The Second Mile As A Community Experience

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Chris Wood
Mike MacIsaac and Shane C
Mike MacIsaac and Shane C in Boulder, Colorado.

By Chris Wood, Johnson City, New York, USA

Editors Note: Chris Wood, a second generation Urantia Book reader, describes how he and two friends decided to embark upon a service project for the Greater Urantia Community.

I remember last August at the Kansas City Farmer's Market, eating spring rolls and talking about the Kansas City youth conference that had just finished, about what we liked, and what we didn't like. And why aren't there more conferences? And Noah, my brother, said, "We should do it again next year." And because we thought that people would prefer a change of venue, we agreed that Boulder would be an excellent choice.

So the seed was planted. In October I called Shane C, who lives in Boulder. Shane liked the idea of having a conference in Boulder, and he said that he would help. In fact, he volunteered to be the impresario of the conference. Then we communicated with Mike MacIsaac and infected him with the Boulder youth conference bug. In January we signed a contract with the University of Colorado at Boulder.

Urantia Boulder: The Second Mile and Beyond will be an experiment that we are running for the Greater Urantia Community from June 25 to 28. Can three persons plan, organize, and put on a conference? If so, then it opens up a whole new world of possibilities. We raked the leaves of our conversation into a pile of the following guidelines for the experiment:

First, keep it inexpensive. We reasoned that we needed to balance higher travel cost with lower conference cost.

Second, make no money. Mike, Shane, and I are not an organization. We have no need to fundraise. Conferences can be ends in themselves, not means to an end.

Third, aim small with room for expansion. We think fifty people is a great conference size. Don't get me wrong. I love a good, five- hundred person conference, but during the off years, when large conferences are not being held, we need small, local conferences. At the same time, if 150 people show up, we've got to be prepared, and we are.

Fourth, allow for unscheduled time. The most important event at a conference is often the hour- long conversation you have in a hallway, not the hour- long plenary speech. We want to balance a good program with enough time to allow for these conversations.

Fifth, experiment with the program. A small local conference is a great place to try different plenary lengths and different workshop styles. It's a great place to get new people up on the stage for ten, twenty, or thirty minutes. We can balance the established with the emerging talent.

Finally, believe and trust that a small, dedicated team can put on a conference. Three of us made a six- month commitment, six people made a one- month commitment, and two dozen people made a one weekend commitment.

We truly believe that if you assemble fifty readers of The Urantia Book, they will make their own fun. Our job is not to get in the way. The Boulder conference is an experiment. Success for the conference will be fifty people walking away saying, "That was good." Success for the experiment will be small groups walking away saying, "We could do that. Heck, we could do that better." And hey, there is no big conference in 2010. If we can plant that idea in your mind in June, well then you're already two months ahead of schedule.

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Questions? Contact Chris Wood:
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