This wonderful, small writer’s conference held at Chesapeake Community College each February is part of the writer outreach that Laura and I do. We’ve been involved for about the same length of time. Laura is the “designer” of the look of the conference (program, tote bags, etc.) as well as any other jobs she’s assigned. I originally got involved as a way of connecting to the writing community after we moved to the Eastern Shore. I’ve been a BTO worker bee and done a lot of things, but my favorite is being the Speaker Liaison.
Writers Helping Writers
Once we create a list of the speakers and topics we want, emails or calls go out. Almost all who are asked agree to give us a day of their time. This year I went back to several and asked if they would do two sessions instead of one. I was humbled when all agreed: Kate Blackwell, Robert Bidinotto, Barbara Esstman, Melanie Rigney and Austin Camacho. Terry Plowman and Sue Ellen Thompson will moderate panels in addition to separate sessions. The speakers get a small honorarium, but it is their willingness to share with other writers that is so impressive. You can see the 2013 schedule at http://www.baytoocean.com/2013-Program.html
More Classrooms and More Toilets
Last year some classes were filled to overflowing, something the Fire Marshall frowns upon. Each classroom at the college has a maximum number of occupants and we are supposed to make sure that is followed. We had some disappointed people who couldn’t get into the sessions they wanted. The other problem last year was not enough restrooms to accommodate people during the fifteen minute break between sessions.
We looked at alternative venues, but none were as good as Chesapeake College. Laura even sourced a toilet trailer that could be parked outside the Kent Humanities Building where the conference is held. One day Laura and I were at the college and noticed a building a few steps from Kent. We investigated and were able to add two more large classrooms and two more bathrooms. Inside bathrooms will be much better than a toilet trailer in February.
More Writers Helping Writers
The Bay to Ocean Writers Conference is organized by writer volunteers. Diane Marquette has been a backbone for years and besides a comprehensive “croak” book of how to run the conference, she has all the institutional knowledge in her head. This year Diane, Laura and I are the BTO Conference Co-coordinators. In its 16th year, the conference is a well oiled machine with a cadre of writer volunteers who all step up and do their jobs. Every year the energy at the conference is palpable and by the end of the day our heads are full of new ideas and we are juiced to go home and write.