Re: Why come to the North American Conference this year?
From: David Mandel (
Date: Fri, 22 Aug 1997 04:16:54 -0500
I have decided to try hard to attend, work, family and finances permitting
-- and I really hope everyone else who is wavering will decided to as well
-- but I must say I'm very skeptical about the lack of any advance agenda,
panels, etc.

A panel in which certain people consult with each other beforehand and
prepare presentations is not necessarily "academic" in the negative sense
you seem to assume, Rob. The best sessions I attended (and, I dare say,
some in which I participated as a panelist) at the previous two Boulder
conferences and the Calif. regional one last year succeeded especially
because volunteer panelists connected with each other beforehand, organized
and divided the topic in a coherent manner and prepared succinct
presentations with time alloted and flexibility allowed for other attendees
to add their comments and even steer the discussion is some different
directions. Some great written material was prepared in advance and
distributed not only to those who attended the particular panel but also to
others at the conference who chose a different panel at the same time but
wanted to benefit from the one they missed as well.

Yeah, there were a few crummy panels, mostly, I think, led by people who
weren't connected to the cohousing movement enough to know what
participants wanted. But these were the exception, and I think the lessons
were noted by this year's organizers.

Sure it will be fun to reunite with some of the old guard and meet the
movers of newer communities and groups. And I really do hope I'm proven
wrong in my conservative preference for more planning and organization. But
I fear a lot of wasted time will be spent talking about what we want to
talk about and then having discussions that are long on spontanaeity but
short on practical useful information that will stick with us.

Is it too late to try to organize some panels on topics we know are
important to a lot of us?

David Mandel

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