Reflections on OTWC Season 1 Kickoff

This past Wednesday was the Olive Tree Writing Club’s Winter 24 kickoff, also known as Season 1. Normally, our Wednesday writing sessions are limited to 25-30 people, but for the season kickoff, we decided to try a larger session with 50 participants.

We sent an email to our list announcing the kickoff event and received 50 RSVPs solely through that channel. Additionally, we had 50 people on the waitlist the day before the event. Previously, reaching 40 RSVPs for past kickoff events was difficult, but now here we are getting over 100 RSVPs for our session.

The event was organized chaos - loud and crowded, yet enjoyable for attendees. To accommodate the 50 people, we made a few changes. Instead of starting with intros and intentions, which would have taken a long time with 50 people, we immediately divided everyone into groups. We asked a few community members to facilitate intros and discussions within each group. This approach had multiple benefits. First, it engaged our community members and made them feel invested in the event’s success. Second, it created a welcoming atmosphere for new attendees, reducing the likelihood of them leaving before the breakout sessions began, as had happened in the past.

While the kickoff was deemed successful, we will not continue holding Wednesday sessions with 50 participants. The session was interesting to observe, but it became crowded and the space became uncomfortably warm. Additionally, I found it difficult to hear people across the table from me because of the noise level.

I find it fascinating to observe the evolution of each kickoff and its changes over time. Initially, our community faced the challenge of attracting participants, but now we have a different challenge: managing the high demand of people wanting to attend within our limited capacity. While it’s a positive situation to be in, it presents us with difficult decisions to make.

January 14, 2024

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