While running through the Philadelphia airport at a full sprint to make a connecting flight a couple of thoughts came to me…I hope I make my flight and this trip better be worth it. The trip to the 2013 Timber Framers Guild Conference in Burlington, VT of course was absolutely worth it; and, instead of quickly giving a recap of the conference like I usually do, I wanted to let my thoughts stew for a while before I put fingers to the keyboard, so thanks for waiting.
Towards the end of the conference on Saturday night at dinner I did something a bit odd. I found a seat in the corner of the dining hall and instead of joining others I sat alone and simply watched what was happening, classic people watching activity. What does it all mean; the Guild that is, was the question on my mind. While watching, I saw both serious and jovial conversations and everyone was having a good time talking with great passion. To see the different levels of engagement between old and new friends, both in serious and story telling discussions and to watch the energy between folks was eye opening.
The question of what the Guild is and what it does for the industry had been on my mind since the first event on Friday, the Guild member meeting. Mike Beganyi gave a great presentation on where the Guild is at, and where they are going. As with most other non-profits, its financial outlook is bleak, as membership has decreased since 2008. The Board of Directors has developed a great plan to attack this and is taking on some difficult decisions to continually improve the Guild. The good news is there will be a big push to get more projects, which means plenty of learning opportunities out there in the future. I think over the next couple of years we will see a revitalized and modernized Guild.[highlight]I encourage all to join.[/highlight]
While Mike’s talk was captivating the presentation that I got the most out of had nothing to do with timber framing. The TFBC sponsors a business track of presenters and the one that caught my eye was Deb Allen’s presentation on Generational Diversity, breaking down why and how the Traditional, Boomers, Gen X and the Millennial generations communicate and view the world. It taught me how to better communicate with my family, clients, and employees. More importantly it put in a new perspective, to me, that everyone is different and we will not always see eye to eye and that that is ok. Seeing things in a new light is always healthy and I will put what I learned to good use.
Speaking of healthy, I was able to get in a lot of walking seeing the sights of Burlington. It is such a beautiful city. I even took a few hours away from the conference on Saturday to walk throughout the city. Walking around, seeing that many old buildings in one place again and studying the details that hide in plain sight was awesome. The people, food and culture of Burlington certainly makes it a place that I will be visiting and sharing soon with my family.
As I continually go the conferences, the more long lasting and engaged my friendships with folks become and the more I grow in the industry. Some of these people I only see once a year and it was enlightening to sit all by myself on Saturday night and reflect that the one thing that brings us all together is a passion for the craft of timber framing. That thought was certainly worth a sprint at the airport.