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- an exercise in folly  by Melissa Ellen Penn, MA


Tuesday, April 21, 2015  2:18am

So there I am, all set up and ready to go in  the 

Boulder Creek Room of the Boulder Public Library.

The slides are loaded, the handouts waiting, the tech

is working, and 25 people have RSVP’d

 - it’s all good, right?


No one came.  Not one.  My friend Michael had 

joined me, and it was he that took the 3 pictures at

the last minute to prove that I at least was there.

(aren’t the cloth holders cute…NOT.)

OK - on to Plan D (because A, B, and C had crashed

on the rocks)  Where can I create an event on the fly,

at the last minute.  WAIT!  Eureka!  My church!

There’s a captive audience.  So I check the schedule

to see if anything is scheduled after Sunday services, there isn’t, so I give Mike a call to see if I can offer the program to anyone willing to stay after services.  I figure that I will have at least 5 or so people.  Mike’s glad to help, and will get back to me.  He never does.

Great - I’ve volunteered countless hours for them, and that can’t even return a simple phone call. (#(%%TI&!!)  I give up.  Really.  I’m done.

So here’s how it all began.

PLAN A - The 67th Council on World Affairs is taking place during the class break.  It’s the perfect venue to give the Caring Economy Campaign presentation.  Thousands of people in attendance, many of whom will have a strong interest in this work.  Perfect.  

I contact the CWA administration.  They LOVE the idea of our work.  However, because the format is a panel discussion, I can’t actually be a part of the CWA, however they are open to me posting an event, handing out flyers, and running my event along side theirs.  (I make a note to think about how we can create a panel for next year.)

It’s March 28th. I trot off to the Department of Economics to obtain a room on campus.  However, there are exams, and a lite staff, and although I find out the names of contacts they aren’t available.  So I go home and write three professors, telling them all about The Caring Economy Campaign.  I am selecting the one’s whose background and philosophy’s ought to mesh with our focus.  I wait.

Two of the three profs answer.  One is out of the country, and the other one - the woman I thought would be excited about this, is well….not.

I leave a message for the women who schedules the rooms.  It turns out that she is out of town, ad I receive an email auto-responder.  So how do I get a room.

NOTE: I’ve taught at Cal for decades (University of California, Berkeley).  I’m so used to signing up for rooms, that I never expected to  encounter the obstacles I found at CU).

So I again go back to campus.  It’s now April 2nd.  I pitch the idea to whomever I can find, but now the school is in Spring Break mode, and no one’s around.  One of the Admins is incredibly helpful and suggests that I contact the student union.  So I trek across campus to find the building.  It’s the Student Union.  hmmmm.  To far away from the main venue of CWA to be of much value in leveraging their audience, but I do meet their administrators, and they are open to helping me promote a large event there in the Fall.  OK, good.

Now what about this year?  I need venues because I’m new to Colorado and honestly don’t have a lot of friends here.  I have acquaintances via the Unity Church, and my synagogue, but all proposals have to work their way through committee meetings, that can take up to six weeks. They already have my proposals.  I’ve already explained, in detail, about the Campaign to my friends, they really don’t need to hear about it again.  Really.

Arrggghhh.  Now what?  

PLAN BI run around town looking for venues.  Riverside,and Community Work Space are open to proposals, great.  Same problem as Unity.  I send proposals and continue looking.  Eureka, the libraries have rooms - but will they have openings at this late date?  There is one opening in Boulder, it’s immediately after our class.  I take it.

Now for PR.  I create flyers. It’s now the 67th Council for World Affairs, and I’ve checked the schedule to make sure I go to every event about women, the economy, and the state of minorities and women.  I do, handing out flyers as I attend.  I don’t just leave them out - I hand them to each person, telling them what the event is, that it is a requirement for my certification, and that I’d love to see them there.  

All the while I am working on my new radio show for Voice America Radio, contacting sponsors, sending out proposals, etc.  I get a freelance writing job.  DRAT!  However, money calls.  I take time to complete the application spec for a tech firm.  They forgot details.  Arrggh, I incorporate them and send them off.  Done!

Meanwhile, back at the CWA - I keep attending seminars.  By the end of the conference I have 25 RSVP’s out of 200 flyers.  Not bad.  Riverside calls me back, let’s set a date.  The Highland Club wants a proposal, they’re interested.  Colorado State is interested, and will I drive to Fort Collins to meet with them.  Sure!  

So I review the content of the slide show, settle on 10 slides, spend my last $$ for color copies of the handouts, and 2 large foam-board posters for display in the library’s lobby, and set up shop.  I decide to forego food, and focus on the seminar.  

I try to test the set up, but the rooms completely booked, so I can’t. 

Event day.  I attend our class, deal with more proposal requests.  I triage a friend who is in crisis.  Then I look up.  4pm.  WHAT????  My practicum starts at 5:30pm.  Speed to the library.  Realize that I don’t have the correct cable.  Sweet talk an admin into loaning me one (against policy.)  So then I jam it into the socket, set up my computer, pray, and it works!  Whoo Hoo.  I run to place posters in lobby.  My friend Michael shows up.  No one else does.  Not one.  No one cancels via email.

There I am, in the library, all set up, and there’s no one there. You’re kidding right?  Michael takes a few snaps of me just to prove I’m there.  I collect my stuff, and Michael and I go for coffee.  We brainstorm a bit.

I go home.  Now what to do?  I have to focus on the radio show, and my writing.  

It’s now April  17th.  I decide to give Unity a call.  Now this is an organization that I’ve volunteered for hundreds of hours.  I ask them if I can host a seminar after services, figuring I’ll at least have five people who are willing.  I speak to the guy who runs the AV at the church.  He’s willing, and will talk to the minister.  He never gets back to me. 

I get a call, ‘though.  The sponsor I was counting on to pay for my show’s preproduction - is delaying payment.   

I give up.  I simply go back to bed, pull the covers over my head.  

I call Ann - tell her what’s happened.  Sigh.  She tells me it’s all part of the process, and to present anyway.  OK.


So here’s where I stand:

Future presentations:

May 2015

Hillside Club, Unity of Boulder, City of Lafayette

Summer 2015

Sunrise Ranch


Community Work Space

Fall 2015

Colorado University - Economics Department, Student Building

Colorado State - 

Naropa University

October 2015 - Council for a World Parliament of Religions

December 2015 - Tuhara, New Zealand


I don’t live in Kansas anymore.  Where I come from, if people RSVP, they show up, or they cancel.  There is respect for events and event planners.  People here don’t seem to be willing to color outside the lines.  Spontaneity isn’t something that is easy and graceful here.  So things take a LOT longer than I’m used to.

Also, instead of being met with enthusiastic curiosity - that I’m used to from the San Francisco Bay Area, people view anyone disturbing their normal routine with suspicion here.  It’s odd, I’m not used to it. and I don’t like it.

So I just keep on extending my hand, sending out multiple proposals, and talking to everyone about the exciting possibilities that The Caring Economy and SWEI’s represent.  My life-long feminism is renewed,  My love of Riane is rekindled, and I bow to her wisdom.

This is IMPORTANT work.  It is VITAL work.  While I find that I’m better suited to living on the coasts, it’s here that the work is most needed, of opening up, of encouraging, empowering, educating, and exciting the populace to get brave enough to create real, needed change.  I have spend my whole life working for these changes - especially as they relate to The Global Ethic (see Forum post).  

SWEI’s are my sword, business ventures are my venue, and I will charge into them, branding my Campaign for a New Economy and insist that they take up the challenge and get with the program!  Onward through the fog!

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