Our district is now—officially—virtual. The mega-load of paper files has now been scanned. Outing is now online. We have paid the last rent check. And the team that made it happen has had a great celebratory lunch.
What’s next? The answer—in short—is to figure out how to give a digital “face” to our programming. In some instances this will mean adding new programming (like our Fall series of online workshops ADD LINK). More often, it will mean asking ourselves how we can use the occasion of a face-to-face gathering to capture material that we might share more broadly.
Increasingly, the congregations of our district have been challenging us to move away from the focus we have placed on large face-to-face events like District Assembly (or—implicitly—General Assembly). Lest our conference junkies get anxious here, nobody is suggesting that we do away from such events (heaven forbid). Rather, the congregations of the district are increasingly raising to us the question of the focus we have placed on such events which only serve directly a few hundred of the many thousands of UUs in the district and where much of the time and money of participants is spent on travel and lodging.
Moving towards putting much more content online is going to be a special challenge in this year that will be tight financially for the district as it is for many of our congregations. We plan to make a virtue of this by challenging ourselves to do this within the resource restraints of congregations. We plan to spend no more on this than what the average congregation in our district might be able to afford—between a few hundred and a couple thousand dollars. And since we will have no many to spare in the upcoming budget we have taken a little piece of money left in last year’s budget to buy a couple of electronic toys (digital voice recorder for $200-300 and a digital video recorder for about $400).
We are now busy playing with these toys and if you come to events this Fall you may get a chance to see them in action. We know that many of our congregations are now playing with similar toys and we look forward to this being a year for learning together what works and what does not. So, if you want to listen in on our work, I encourage you to come back to this blog.