For the past few months I have been part of the organizing team for a conference that was held Wednesday, Thursday, Friday here in Calgary. The 7 cities Conference on Housing First and Homelessness attracted over 410 delegates, 85 presenters and people from across Canada.
When we were planning for the event, we wanted to create a space where knowledge could be shared, ideas sparked and successes recognized, as well as a place to learn from mistakes so we could all do better. We also wanted to create a space where we celebrated the amazing people who are at the front lines and in the back offices planning, organizing and mapping out strategies to end homelessness.
We decided to create a Photo Booth with a Hero Wall — a space where delegates could dress up, act silly, and take photos of their ‘inner hero’. People were also invited to complete two statements on a piece of coloured paper — Ending homelessness means… and Excellence already turns up in my work… and to hold their answers up while they were having their photo taken in the photo booth.
The second question came from a conversation I had prior to the conference with one of our Friday keynote speakers, Michelle Cederberg. When I explained the Hero Wall she quickly identified ways to tie it in with her talk — and even came to the Thursday noon keynote session to ensure she aligned her talk with the theme of the conference and the audience. Her insightful and high-energy talk on energizing for excellence inspired everyone with simple and practical ways to take care of themselves. She offered helpful tips on feeding and tapping into our personal pool of internal energy so that we can direct our outward attention, in a healthy way, at the important work of ending homelessness. (I highly recommend Michelle as a keynote speaker)
Ending homelessness is hard work.
Having fun is good self-care.
When we were in the planning stages for the conference there was some concern the Photo Booth would be a dud. Nobody would dress-up. People would think it was silly.
We needn’t have worried.
The Photo Booth was a huge hit!
It showed very clearly that — we all want/need to ‘let our sillies out’, as Week 7’s Act of Grace suggested.
Taking ourselves too seriously can wield a death blow to creativity, energy, enthusiasm and compassion.
Cutting loose, letting your hair down, letting it all hang out — they are antidotes to the weary that can overshadow our work and lives when we get stuck trying to push through each day pulling our energy out of an empty well.
Did you ‘let your sillies out’ last week? How did it go?