10-13 September 2015
A small group of professional genealogists were invited to Alpena, Michigan. This was a retreat where we met as colleagues, or facebook friends but left as friends. This experience was the brain child of Billie Fogarty and Matt McCormack. There were twenty of us to take the leap of faith and venture from our homes to The Farm. Some called us the early adopters at the retreat. I think we were all curious what Matt and Billie were creating there and knew we wanted to be part of it. None of us wanted to miss being on the cutting edge of positive change within our industry! They purposely held it in a place where a group of genealogists wouldn’t get distracted. Why? So they could have our undivided attention! There were no archives or libraries to wander off to.
We spent this time together without computers. No lectures. No PowerPoints. We engaged in conversation from early each morning to well past dinner time each evening. Billie told us when she opened this retreat that there were no wrong answers. That we likely wouldn’t get to all the material in our binders (we didn’t) and that we might take a left turn at some point when a right was expected (we did). This was a safe place to speak about anything, to speak openly and honestly. There was LOTS of laughter, occasional anger and frustration with a few tears. At the end of each day there were friends encouraging each other to keep going. We are a passionate lot of friends!
We discussed a wide range of topics. Some of the topics discussed include money, communication with clients and colleagues and ethics among many other subjects. Ethics took up a bit of time as there was a lot of discussion around that subject!
We ate far too well during these short days together. Paul and Betsy fed us well. The nice part was that we all ate together. There was no rush to get to a restaurant. We had time to just share meals each day with friends. And the time around the fire pit was enjoyable each day as we wound down from the days discussions.
While at “The Farm” we met Butterbean, Florence and Mildred, all resident cats. All were a joy on a daily basis! And the wildlife that surrounds that special place is wonderful to view. I watched deer daily. We stopped one morning to watch an eagle.
They plan to do this again next year, August 25-28, 2016. If you are a professional who is passionate about our industry, you must be here. Or, if you are a professional who is burnt out, this will recharge your batteries like nothing else I’ve experienced. It was one of those amazing experiences. I’ll miss 2016 as I’m already booked for that weekend, but I’ll be back another year. It’s worth the effort to get here.
Remembering a few of the one line takeaways:
Build community not walls – Do good things – Perfection is the enemy of done!
Others who have recorded their thoughts: