Festival Future

Organizers for the Winter 2012 ReSkilling Festival (minus Barbara Lucas who is not in the photo.)

Future of the Festival

We are currently at a crossroads with the festival.  Rebecca and Laura, who have been co-chairing the event, need to simultaneously step away from the work after the July 2012 event. Fortunately, there are other organizers interested in continuing the work, but of this group no one feels that they can chair the festival.  This leaves us wondering who will continue the work, and in what form.

At the upcoming festival, our hope is to spread this news, and start an important conversation about the future of the festival.  To this end, you will find at the festival:

  • A hosted “Future of the Festival” conversation at 4-5pm in the commons where we will share some ideas about forms the festival can take, and hopefully leave with an email list of people who would seriously consider getting involved in festival planning. Lemonade and homemade cookies will be served.
  • An interactive 2-D tree where attendees can express their desires about the future directions of the festival.

If you are curious or passionate about the ReSkilling movement in Ann Arbor, we hope that you will participate! Our hope is to make this conversation open and welcoming to any interested community member.

Festival Background

As of summer 2012, we have planned 7 day-long festivals in 3 years. We have been slowly building a local ReSkilling movement with new attendees, new presenters, and even new organizers, joining us every festival. Over the course of time, our work has been covered and promoted by such news organizations as annarbor.com, CTN, WEMU, WCBN ,and Michigan Radio. We have been contacted by people nationally and internationally who have found our festival online. This is all to say: we think it is working.

To the extent possible for passionate people planning this festival alongside work and school commitments, we have made a science out of planning this event. Our process has even been documented here.

What does it take to plan a festival?

(Testimonial from organizer Laura Smith)

I came to this work deeply concerned about the future of energy, and over the last three years have found a way to positively channel my own pent-up energy into this event. For me, it has been a form of activism that is both up-beat and constructive. The other organizers are warm and friendly, and we have established wonderful working relationships. Likewise, the presenters and volunteers who are drawn to this event have been so fun to meet and stay in touch with. But the work can be demanding! I have used every ounce of organizational skills learned in other contexts — from managing team member tasks to email lists, publicity, spreadsheets and blogs. I always try to tell myself that it is a ‘folksy,’ laid back affair so that I don’t let it dominate other demands in life.  But this approach only works up to the last two weeks when every free moment is consumed with festival needs. :)I would not recommend undertaking the work if you are already stretched too thin, and I wouldn’t do it without a few other passionate people! All of that said, for me it has been meaningful work surrounded by inspiring people, and I hope that it will continue to be the same for others who pick up the effort!

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