2020 was the year that threw us all for a loop.
It forced us to stop in our tracks pretty much overnight to evaluate what we do – and whether we could still do it – in a time of pandemic.
The short answer was, “No we cannot hold in person events.” None. For the entire year and into the next.
Digging deeper, we asked the question, “What CAN we do in a time of pandemic to keep our community thriving and sharing and supporting each other?” What happened in the following months was quite spectacular. Our younger staff – the 20 and 30 and 40 somethings – stepped up and said, “There is technology we can use to hold virtual conferences and create new ways to reach our community.” Virtual FFLs, Screenside Chats, and Masterpiece Product Theaters were created. Our sponsors and partners loved the ideas and were enthusiastic about supporting us.
Jeff Hitchcock designed a virtual platform for the July Friends for Life conference that was so rich and interactive that it became a model for other organizations’ events. Instead of the usual 2,000 participants in FFL Orlando, the event reached nearly 6,000 adults and kids around the world. It taught us that, while we so value the in person connections at our FFL gatherings, we need to continue to make the content and social connections accessible to those who cannot be there in person.
What does the future hold? Well, my work is cut out for me. As the world re-opens and conferences and gatherings are once again allowed, we will head down a brand new path, one that combines the old and the new. Still in fun places like Disney and DC and Seattle and New York – yet accessible to those for whom it’s best to join virtually.
Before 2020, I’d never heard of the technology Zoom. Now, just a year later, CWD has an entire team who are leaders in new technologies and ways to keep our worldwide community together, safely learning and supporting each other. It’s a little scary. And exciting.
I’m looking forward to the road ahead and thrilled to share it with you!
Friends for Life,