After much deliberation and consideration the FARM Board has made the difficult decision to postpone our 2020 annual gathering until October 27 – 31, 2021 (Note that this is one week later than our currently scheduled 2021 conference.)
We’re grateful that our host hotel, the Crowne Plaza Grand Rapids Airport, has agreed to defer our contract for a year without incurring a financial penalty, so while we won’t be meeting in person this year, we look forward to seeing you in Grand Rapids, Michigan in the Fall of 2021. (Special thanks to Terry Bemis of Conference Direct, for helping us with these negotiations.) We are also grateful to Aengus Finan and the staff at FAI for helping us think through the issues and the logistics of postponing, and for the on-going work of finding ways to stay engaged and connected to our community.
MAKING THE DECISION
The FARM Board made this decision in consultation with Folk Alliance International (FAI), our parent organization, and the other regional Boards.
This decision has been both very difficult and very easy. The easy part was knowing that, in a global pandemic, the health and lives of our community must be the top priority. The difficult parts were more complicated: knowing that music and personal connections are vital to living well and that virtual presence cannot replace actual presence. That hopefulness is powerful, but that uncertainty – about when things will stabilize, if and when a vaccine might be widely available, when it will be safe to have large gatherings, and when foks will have the financial stability to spend money on a conference – can be daunting. That many of us look forward to the conference, and many work very hard in order to make it happen, and the longer we wait to postpone, in hopes of circumstances changing, the more work would be potentially wasted.
So little about the pandemic is under our control, but looking at lessons from historical pandemics, we know two things: that maintaining physical distancing measures are the most effective deterrent until a vaccine is available, and that the process of getting safely past this danger is a slow one, not measured in weeks, but in months or even years.
For those who have already registered, FARM is offering a number of refund options. Go to https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSeD5m3cWel–w4i5_SYzASlsfmUtivqjZSH2nMHlgBx-Xi_7A/viewform?usp=sf_link to submit indicate your wishes.
RESOURCES AND VIRTUAL EVENTS
FARM is working to be on the side of finding solutions and new ways for our community to support and connect with each other in this time of physical separation and beyond.
With that in mind we’ve created, FARM Virtual Connections (https://www.farmfolk.org/virtual-connections/). We are currently holding by-weekly peer group sessions and are actively working to bring more educational panels and workshops in the coming weeks.
We have also begun collecting links to resources; from financial help, to technical know-how, to stress management skills, and we’ll continue adding to this page. https://www.farmfolk.org/covid-19-relief-and-other-resources/
FARM also welcomes feedback from you: how can we help? What do you need from us? What can we do to keep our community, and our hope, alive and nurtured through this crisis? Be specific, if you can, because your ideas can help us take action. For now, you can send us feedback by email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Finally, we know what a strong and vibrant community the Folk Alliance Region Midwest is. While we miss being able to see (and hug and sing with) all of you, please take care of yourselves and stay connected – but at a safe distance!!