Creating Change (CC) is an annual organizing and skill-building conference that attracts hundreds of gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, queer and allied activist from across the country. I’ve been lucky enough to go to the conference twice! Last year, actress and trans rights activist Laverne Cox gave a keynote speech that spoke to my soul (watch it here)! Tabling with the Point Foundation and spending time with fellow scholars and staff was a total delight and I walked away feeling more motivated and prepared to continue my work.
I had my fist CC experience in 2013, and all I remember people saying when I told them where I was going was, “Oh my goodness, everyone has to come to Creating Change at least once.” However, now that I’ve experienced my second CC and have a better idea of how the conference works, my advice to other people would be, “Oh my goodness, you’re going to love Creating Change – but if it’s possible, try and go at least twice.” Here are my reasons why:
Attend a Day Long Institute, and If Possible Twice (It’s Different the Second Time Around):
The “Racial Justice Institute (RJI)” is a daylong workshop that aims to give participants the opportunity to explore the intersections of race, sexualities, power, and privilege. Throughout the day, participants share their experiences around these issues as well as learn how to integrate racial justice tools into their everyday lives. As a part of the RJI facilitation team, we work hard to help participants really tap into themselves and their experiences. Further, this will better prepare participants to use what they learn at the institute to make positive changes in their everyday life.
However, it’s not uncommon for participants to feel overwhelmed by the information and revelations that might happen. Therefore, participants that attended RJI again seemed to benefit from having time to really work through and apply what they learned the year before. This also allowed them to get additional support and/or input on how to navigate things that came up during that time they couldn’t figure out on their own.
Over the past three years, RJI has been the only day-long institute, but CC has added about a dozen more. So if you have a chance to attend the same day-long institutes twice, I highly recommend it.
Plan Ahead and Create a Strategy to Attend Workshops:
I think it’s safe to say that one of the most difficult and exciting parts of CC to navigate are the sessions. Specifically because some of the country’s most innovative activists coming into one space to present workshops that cover a wide range of topics. My first year, I had such a hard time trying to choose where to go, I thought going to parts of workshops would let me fit it all in. It can seem tempting to leave half way through one workshop to attend another to fit it all in. However, I ended up getting less out of the sessions because I missed important information that the speakers discussed before I arrived or after I had left the session – therefore, i made it a point to review the conference schedule ahead of time. Luckily, there were a few workshops about the same topic that occurred at different times. I prioritized the workshops that I was most interested in and that I knew weren’t going to be presented in another variation for the rest of the conference.
Avoid the “I Wish I Would Have Met You Earlier” Syndrome:
There are many people at CC… I mean a lot of awesome people. Between the workshops, speaker sessions, hospitality suites, and caucuses – there are a lot of great spaces for people to really engage and mingle. However, because there were so many people to connect with, I was sometimes completely drained from all of the mingling or felt like there wasn’t enough time in these spaces to connect with everyone I wanted to. So a few folks slipped through the cracks. My second year helped me realize that events such as the “Opening Cruise,” “Funder Meet and Greet,” and the “Agents of Change Ball” gave me an excuse to reconnect with people later in the day. Furthermore, the hospitality suite was also a great way to minimize the fear of missing out on an opportunity to connect with great individuals while taking a break from the larger group to continue previous conversations!
So remember, everyone should experience Creating Change. However, if you can – try it twice!
Creating Change 2015 will run from February 4th to the 8th at the Sheraton Downton, Denver, CO. More information at http://www.creatingchange.org/
|This post was written by Point Alum Monica Motley|
|Monica Motley is a dual degree student at Virginia Tech seeking a Doctor of Philosophy Degree in the Department of Biomedical and Veterinary Sciences and a Masters of Public Health Degree in the Department of Population Health Sciences. She also holds a B.S from Virginia Commonwealth University and M.S.Ed from Virginia Tech.Learn more about Monica here.|