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Behind the Scenes By Michelle Russell


TheseFeetWereMadeforWalking Confessions of a serial walker. Y


ears ago, my daughter showed some classmates a photo ofour dog, who has a


distinctive curly red-brown coat. “I know that dog!” several ofthem exclaimed. It turns out that they had often seen “some lady” walking that dog all over town. That would be me. I’m a walker. It started


years ago when I used to commute intoNew York City from the other side of the Hudson River. After sitting for an hour on a bus in rush- hour traffic, the last thing I wanted to do was climb on another bus or the subway to get across town tomyoffice. So, for the seven years I commuted into


Manhattan, I never once tookNewYork City public transportation. I power-walked a half- hour each way to work no matter what the weather. It wasmysaving grace. Whilemydaily walks today may not be as aerobic an activity— it’s hard to build up steam when your canine companion stops every two seconds to explore a new scent—they still help me to clearmyhead. The same goes for when I travel to meetings.


Hard to Fill His Shoes


This month,we regretfully say good- bye to Convene Senior Editor Hunter Slaton, who accepted a position at a website dedicated to another industry. Hunter was an asset to our editorial team and he will be sorely missed. He left on a high note— don’t miss his final Convene CMP Series cover story for insights on managing volun- teers (p. 46), as well as his other contributions to this issue.


6 pcmaconvene February 2012


I’m not a big fan of sitting in sessions all day and then boarding a bus back to the hotel or to a long sit-down dinner event. I want to get to the next place onmyown two feet. As I write this, we’ve just returned fromPCMA’s Convening Leaders in San Diego, where I walked tomy heart’s content.Myhotel was a short walk to the convention center, which was across the street or down the block from where many of our evening events were held. Ofcourse, it didn’t hurt that most venues faced sparkling San Diego Bay, and that we were in Southern California in January, where the temperature hovered in the 60s. Walkability has also grown into a major


draw for the residents and visitors of many sec- ond-tier cities, Convene Senior Editor Barbara Palmer found when researching “More Than Just a Pretty Place” (p. 59). Planners who choose meeting destinations with a compact, pedestrian-friendly downtown do more than spare their organizations the expense ofshuttle buses and their attendees any number ofcab fees. They give the environment a carbon break, and many oftheir attendees a mental one. Getting out to explore cities, particularly


those with well-designed public spaces and nat- ural landscapes, just plain makes us feel better. “We are surrounded by self-help books and life coaches that have led us to believe that our well- being is something that [is] a matter ofdoing internal work,” author and urbanist Charles Montgomery told Barbara. But, he said, “the evidence suggests that this is not completely true.We are products ofour environment, and the shapes and systems in which we move can affect how we feel, how we regard each other, and how we behave.” All of which has widespread implications for meetings ofall kinds. 





THE LAW OF TWO FEET: In this issue, we profile the MassTLC Innovation unCon- ference, whose unstructuredformat is carefully planned out (see p. 36). One of the groundrules of unConferences is that if a session turns out not to be what you hadhoped for, it’s perfectly acceptable to walk out. That practice might seem rude, but if it’s attendee satis- faction you’re after, you don’t want par- ticipants to feel they’re being held captive by sessions that don’t interest them. I sat in the back


of every Convening Leaders 2012 General Session, andI can tell you that there wasn’t a lot of walking out going on. The speak- ers were captivating, andin some cases, mind-blowing. See our annual meeting photo highlights starting on p. 14.


Michelle Russell Editor in Chief mrussell@pcma.org


www.pcma.org


MICHELLE RUSSELL PHOTOGRAPHED BY DENNIS CHALKIN


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