Camille Ferrier, Communications Officer, Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences
On arriving at the University of Calgary campus for the Congress 2016 Planning Meeting, I was immediately struck by the brilliant fall colours. It was Wednesday, September 30, 2015, and thousands of multicoloured leaves carpeted the beautiful grounds. Between the new EEEL building where the President's receptions will be held, the Rozsa Centre’s Eckhardt-Grammatté Hall concert venue with its incredible acoustics (where Big Thinking lecturers will be speaking), and the large and bright Jack Simpson Gymnasium where registration will take place and the Congress Expo will proudly display its new booths, I already feel this Congress will be a success. And let's not forget the Den & Black Lounge, where attendees acquainted with the Beer Tent tradition will find an incomparable selection of food and beverages. I was lucky enough to stay at the friendly Hotel Alma right on campus. But those who prefer the city centre can choose from a wide range of hotels at preferential Congress rates, most of them on the CTrain line. And the campus is just 15 minutes from downtown! One might even say Congress 2016 will feel like a vacation.
But to return to the reason for my visit: the Planning Meeting. Under the Rozsa Centre's beautiful vaulted roof, local arrangement coordinators and program chairs eagerly picked up their Planning Guides and sat at their places with a hot coffee. Before a packed hall, the presentation unfolded: How do I book a room using the Congress Request System? How do I obtain Federation funding? What media opportunities will there be for my association?
As a member of the Federation communications team, participating in this site visit is a milestone in my role in the Congress planning process. I have learned a great deal, and watched these Congress organizers take careful notes to master what can be a daunting role! Deadlines will be frequent and firm and the organizers need to compile a lot of information in a short time. But they have ample support. After all, this is the 85th year of Congress! The Federation and University of Calgary teams are there to guide them through the process, and everything is clearly explained in the Planning Guide. Email reminders of important deadlines will be sent to them each Friday.
Aside from the lovely campus and the helpful information shared at the meeting, I have come away with a new vision for Congress 2016. It took shape before my eyes, and the way forward became clear. I have a better understanding of the issues and am slowly but surely mastering the planning process. In eight months I will return to this place with more than 8,000 attendees. I hope that aside from their respective association conferences, there will be a meeting of minds, our shared knowledge will build bridges, and the spirit of Congress will ensure an unforgettable event. Based on what I've seen in the last two days, I believe anything is possible.