I’m pleased to report that everything went well at the Collective Biodiesel Conference. The formidable hurdles I’d predicted turned out to be mere speed bumps and I began wondering why. The short answer is: we all gave a little extra. From conception right through to the event itself, nearly everyone gave 110%.
It started in February when our local planning group began meeting in the kitchen at The Plant. It seemed a bit early to start planning for an August event but I’m glad we did. We met monthly for six months and then weekly in the month before the event. Ideas, problems and solutions came up at these meetings that made them well worth the effort.
We got to work right away. Lyle, Tami and Jenny aggressively pursued a fund raising plan. Bob drafted a solid working budget. Lyle solicited a great line up of speakers. Andy secured class rooms and a lunch chef at the college. I drafted a volunteer plan and started filling the slots.
During the opening remarks, Lyle joked that Bob was going to run this show like a Swiss Train. When Bob took the mic he noted wryly that the train was currently in Northern Italy. Soon enough though, he was pleased to announce that we had made it across the border into Switzerland. That extra step of communicating our intention of staying on schedule also led to success.
Our volunteers were great. They took their tasks seriously and thought of things we hadn’t, discovering needs and figuring out how to fill them. The vendors and performers also outdid themselves. The CBC founding board, who have been hosting this event since 2006 also went above and beyond.
Everything went according to plan giving us the freedom to wander around, keeping an eye out for surprises. When a speaker missed his cue, Lyle seamlessly stepped up and gave a presentation. When we ran out of coffee, realized we needed ice, couldn’t find an extension cord or needed help moving food from the College to The Plant, someone would magically appear and solve the problem.
About halfway through the conference it dawned on me that the participants themselves were contributing to our smooth ride. I’d be walking towards a door with a box and someone would reach over and open it. This was more than a host/guest relationship. Everyone was giving a little extra and the result was a seemingly effortless flow of events.
I shouldn’t have been surprised given the ‘can do’ nature of biodiesel folk. When people commented on how nicely everything was going, I shared my observation. “Imagine how nice it would be,” I said “if everyone always gave a little extra.” And we’d bask in that notion for a moment before turning our attention back to conference.
This morning I stopped at the grocery store, pulled a cart from the stack, filled it up and paid. On my way out, I noticed someone had shoved their cart in the general vicinity of the cart queue but hadn’t bothered to line it up with the others. “Boy,” I thought as I nested both carts, “Wouldn’t it be nice if everyone took an extra moment to leave things the way they found it.” And then I thought of the biodiesel conference and sighed.