Readers of this blog may have noticed that writing on this blog has slowed to a trickle over the last few weeks.
GRACE, one of the organizations that I work for runs a conference called Summit on Racism. Summit on Racism does more than simply talk about how bad racism is. It’s far too easy to talk about racism and do nothing except talk.
The Summit on Racism model includes on-going action teams that work throughout the year. What they do ranges from forming a team (of judges, lawyers, police, etc…) for assisting people who have experienced racial incidents, trying to get local businesses to sign on to examine how they hire (or fail to hire) minorities, actively contacting local media about how they portray minorities, and a lot of other things that I’m unaware of.
It’s gotten a certain amount of attention over the years. We’ve had people from other states attend with an eye toward reimplementing it. I know for sure that it’s been used in Holland, Kalamazoo, and (in the near future) Battle Creek. During the Clinton administration, we actually had regular contact with the White House about it.
I haven’t been involved in the direct action portion of Summit. I do the infrastructure–that is to say that I make sure all the registrations get into GRACE’s database somehow.
As recently as two years ago this meant physically entering registrations into the database. There is nothing quite like entering 800 registrations into a database to really make you dread coming to work.
Last year, fortunately, we went to an all electronic registration system. Enter your data into a form on our web page, pay via Paypal, and you’re all done. Well, you’re all done if Paypal actually decides to take your credit card (which it won’t ncessarily even if the card’s perfectly good). I could go on about that, but that’s another blog entry.
Nonetheless, web page entry really is better. I don’t have to puzzle through people’s handwriting for one thing. Also, due to the fact that everyone else has done the data entry, I only have to worry about getting the information out of the database so that the leadership team can make decisions about how much food to buy or rooms to use.
That doesn’t stop me from doing the occasional 14 hour day, but it’s better than doing a couple weeks of 10-12 hour days.
On the day of Summit on Racism my duties totally change. With all the reports printed out, I have only one thing left to do–photography. As the unofficial photographer of Summit on Racism, I’ve pulled out my cameras for 6 Summits now. This year is the first year I’ve used digital in addition to film.
I can’t say that the pictures are better or worse, but they’re certainly up on our web page sooner. I can pick up the film today, but I’ve already put a few of the digital pictures up on the web site. I’ll hopefully rearrange things to look a bit nicer (and include more pictures) come Monday, but I’m overall happy with digital photograpy at the moment.
On thing though… Thanks to the darkness of the venue, I ended up using the flash a lot, draining the battery only halfway through the event. Had I relied entirely on the digital camera we would have missed the keynote speaker.
Nonetheless, I think things went well. And even if they didn’t, I’m still incredibly relieved to be done with this for the year–and looking forward to next year.