Friday, July 16, 2010

Garden Writers Conferences

I’ve ignored the Garden Writers Association symposium calls so far, but the promo stuff landed in my mailbox yesterday, compelling attention.

In my third year of GWA membership and I’ve not attended an annual symposium yet. So, this year . . . to go or not to go?

Keynoter Kierstin De West intrigues, Felder Rushing is a draw anywhere, anytime, but is a 4-day conference with 24 break-out sessions still a viable model? The garden tours have no appeal for me (what grows in East Texas does not necessarily grow in North Georgia) and what can we learn in person that we cannot learn online? I recently spent half a day attending a virtual summit (fee: $99) with speakers that included Arianna Huffington, David Meerman Scott and Edie Weiner. For three months afterwards, a few mouse clicks will take me back there and I can make sure I caught all the salient bits.

How do accidental gardeners and business writers like me justify a $1,500 (conference fee, airfare, hotel) adventure? I’m not interested in “winning” a camera or iPad, I don’t care who sponsors the name badge holders and attendance assures me that I’ve got a two in three chance of picking the wrong break-out session – eight times!

What if, instead, I followed Kiersten De West’s vision of sustainability and innovation more closely on-line for the next year or so? What if I attended Felder Rushing’s next event in North Georgia (you’ve got to see his truck-bed garden, y’all!)? What if I spent $500 on more books? I could sit in my garden, read books, add $1,000 to my cash flow, and would not have to take off my shoes at any time - unless I just wanted to and make a toe connection with the turf . . . 

Now that’s appealing!


Unknown said...

Excellent commentary, and timely for me. I'm off to Copenhagen to help with my son's family as he attends a conference, and the cost is significant. I think of it as a holiday, but I also think of how it could be done differently.

One caveat, though. In some situations there is nothing like pressing the flesh, having those live 'after the session' talks. Networking.

Lya Sorano said...

Absolutely! It's difficult to determine ROI from 'pressing the flesh' or networking. When I consider going to a conference, I determine my goals and then contact the organizers and/or 'old-timers' to get their views of how likely this conference is going to meet those goals.

Thanks for commenting, and I hope Copenhagen this month is all you have wanted it to be.