Sometime in the fall of 2014 I heard about a “Local Prosperity” conference to take place in Annapolis Royal in April 2015. It sounded really interesting and I thought I would like to be involved in some capacity. I filled in the form on the website and offered to volunteer. Apparently I was quite quick off the mark and after a phone chat with one of the organizers I was asked to coordinate the other volunteers for the event.
It was an ambitious event. Take a few hundred people to a small town in rural Nova Scotia and add a large number of speakers and panelists from near and far and try to pull off a successful conference. Oh and by the way, we will do it in a recently closed school which has had much of the furniture and other equipment removed. On top of just organizing the conference, many of the sessions were going to be recorded on video, and all were going to have audio recordings made too.
There were times when I worried if the organizers would be able to pull off such a feat – were they being too ambitious? The team effort was amazing though. The logistics coordinator was fantastic and she also recruited many of the volunteers for me. I also twisted a few arms of people I knew to help out in volunteer roles. Chairs and tables had been rented, projectors and laptops borrowed, audio equipment rented and professional videographers agreed to come and film parts of the conference. It was truly a community effort. Coffee and tea for breaks was provided by a local caterer – as were the sandwiches for lunchtime. When we needed a spotlight as the stage was too dark, one was borrowed from the King’s Theatre which is just down the road.
I sometimes experience “volunteer’s remorse” and hit a certain moment when I think “why did I volunteer to do this? I don’t have time. I could be asleep, eating, watching TV or anything else instead”. I hit this moment about two weeks from the event. Luckily that passes fairly quickly and when you get in the middle of an event it is exciting, enjoyable and you get to meet so many lovely people. This event was no different.
The speakers and delegates were amazing. Engaging, friendly, polite and really impressed with what we had managed to achieve. On the last day so many people came into our office to thank the volunteers for making the conference run so smoothly. That was very gratifying to hear.
As well as being a smoothly run event it was also fascinating and allowed for a great deal of knowledge exchange. I have included below some of my photographs but you can also watch some of the keynote speeches and see some of the slides on the Local Prosperity Website.