Wednesday, March 26, 2014

The Unconference!

Time for something a little different. From March 22 to 23, the BIL Conference, or un-conference, descended on Vancouver. Held at 560 Seymour, this was two days of learning and having our minds opened to other possibilities.

The 'un-conference' is powered by volunteers and there were a lot of us there. People came together and worked hard to help this event go. It was interesting and really didn't feel like work.

When I walked in Friday evening to help with the initial set up, I knew I was in for a unique experience. Something was in the air that night, an excitement concerning what we were going to do. I, for one, felt like I was a part of something great.

The atmosphere Saturday was electric. And it was busy. Speakers were on the main (Alpha) stage one after another and in the smaller room, Beta stage, people gathered in a more informal manner to listen to a speaker.

Here's a list of some of the speakers and their topics:

Joel Solomon - Something About Money
Tammy Lea Meyer - My Voice Matters
Esther Shannon - Decriminalization of Sex Work
Karen Magill - MS is a Gift (Yes, I faced my fear of public speaking and got up on the main stage and talked! I loved it and can't wait to do it again.)
Tzeporah Berman - This Crazy Time: people, pipelines and politics
Mary Gavan - Storytelling - why bother
Cat - Confronting the phobia of death
Anne Marie Fontainha - Change Your Mind -Change Your Life
Don Barker - Innovative Mining Technology
Cathy Browne - My Story as a Blind Photographer
David Joel Hiebert (and his daughter Grace) - Gratefully Going Green (a children's book)
Marc Smith - Turning an Accident into a Career
There was even a decentralized dance party!

So as you can see, there were varied topics and this isn't all of them. I just tried to list a sampling of talks. BIL was also honoured with the appearance of Amanda Palmer, Neil Gaiman and Jason Webley. 

Sunday was quieter. Not as many volunteers or people but it was still enjoyable. There were many speakers on both stages and it was intriguing. I will admit though that I missed many speakers because I was working in the hallway or with other things around the venue.

As you saw by the list of different speakers, there were many topics and discussions that made a person think. Now, a person may not agree with everything that a speaker says - may even think they are an idiot - but give the speaker kudos for getting up there and facing one of our species greatest fears - public speaking. In fact, some say that the fear of public speaking is greater than that of even death.

Another thing I was impressed with were the people involved. The organizers and the volunteers and the speakers were all so gracious and friendly. I don't think I have been hugged so much in one weekend as I was over those two days. And I am still feeling the warmth and energy of those two days.

I know these photos aren't the usual quality shown on this blog. However, they were taken in a club with my phone. If you have a chance to go to a BIL Conference, do it. It is an experience you won't soon forget. And if you are in the Vancouver area, stay tuned. The un-conference is supposed to be here next year too.

I hope you find the beauty around you.


  1. The only thing to fear is fear itself and you conquered the demon. So proud of you. Looks like it was fun and educational.

    1. It was so much fun. I want to stay involved with the conference in future years.