Wednesday, November 28, 2007

NWP at NYC: Day Two

My second day in the City did start with something of a sense of urgency. The hotel somehow didn’t get me my wakeup call, so I overslept by about a half an hour or so. I had to walk about five blocks up to the Javits Center. Before nine. I had missed the Sun Belt first-morning-at-the-conference breakfast; the hotel it was at was in an inconvenient direction. They knew I wasn’t going to be there, so I felt a distinct lack of guilt about it.

About a block or so from the Javits Center I got my first cell phone call asking where I was. I told them and continued. In side the Javits Center it was another long walk to get to the opposite end. The first person I saw wasn’t a Sun Belter, but someone we all know and respect, Sherry Swain of the Mississippi Writing/Thinking Institute. She was talking with several Sun Belters. John, Cathy and Alyson were there, and also Whitney and Susan. Whit looked so happy to be in NYC and superexcited about being at the conference, her first. We made lunch plans then went to our morning sessions. I grabbed me a bagel on the way, so I wouldn’t starve.

I went to one on planning an online presence. As it was a three-hour long workshop, I was hoping for something good. And I was not disappointed. The facilitators started us off writing and discussing with people at our tables. The interaction with other Tech Liaisons (for most of the people there were) was, as always, refreshing. We are in tune and know the challenges the position entails. I am taking back to the group three very important questions. I want to discuss these with the leadership teams and with the site fellows in general. Here are the questions:

How would I describe the identity of Sun Belt?

What stands out most vividly for me about Sun Belt?

What people, places, activities most define Sun Belt?

If any Sun Belters read this, please comment on these. I am eager to know what y’all think.

I have my answers to them, but want to get other perspectives. Maybe I could start a wiki where we could discuss this...

I got to talking with the TL from Winthrop Writing Project out of South Carolina. Brandon was very energetic. He told me a bit about their new teacher initiative and it sounds like that site has it going on. I am hoping to keep in touch with him now that real life has returned.

I met the Sun Belters for lunch. The only place open in the whole of the Javits Center was one pizza fast food place. We were in a food court surrounded by closed fast food places. It was weird. And as the weather was stormy, leaving the Center wasn’t really an option. There were twenty or so people ahead of us on the line. We got on while the getting was good. By the time we finished our lunch and took off, the line stretched for hundreds of people. Poor planning for that part of the conference.

The afternoon session was another three-hour one. This one was ostensibly about planning inservice workshops (on writing and reading) for teachers in all subject areas. Disappointingly, the first presenter talked for over an hour. No interactivity. She had some good ideas, but the sheer length of the presentation wore. The second speaker had multicolored handouts for us to focus on and that was more palatable, but still, almost no interactivity. All in all, I was disappointed.

If you were only interested in the professional portion of the day, you can stop reading here. For the rest of the day, read on.

Then we left. As they searched for a cab, I decided to walk back to my hotel to put up the laptop. I couldn’t see carrying that with me. I hung out in my room a bit and then left to find my friends for drinks before dinner.

I got a call from John that they were at a place called The Social. It was very loud, but they made a halfway decent whiskey sour. We tried to talk for a bit, but it was hard to hear ourselves think, never mind talk. So after John attacked me with a lit candle, spilling white wax on my dark blue shirt, we took off to wander around until it was time for dinner.

We found a little shop that was a mom and pop art place. I looked a lot, but restrained myself. I did buy vicariously. I pointed out a couple of different cards to Whitney, who loved and bought them. I can’t remember the name of the place, but it was pretty cool.
Then dinner. Cathy got us reservations at 44 South West Italian Continental Restaurant. We were joined by Jordan and his boss from JSU. Also Will and Jessica Henry (Jess is a TC from our site) found us and a couple of teachers from Opelika High School who I never really got to meet or talk to, unfortunately. The food was great. The company was better. It was a great time. And the whiskey sour was a little stronger than that at The Social.

Then we broke up, sadly enough, and started to wander back toward the hotels the others were staying at. I wanted to walk around more, and Susie also wanted to walk around. So we broke off from the group and wandered down to Fifth Avenue again. I found out that Susie was also a sci-fi geek. That was cool. Then I got hit over the head by the tired stick and Susie was still busy taking pictures of publishing houses, so we went our separate ways.

I got back to my hotel and slept really well.

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