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Summit of Awesome was like this...
So . . . Summit of Awesome.
First, Kelly, Sara, Christine and Kim of Hello Craft did an absolutely wonderful job organizing it. Portland owes them a big debt of gratitude for choosing our city this year. (More in the whole gratitude thing in a moment.)
Actually, quite a few people have done posts detailing the specific events of the Summit. (See Susan's series on CRAFT, Hello Craft's recap post series, and the Summit of Awesome Flickr Pool for a sampling.)
I've decided to do something a little different, and share what it felt like to be part of this conference. (And, why I think it's amazing that the craft community is beginning to organize educational conferences like this.)
(Quick note: all the image in this post are by Hello Craft. My pictures sucked.)
In the online craft community, we're abundant in many things - connection, conversation, inspiration. Our only real scarcity is face-time. Many of my favorite people in the world live thousands of miles away, and I hang out with them only in the form of words on screens.
Heck, I don't even get to see my local crafty friends that much - we're all in our separate studios, working long hours in order to make our living. It's hard to make time to get together. And even in a city with insanely abundant resources like Portland, so many events seem to be centered more around selling crafts than making them - or discussing them, or learning from each other, or hanging out.
So first and foremost, the Summit was like a technicolor explosion of real, live contact.
Anytime you have an opportunity to spend three days in a big, jubilant crowd of like-minded souls, take it. I got to deepen my friendships with so many people, and meet so many interesting new ones. All of which has added new life to my daily online interactions, and sprouted all kinds of interesting collaborative projects.
I also loved being in a learning environment with other creative people, and I loved that we could learn both business stuff and crafty stuff. The two brain-modes have such a nice synergy - if I got a little tired out learning about pricing, then I could head over to the jewelry-making table and get refreshed. And no matter where I went, there were nice people and great conversation.
Not only that, there's something very powerful about the immersion of a three-day event. Honestly, much of the information we shared could be had online somewhere or other, if you're willing to dig around for it. But when you're in a real room, among friends, with a real teacher who's been through the same struggles you're going through, you learn much more effectively.
And then, there's something powerful in seeing all these fellow crafty entrepreneurs around you and realizing that everyone has the same ups and downs. Everyone is experimenting and growing and trying to make their thing happen, despite weird economy, despite personal fears. And for every aspect of my business I'm clueless about, there's someone else who knows a ton about it. We have so much to offer each other, but online there are often layers of information hidden, and we're too prone to feel isolated.
I came away from the Summit with a much clearer mindset about my business, and pages of new ideas scribbled in great excitement.
So, I'd like to leave you with three ideas…
First, if you attended the Summit of Awesome, or you'd just like to help support the cause, pop over to the Hello Craft website and become a member. Hello Craft is a nonprofit that seeks to support and advance individual crafters and the handmade movement. They do good work. And membership is a nice form of creative tithing.
Second, if you're within range of Seattle this August, you have another chance to get in on this whole powerful face-to-face learning/making experience. Check out the Conference of Creative Entrepreneurs. They have an amazing lineup of workshops, and I highly recommend it. (And remember, it's a business write-off.)
And that's perhaps one of the nicest things a craft conference can do for you.