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Planning the Savannah Gathering: Behind the Scenes

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I have been on the planning committee for the Slow Travel April "Great Gathering in Savannah '08" for over a year. Our committee has met weekly to plan this event since December of 2006! It seemed so far away at first. (We took a couple weeks off now and then for holidays and vacations.) It has been both a wonderful and interesting experience. I do love planning parties, but this event was different in a number of ways:

1. We had no idea early on how many people would attend.
2. We were planning with people we didn't know well (or had never met) who lived all over the U.S. and Canada. We were in different time zones, sometimes making our meeting times a challenge for some.
3. We all have jobs, families and/or spouses, and other commitments in our busy lives.
4. Working with a committee of 6 different personalities,( though we got along very well, and became friends through this process) sometimes seemed to take longer than doing something alone, where you make all the decisions without discussion (WHO has control issues?). I have been fortunate to have met ALL of the committee members!
5. BUDGET! We wanted to keep it both wonderful, and affordable. NOT my strong suite!

We divided up the many tasks and responsibilities according to our strengths:

SHEENA: Our leader and organizer! Sheena did a great job of keeping us on track and accountable for our tasks, leading each online meeting, and keeping the enormous job of registration accurate with who was coming, who had paid a deposit, and when the final payment had been received. She has made all deposits, and reimbursed expenses. Sheena is our "spread sheet queen of Excel"! She also had our "Welcome Bags" made.

KATHY: Our organized, PR chairman responsible for over a year of weekly countdown posts, newsletters, emails, scouting trip, printing a program, and posting announcements on the Slow Talk message board. Kathy has accepted the many boxes of door prizes that generous members have mailed for her to drive to Savannah!

LESLIE: Our resident travel agent who booked blocks of hotel rooms in Savannah, scouted options for rental houses, and has been working with the nice people at Old Fort Jackson on Saturday night's event and menu.

TERRY: Terry has arranged transportation,( the trolleys), a map of Savannah, and other optional events during the weekend. She has researched emergency info, places of worship, and contacted all registrants to coordinate accommodations and trolley pick-up and drop-off. She takes on all the jobs nobody volunteers for, and will cheerily help any of us when needed.

JAN: Jan has worked with the menus (food, bar, pricing, contracts, and endless details) for both Friday's event at the Gingerbread House, and Sunday's Brunch at Vic's on the River. She is bringing a car load of "stuff" we will need during the weekend, and picking up more the day before the festivities begin in Savannah.Jan is great at details and planning. She and I are shopping for Thursday's "Happy Hour" at our house.

We have had others step up to the plate and help. Brenda has organized a "Ghost Tour", and Marcia is organizing those going to lunch at Paula Deen's "Lady and Sons" Restaurant.

MY PART: I was asked to participate because of my "reputation" for being a "creative party planner with good ideas". My jobs were the "fun stuff": door prizes, entertainment, centerpieces, name tags and other creative details.

Door prizes have been donated generously by members, advertisers, and Slow Travel affiliates. I have kept in touch with all the donors, and coordinated getting these items. What an AMAZING assortment of wonderful gifts we have! This was fun!

Name tags: Brad printed them for us on the computer. I supervised.

Centerpieces: I had a budget of $50. HAHAHA! Do not fear. I only went a teeny bit over budget, and I am ALMOST done, after over 70 hours of "creativity" spread across my kitchen. Brad just smiles and says, "The s___ you do!" (Then he helped.) If I had earned minimum wage for this week's work on the centerpieces, I would have earned about $560 (not counting overtime). I believe the term "obsessive-compulsive" could be used here. The good news is they are NON-breakable, PACKABLE, and REUSABLE. I think they are adorable!

Entertainment: Now this is where I had to get creative. Do not worry... the Slowchicks are NOT appearing in Savannah. I had grander ideas, but a budget of zero. With a mere 240 hours of time and creativity, this was more fun than I can even describe! Brad also put in many hours of "tech support" and other expertise on this project!
We are SO READY!!! You will just have to wait!

Memories of a wonderful weekend with old and new friends? PRICELESS!


Comments (7)

Sheena :

This really has been an interesting project hasn't it? On line meetings with people you have never met - well I hadn't met any when we started, and even now I have only met Palma.

It has been a joy to work with y'all or is it all 'y'all?

Shannon:

Palma, I don't know how you all did it - I can't believe this all started in 2006!

This is sort of like getting married or something, what with all the planning and all. So the only thing I can say is, don't worry, everyone will a great time, and you should too! So if I see you not having a great time, I will MAKE you. Hehe.

sandi @ the whistlestop cafe:

That would be all y'all!

What a great job. I can't wait to sit back and enjoy your efforts =D

See all y'all in Savannah

jgk:

I just hope we are not all stressed out there ao we can have FUN! That's the point, now, isn't it?

FUN is exactly what I am planning on having LOTS of!

Kaydee [TypeKey Profile Page]:

This has really been an interesting process! Six "mature" women, most of whom had never met each other in person when this all got started, meeting every Wednesday evening for a YEAR in a CHAT ROOM to plan a weekend-long party in a city where none of us live, for 80+ people we have met on the internet!

It's going to be a fabulous weekend. I can't believe it is FINALLY less than a month away!

See y'all there!

Kathy

teaberry [TypeKey Profile Page]:

Ditto all of the above.

The "process" has been fun, fruitful, and rewarding; I feel sure that the "product" will be even better.

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