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Arlene Andrews
Arlene Andrews

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On the boat with Women In Agile Open in Cleveland, 2019

I want to open with a sincere “thank you!” to Matt Heusser and all the rest who made this trip possible: it provided an experience with many firsts for me: I am still absorbing all the different perspectives that I was exposed to, and now can use to further my career. I have a few articles that I want to write, both expanding on the topics I was involved in, and the general principles that governed the conference.

My trip took more out of me than I anticipated: this was my first time taking a flight of this length. The change of altitude and water made me reluctant to go out, as much as I wanted to. A quick text to April Jefferson went unanswered: a look at my clock told me why - I’d missed the opening of the networking evening, and there were plans for later that night.

The text of “You will be there when it’s right” made the whole mess worthwhile, proved that the Open Space principals were alive and in practice at the conference, and gave me permission to take the time I needed to recover. I took a day recovering, and explored the neighborhood a bit. I wanted to go, and was mostly delighted that social media was quiet about the event - that, I hoped, meant that what was happening was more important than sharing pictures and thoughts instantly.

I was able to go out and visit with a friend, enjoying a meal and tagging along while she got dessert for the family. A short drive to the waterfront, and the quiet of the lake after dark was a contrast to the rush of people and cars downtown. This was a good hint that I would be able to attend the next day. And that, I was looking forward to.

I made darn sure that the alarm was set - I wasn’t going to miss the chance to at least meet some of these wonderful folks in person. Having a driver who wasn’t sure where I was going made it an adventure for both of us, but a successful one. The Lean Dog office is a lovely spot, and outdoor tables provided a spot so I could enjoy the morning come in. Since I was the first one there, I had the option to take a quiet stroll around the boat, and enjoy both the ducks nearby, and watch the sky change as morning arrived more fully.

I felt welcomed from the moment April arrived, and finding myself in charge of getting the coffee ready, I was able to interact with a portion of them as they came in. The sense of adventure increased with every person that came in the door. There were some that I wanted to speak to, because of the conversation that was happening as they came in. The team from Lean Dog made us very welcome, and made a good backbone for the conference: you could see that they used these ideas and communication techniques on a daily basis.

From opening Circle through the shared Lyft to the airport, the offerings and generous sharing of information, ideas, and suggestions flowed naturally. Laughter and willingness to support each other, and the teams we would be returning to made the impact even larger - since the concepts were often ones that needed to be discussed both now, and after much thought. Watching the people who had things to share, and being willing to combine sessions in order to expand the perspectives that each had to offer on similar topics made the openness of the sessions even more welcome: being able to switch groups and contribute to multiple areas was a necessary thing a few times!

I was sad to leave the physical group: I didn’t get a chance to explore ideas with everyone I wanted to (nor could I have with even a week of time!) but the probability of staying in contact via the Slack channel makes it an ongoing conversation. As we all wish could happen with some conferences. I look forward to continuing the connections made, and joining the group in person again in the future.

Discussion (3)

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hakash profile image
Morten Olsrud

I'm proud of you for making it there, and I am thrilled that you found a place to share and learn in a safe environment with support from likeminded people!

Keep up the good work, both here, on various Slacks, Twitter etc, but remember to breathe and take time for yourself.

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arleneandrews profile image
Arlene Andrews Author

I shall! And the extra time there was a change of environment, so I came back thankful for what I have, here.