2013 Conference

Over the Rainbow, June 21 – 23, 2013

Olds College, Olds Alberta

Little did this year’s organizers realize when choosing the theme for our annual conference, just how prophetic the phrase “Over the Rainbow” would prove to be.

Who could have predicted that the weekend of floods and evacuations, storm damage and panic would coincide with our planned conference events? As a result, the 2013 conference did not go quite as planned, but the core essentials were still there in some form: friendship, education and sharing…. It was so good to see many of our old friends and we all pulled together to see light at the end of the rainbow and to make it the best possible event in such trying circumstances. Last year, our conference organizers had provided input to Olds College regarding the classes that we would like to see offered and the teachers that we wanted to be included in the workshop schedule. Our members were enthusiastic about the variety of great classes that Olds College had organised for us and it was fun to have so many new faces around throughout the weekend. We thank the Sheep Creek Weavers for all their hard work in organizing and superhuman efforts in hosting this conference.

Because we rely on our organizing volunteers to allow the conference to proceed smoothly, it was difficult for some events to not feel the effect of our missing members. One of most affected events was our juried show.   If you can believe it, the “volunteer crew” for the show was a group of gals from High River, stranded and dealing with more important issues. These folks were to have supervised the juried show in the Olds College library. When it became apparent that this would no longer be possible, Kathy Sosnowski and her volunteers somehow managed to safely gather the items and put up a “bare bones” show for the evening at the Friday banquet venue. Members who attended were treated some truly fabulous work. Since so few were able to see it, we are working on a way to possibly show it later this year – maybe in various venues around the province or as a virtual show. Stay tuned about that!

Tom McFall from the Alberta Craft Council was to have spoken at the banquet, but it was felt that we wouldn't have given him justice with the reduced numbers at the banquet–plus, there were bad roads in the Red Deer region due to flooding there.  We will find a way of rescheduling his talk, he has a wealth of knowledge about Craft in Alberta which we can tap.

Due to state of emergency in Calgary and extreme weather conditions elsewhere in the province, extensive travel restrictions resulted in only 33 members in attendance at the scheduled 2013 AGM. A count of the current membership list showed 140 individual members and 8 member guilds, quorum to pass motions at this AGM would require 35 members to be present.  Prior to calling the meeting to order, there was a discussion regarding how to best deal with a lack of quorum. It was decided that a 2 stage meeting would allow us to present reports, have discussions and make motions on Friday evening and the meeting could hopefully be completed on Sunday with a larger voting contingent of members present at that time. On Saturday, with the help of our new VP Kathleen Long, we organised proxy votes, and the good news is that the AGM was completed at an additional meeting that was added to the scheduled luncheon on Sunday June 23rd.

In addition to attending our conference, HWSDA members were on hand to help Olds College celebrate their Centennial. We were acknowledged as long-time supporters of Fibre Week, and were thanked for our contributions to the looms and spinning wheels fundraiser for the Master Weavers and the Master Spinners programs. Siri McCormick spoke at the Fibre Week Saturday social event about HWSDA and all that it has to offer to members, particularly mentioning its value to the graduates of the Master spinner and weaver programs.

Olds College had organized a record number of vendors to be on hand for their Fibre Week Merchant Mall. Such a wonderful variety of everything fibre related available for us to touch, try and buy. It is always so gratifying to see so many local fibre suppliers make the effort to attend this event and bring their world class wares to share with us.

Bonnie Datta was our guest speaker for the Sunday lunch. Bonnie is a renowned Alberta weaver with a deep understanding of weaving structure and technique, and has a special interest in the handweaving of other cultures.  While we munched on our specially prepared boxed lunches, she gave a fascinating slide lecture about her recent trip to Bhutan and Assam, India, and to add depth to her anecdotes, she brought along some gorgeous handwoven cloth from these areas for us to touch and admire.

During our lunch, Karsten Henriksen, the dean of the School of Environment + Continuing Education at Olds College gave us an overview about the ways in which the Olds College is able to work “outside the box” and partner with groups for new programs and initiatives. He assured us that even though the Olds administration may be experiencing a personnel change, he was excited to be working with our group and would like to collaborate with us in future projects and events. What he had to say was really interesting, and definitely food for thought.

We are still looking for a guild to offer to act as the “host guild” for next year’s conference.

Time is ticking, and we need to get moving on this event planning as soon as we can. Many aspects of our next conference get dealt with as soon as the previous one is completed.

Due to the “perfect storm of awful”, we agreed that this year’s event was not a reasonable test of the combined HWSDA Conference/Fibre Week. Perhaps we should look at holding the conference at Olds again next year. Even though it was a “trial by flood” we learned a lot, and have ideas for improvements for next year. We would really like input from our membership for ideas with this. Half the organizing work is done by Olds College, (they find teachers, organize classes, deal with vendors and set up their own social events) so we need only take care of the remaining conference events. As always, the HWSDA executive will help in any way.

We look forward to hearing from you.

Lyn Pflueger and the executive