(Thanks Lisa Roden for the images!)We've all been recovering from that exhausting weekend, but I wanted to take a moment and acknowledge how hard the volunteer team worked and how amazing the event was. Even though it was supposed to be a small regional/local event, we sold out and had almost as many attendees we did last year. People came from all over the world to join us and I'm honored. Five things I loved about this year:1.) Diversity was far more present than last year. BLC14 wasn't what it could have been; it was female focused and while there was some variety and inclusion in the workshops, there could have been so much more. It was great to create the space for such an event and this year couldn't have happened with out it... but we wanted more. I loved the panels, lectures, and emcees we had this year. I loved having teens there. I loved the energy that each person brought. There were more shapes, sizes, sexes, shades, genders, and ages than before and this progress was wonderful.
2.) I loved the ticket price. While it was a really no frills event, it was still incredible and the team somehow was able to make it happen with tickets that were $25 and teens were free. They also were able to offer free admission for anyone who's budget didn't allow the fee. I can't tell you how expensive (and exhausting) these events are and I'm amazed and appreciative that the volunteer group managed to make this happen.
3.) It happened. There was a huge learning curve this year and several plans didn't pan out as expected. And while I hear this is normal, it was still difficult. I stepped back to write a book and trusted the team to create the event. THEY DID and THEY DID IT IN FIVE MONTHS. Hot damn.
4.) There was a dance party at the end. It was a really unconventional way to close the conference, but Kristen Nelson led everyone in a series of movements to "Flawless." Everyone was encouraged to participate at their comfort level and it was wonderful to release the energy accumulated throughout the day.
5.) It was imperfect. There is still a long way to go. I hope to see more diversity next year, more inclusion, more opportunities for attendees to connect and the creation of a more supportive environment that allows everyone to process what they've learned. There are so many opportunities for growth next year and I can't wait to see what the team comes up with.
I love the social media team for collecting experiences. Well done!
See you next year?