Well, we're back home after an exhausting first (half) day.
At least the logistics are fairly easy. We're staying at the Gateway Elks lodge (map), which is a short walk from the "Max" light rail station. From there it is a 13 minute ride to the convention center (CC), and $19.50 apiece bought us seven-day passes good for the entire transit system. As a bonus, there is a grocery store across the street.
I'm exhausted, though, because Louise has been insufferable since discovering that Choir and Worship were in direct conflict (and that choir also conflicted with our already too-few dinner/social options). It was really painful to watch her ruminating about this for most of a day -- it's been really, really hard on her. In the end, she decided she just could not do choir, even though she reported it here earlier as "non-negotiable." A tough choice, but she's been more upbeat since releasing that burden. I'm sure she'll have more to say about it herself later.
That meant that we did not need to be at the CC until a little before CLF in-gathering at 4:45 -- just long enough to get registered and make dinner plans for tonight with some friends we see only once a year -- at GA. (She happens to be a minister, and is moving from a congregation in California to an interim position in Virginia at the end of the month, so we had much to catch up on.) So far, so good, but we made it all the way to the CC stop on the Max before Louise realized that she had left our delegate credentials back at our bus. We briefly flirted with the idea of making the half-hour-plus round trip back home to get them, possibly being late to in-gathering, before we determined that we would not really need our delegate ribbons or voting cards for the opening celebration. Which just means we will have to be a bit early tomorrow to go through credentialing before Plenary-II begins at 8am.
Speaking of Plenary-II, roman numerals and all, the plenaries are so numbered all the way to Plenary-VIII, at the end of GA. Being of a certain age, neither of us can now get the tune of "I'm Henery the Eighth, I Am" [sic] out of our heads, substituting, of course, "Plenary" for Henery. Either the Herman's Hermits version, or, worse, the Alvin and the Chipmunks version. I'm hoping that, by the time Plenary the VIII is over and done, the inane tune will fade from my brain.
Also speaking of Plenary-II, that is when we will be indoctrinated into Open Space Technology (OST), which, it is hoped, will be a springboard to some productive outcomes at this GA. I'm trying to keep an Open MindTM, but I tend to approach these things with a certain amount of skepticism (having been through myriad meeting facilitation schemes in the past). For one thing, calling this method a "technology" is like calling a pencil and paper "note-taking technology" -- not factually wrong, but a bit overblown. Of more concern, though, is the fact that even proponents of OST advise against meeting structure involving schedules and blocks of time -- even meals are unscheduled. Yet we have a program involving very specific and fixed blocks of time for the OST activities, even overlapping with the more traditional GA sessions and workshops. I am eager to hear how we will be working around this as we have our OST introduction tomorrow morning.
The only other substantive thing I have to report tonight is that the Opening Celebration was pleasant, motivating, and generally on time. In addition to the usual festivities including the banner parade and the welcoming into the fold of new congregations, UUA president Bill Sinkford made an impassioned presentation of how GA outcomes do make a difference, highlighting several key advances through the decades involving race and gender equality, LGBT issues, and accessibility. As always, we are reminded that work still needs to be done on all those fronts, and especially in the areas of race, ethnicity, and full accessibility.
Oh, and lest I forget, the CLF business meeting took place at in-gathering, wherein the slate of nominees for officers was unanimously approved, as were last year's minutes.