I have been thinking a LOT about building community. That's such a cliched term, right? "Building community". Let's "build community". I'm a "community builder".
Seriously, though, one of the reasons that I started this blog was to find, get ready for another cliche, my "tribe". People that "got" what I was interested in - creative, self starters who are doing things. Making it happen rather than making excuses. People who would inspire me to up my game in all sorts of ways.
My new series - "Offroad Blogging". It's about the ultimate in making things happen. And building community. The people that you are going to get to know have ALL taken it offline. They've leapt out of their comfort zone to create events where they live and elsewhere to bring creatives together. Some are big events, some are small. Some are local and some are all over the place. But they all made it happen.
Describe your event
GIRL CRUSH is a series of one-day creative workshops held at the studios of amazing women artists. And the reason? To walk away from our computers, and actually meet in person for a glorious, creative, pastry-filled day. To figure out a way to break through artist blocks. To get inspired, and recharged. To celebrate being women artists… and obviously, to have a reason to eat lots of pretty little cakes & tarts in the middle of the day! So far there have been five events: San Francisco, Seattle, Portland, Minneapolis, and Philadelphia. Austin is sold out for April, and there are plans of going to Boston in the fall of 2013.
Why do you think it's important to go offline and into real life?
Conversation can only go so far in the comments field - especially when the topic is something as emotional as creative blocks, and self-doubt. You really need to see the faces, and hear the voices to feel nurtured. Caffeine and sugar tastes way better in person too!
What was your biggest worry before starting your event?
That no one would get anything out of it. I really wanted GIRL CRUSH to help people/change lives. I was terrified that I'd have 12 women staring back at me thinking "Are you kidding?!". The other thing I was worried about was timing - would we have enough time to do everything I had planned, or would we burn through it and be staring at each other with nothing to do by 10am. Luckily that is never a problem... usually we go from 9am - 7pm!
What are you proud of having thought of ahead of time?
Well, I didn't really realize this until half way through the planning of my first event (in San Francisco), but now I do it ahead of time EVERY TIME... asking your attendees if they have any dietary restrictions! There are always a few vegans, vegetarians, and gluten-free people in the bunch! When you're planning a tea party, you want to make sure that everyone can enjoy their lunch!
What is the most challenging part about putting on these events?
Organizing from afar. Every event takes place in a different city. A different city that I don't live in, nor have ever been to! It's tricky finding sponsors and vendors when you don't have those local connections.
From idea to execution, how long did it take?
Hm. Let me think about that. I came up with the idea in the summer of 2011. Then I did the branding, and planning - and at Alt Summit, in January of 2012, I announced it. The first event was in San Francisco two months later, in March. I could have done it a lot faster, but I wanted to really think it through, and I really wanted to make the announcement during my "Successful Collaborations" panel at Alt. It seemed appropriate since I was about to be collaborating with a lot of people to make these events happen! : )
Why should people/bloggers come to your event?
I hope that what they'll get out of it is creative clarity. Most people that attend GIRL CRUSH are feeling creatively stuck. The exercises we do, the conversations we have (and maybe even the pastries we eat!) seem to shake lose some of those insecurities. Being surrounded by a group of like-minded women is incredibly powerful - they truly support each other during the event, and after as well!
How do you know it's been a success?
Someone cries, or quits their job. No, just kidding! Kinda. I love the breakthroughs people have during our day together - you can almost watch it happening with some people. I think I can tell it's been a success when the event is over and people come out of it inspired, ready to make stuff, and with a few new friends.