Julie Fooshee - Thursday, June 6th, 2019
Another year is in the books for the Science Events Summit and from the perspective of an organizer it felt like our best year ever. In a moment of reflection on the conference, some things that I wanted to point out to everyone surfaced and I hope you take some time to read over this little love note to the participants, vendors, and attendees that made this meeting so incredible.
First, this year we started with a theme instead of adding one at the end. While this may sound small, it was a big step and a change in the overall model of how we run the conference. By taking a step back, looking at the 2018 feedback, and also looking at the field and asking ourselves what the biggest topics of the day were, we had an opportunity to directly address some of these things with practitioners and professionals if we were careful and considerate about the way we went about the work.
Second, because we started with a theme we were able to craft sessions around that and align all the summit goals around that like a mission. This didn’t just end with the people and the topics, we tried hard to make sure we were making good choices in vendors, in partners, and in collaborators. It was important that we felt a measure of community in all the places that we did business with in any capacity in order to reinforce the messages of the conference from the moment guests checked in at the hotel to the moment they left the final meeting plenary on Tuesday.
Some of the highlights of these efforts included working with the library as our conference venue instead of a more traditional conference space. Libraries are a community space, run for the community and are often times partners with festivals and events that we work with. To showcase this amazing space and have the opportunity to put conference attendees in situ made a difference in the conversations we were having. Nametags this year were reusable instead of single use so to be more environmentally conscious. The caterer that we chose works with community members who have barriers to employment to help give them on the job training to launch a new career. Not only that but they work to reduce food waste in the community. All our core venues were selected to be within a 5 block radius so that we could reduce our carbon footprint and rely less on transit to get to and from locations. Our partner hotel? LEED Certified.
We made every attempt to lower barriers to access for those who wanted to attend that had financial difficulty by making travel scholarships available by way of free hotel rooms, reduced registration rates, speaker stipends, and making the conference as inclusive as possible when it came to costs.
There’s so much that goes on behind the scenes to make this event what it is and it was exciting to see it all pay off this year. I saw so many in depth conversations happening, both in the sessions and in between during networking hours, and at lunch, or on walks to various venues. There was something special about how people connect in these moments and the types of exchanges that happen when people are allowed to be reflective about their practice and have the space to do that meaningfully.
To everyone who was a part of this meeting: thank you for being a part of the conversation of live public science events. Thank you for taking the time to come to this meeting and work to enact meaningful change. We hope that whatever you learned there you are able to carry forward wherever it is you work and that as you create change in your own institution you look back on this meeting as a resource. If at any point you find yourself needing support or further connections in the field, feel free to reach out to us here at the SFA and we would be happy to help you in that work.
Keep an eye on the Science Events Summit site over the next couple of months as we transition it from the 2019 meeting highlights to the upcoming 2020 meeting. Interested in being the 2020 host? Contact us!