I just got home from my first Creating Change Conference in Denver and have been slowly processing the entire experience. I do promise to write an in-depth look back on the policy, tools, and overall look at the conference, but what is really sinking in to me today as I unpack is how used to the atmosphere of the conference I had gotten in just week.
I miss the little bubble of safety, openness, engagement, and camaraderie that being at Creating Change had created. I missed our short-lived, weeklong Utopia.
So this post isn't about the sessions or speeches. It's about the people.
As I navigated my way through the busy days of the conference, I began to notice something odd- people were talking to one another. Not just networking, but getting to know each other, tell their stories, and create bonds.
For someone who lived in New York and now resides in South Florida, let's just say that isn't an everyday experience.
And the groups had something else that made me happy (and yes, a bit hopeful)- diversity. People just viewed each other as friends. Many seemed to move beyond the separations that too often happen in our community, whether it was race, religion, gender, identity, age, or any of the barriers we impose in our community.
We were just a bunch of like-minded people coming together to try and make a difference. And have a little bit of fun in the process.
Now I know this was just the unique atmosphere of Creating Change, not some Pollyanna start of a new global community. I'm not that naive. Yet I can't help but think that maybe the leaders and activists coming home from the conference might have felt a little bit of what I do and perhaps spread it to their hometown communities.
And while there were many great sessions, tools, and ideas at the conference that I hope people went home with, I hope the idea of just being open to others in our community is the one they took to heart. The division, racism, homophobia, and transphobia within our own community are too often our undoing when it comes to making real change and progress.
Sometimes it takes getting a quick glimpse of how things can and should be to make you fight for it even more.