walking down a hallway when I spotted a group of people passing around samples and chatting. I came to a dead stop, inching my way closer and closer.
They didn't shoo me away, in fact inched over to allow me to join their circle. I think two of them were Kim Malloy and Eleanor Best, the then editor of the Complex Weavers newsletter. The fact they accepted me without question was pretty amazing to me. The fact that they included me as they passed the samples around? Priceless. And I got an answer to a question I had been puzzling over.
Some of the people I met at conferences became friends. They have enriched my life as a weaver, but also as a person. Being able to connect face-to-face every once in a while is a real perq of attending conferences for me.
This isn't my first time at organizing a conference. I have in fact done it several times. I've participated in conferences as attendee, instructor and vendor. This is the first time I've worked so much on the workshop/seminar aspect, making sure instructors have what they need. I hope we've covered everything. Once people get here, see their rooms, get their requested equipment, we can further fine tune things.
I have, as much as possible, kept the teachers in the same room throughout. We had to make some adjustments once registration closed, but only a few teachers have to move around. When I typed up the personal class lists for each attendee, I noticed that some of them are in the same room for the entire event, too!
The staff at the venues have been great, The meetings this week were to sieve any last nits out of the event. I'm sure there will be a few more - but we will do our best to deal with them.
The first instructor is en route, should be arriving this evening. She is coming early to help with the conference set up. The next arrives on Monday, and they can get into their workshop rooms after 6 pm Tuesday.
After 5 years in the making, it's here!!! (Well, almost...)