One of the challenges of hosting an online conference is providing social spaces in which participants can interact outside of the formal bounds of the meeting. To this end, we’ll be opening one of our Zoom rooms during large parts of the meeting for informal gatherings. I’ll discuss that more in a later post.
But meetings are also a place where one can gather with friends and colleagues to have fun. Often this is in the form of a banquet on the next to last night, but it can also take other forms in person. In our original meeting in 2020, this was scheduled to be on one of West Chester’s “Swinging Summer Thursdays” in which restaurants give discounts, and the streets are blocked off so that restaurants can put out tables. Gay Street has a super-high density of restaurants, so the feel is like the downtown of a European city. We had planned a roof-top a-la-carte Mexican dinner in West Chester with encouragement to get out and try all the local pubs and breweries that you hadn’t yet encountered.
So in light of this, we felt that providing this element online would be a challenge. The programming committee discussed virtual beer tastings (yum!) as a pale imitation of the in person experience, but these came with large price tags due to shipping costs, and after polling random people including spouses, lab mates, and teaching colleagues, we figured that given the cost (over $100 per person) people would probably rather drink whatever they had on hand and experience something else.
The solution (we hope!) presented itself, when my family attended an online show by an improv comedy troupe we had previously seen in person: Better Than Bacon. This group started out in the early 2000s taking improv classes together, and then moved on to start giving shows. For the past several years they have been a fixture at the local performing arts centers. Furthermore, they often donate their proceeds to non-profits in the area via their Bacon Gives Back initiative.
Better Than Bacon will be providing our Tuesday night (June 8th, 2021) entertainment from 6.30-7.30pm via Zoom. We hope that you will consider donating to a worthy cause as they are donating their time to our organization!
All the best,