Tonight I am heading over to Ballston to attend the National Capital Region’s Pagan Leadership Conference. Every year someone asks me why I continue to go. Sometimes the agenda is not something I am interested in. Sometimes the town hall session becomes unbearable. Sometimes there is someone that I really don’t want to interact with who I know will be there. And yet if I don’t have a previous commitment on the calendar, I continue to go.
I find that I actually am looking forward to spending time with other pagans who lead groups and/or are very active in the local community. Swapping stories with people who share the same community organizer disease as I do (or “mad vision and masochism”) is fulfulling to me. Many of these folks are friends I see rarely because we live across the metropolitan area from each other (and we all know that pagans can’t cross running water like the Potomac River…or is that vampires?) and have calendars loaded with the day-to-day activities of coordinating an event or group of people. Other folks will have good ideas about how to handle the challenges we all face. I learn about new groups in the area and new events. I hear about how established groups and events are doing. And I get to meet new leaders, starry-eyed people who are just stepping out on the journey that I remember starting a decade ago. It helps with encroaching cynicism.
This year the official agenda is about financial responsibility, fundraising, and branding. Not personally my cup of tea, although I recognize how important these things are for the functioning of a group, and I believe we all can stand to learn more about them. But for me, as it has always been, it’s the people and the connections I establish and strengthen with my own kind.