April 23, 2007

Interest group at 2007 Gathering?

So ---

Robin M and I are toying with the idea of proposing an interest group, but not as a repeat or sequel to the one that was offered last year with Martin Kelley on Convergent Friends....

...and I have just realized that there are only two more weeks before proposals for interest groups at this summer's Gathering are due! The deadline is May 7th... Yipes!

Unlike the list of workshops that is made available before Gathering's registration opens, no one will know what the interest groups will be until we arrive on campus for the start of Gathering... which leads me to write this brief post and ask:

Who among the blogging community and among young adult Friends might be submitting a proposal for an interest group this year?
I want to know ahead of time because last year, it turned out that a number of us were offering interest groups and we couldn't attend each other's!

A few things to consider:

1. If you are submitting or have submitted a proposal for an interest group for the 2007 Gathering, could you add a comment to this post to let us know? Hopefully that way, we will find a way to support one another and we could generate a sort of mini-list here as well, to help prime the pump.

2. A large majority of proposed interest groups apparently are accepted, since interest groups are not a major component of the week, in the way that workshops are. So if you've got an idea for an interest group brewing, don't be shy to say so!

3. If you would like to submit a proposal and would like to have some support around either testing it or fleshing it out or even presenting it (either with a co-facilitator or with a prayer-support person to hold you in the Light), be sure to ask for that sort of support--online or at your own meeting. If it would help you to make that request here, please go right ahead and do just that.

So ---

Maybe some of you are wondering if Robin and I going to submit a proposal...? And if so, what would it be an interest group on...?

Good questions. Questions we ourselves are wondering right now. (*See the UPDATE at the bottom of this post.)

I would say that we're not ready to say anything publicly about what we are considering, given how fresh this idea is that has just emerged.

Minutes before I crafted this post, Robin and I were on the phone talking about this, that's how fresh it is! Robin had to take her son to school and I didn't think to ask permission to name the topic before she left. I don't even know that Robin and I have conferred with our respective partners about any of this, it happened so fast. But I was able to get Robin's okay to create this post to get the word out and to ask if others are hoping to offer interest groups.

I think it's safe to say that we'd be looking at an element of traditional or "classic" Quakerism. As if that were a surprise! (*See UPDATE)

Check back here before May 7, 2007 for updates and --hopefully--additional information about possible interest groups that are growing out of the Quaker blogosphere!


Robin and I have conferred just a teeny bit more. We both find ourselves living into exciting questions of faithfulness and how, to paraphrase an email I received from Robin, "faithfulness in the small things is what makes faithfulness in the big things possible." So the interest group would perhaps revolve around the concept of "faithfulness in the small things."

Once Robin and I have fleshed out something more significant, if the prompt to propose such a thing holds fast, another post will be shared with the relevant description, etc.

  • the full description that was included in our proposal for the interest group

  • Robin M's own post on faithful obedience and early preparations for the Gathering

    Martin Kelley said...

    Hi Liz,
    Well I think you and Robin both know my theory of workshop/interest group framing and naming, which is to focus on the people you'd like to see come and on the spirit you'd like them to arrive with. Despite all the self-identification to the contrary, much of liberal Quakerism is very programmed. The most radical think you can do at FGC is to hijack part of that programming to set the stage for free gospel ministry. The most wonderful experiences happen when the agenda lifts and the group enters that state of gathered worship--that's the prize, imho. Plan and think all you want but then let it go sometime before the actual event.

    I suspect 20-somethings will be largely absent again (a big shame but I did more than my part trying to break down those ghetto walls, sigh...). What we did last year was pretty cool: Liz, Robin and I got in touch with key Friends who had gone to the youth-focused interest group and spread the message that we were all to meet afterwards for a impromptu hour of more talk. I think the only way to break down the ghettos is to take advantage of unprogrammed time like that. Good luck, God bless, and let us know how it shapes up. Y'all have my number if you want to toss some ideas by me!
    Martin @ Quaker Ranter

    Liz Opp said...

    Hey, Martin--

    I agree with everything you've shared here, and I too remember the sense of the Spirit covering us at the 2006 interest group.

    Even as Robin and I test the idea/prompt for an interest group for 2007, I feel a sense of hope that we will simply help start the conversation and perhaps the Opportunity to fall into worship will again visit us.

    And I make it a personal practice when I put together a workshop or presentation to "give it over"--to "let it go sometime before the actual event."

    Another thing I will have to do is to let go of what happened last year--it's unlikely to be repeated! But I do hope that the intergenerational aspect of the online conversation can again "make the jump" into the face-to-face world of the Gathering again, to some extent, even if a certain key player--you!--won't be in attendance.

    Thanks for the support, now and in the future.