Tuesday, June 23, 2015

My #CNMC15 Experience

It’s been a couple of weeks since the Catholic New Media Conference Celebration took place in Atlanta. This was my second CNMC, having attended my first in 2013 in Boston. Admittedly, I didn’t socialize or network much at my first CNMC, opting instead to hang out with the Catholic Weekend folks and missing most of the breakout sessions. This time, I vowed I was going to be a bit more social and interact more with others, as well as attend all the sessions.

Socializing does not come easy for me. I am very much an introvert, and I have to force myself to interact with others. What made it easier for me as far as the CNMC is concerned is that I’ve interacted with most of those I saw on social media, so meeting these people for me was like saying hello to old friends I haven’t seen for a while. It was a nice feeling.

My attendance at this year’s CNMC almost didn’t happen. Most of my family lives in San Diego, California. My nephew, Richie, graduated high school on June 2, and my other nephew, Jacob, was promoted from middle school to high school on June 3. Richie, who plays the trumpet with the San Diego Youth Symphony Orchestra, was going to play a concert with the SDYS the evening of June 6. And the CNMC was scheduled to begin early in the morning of June 7 on the other side of the country in Atlanta, Georgia. I was texting with Fr. Darryl Millette in late December about this, and wouldn’t you know it: he managed to find an overnight (“red-eye”) flight that would leave San Diego late enough for me to be able to attend Richie’s recital and get me to Atlanta early enough to be at the opening events of the 2015 CNMC. Without knowing what the agenda was, I went ahead and booked my airtickets that would include an extended layover in Atlanta. And I was glad I did that!

After rushing from Copley Symphony Hall to the car parked in a lot a 10 minute walk away, and despite a long cargo train holding up traffic on the way to the airport, I managed to make it to the gate shortly before my flight started boarding. A little over three hours after the plane took off, the wheels touched down in Atlanta more than 20 minutes early, which gave me 2.5 hours of time before the start of the CNMC. It was great seeing Marika; we had breakfast at the airport before we headed over to the Georgia International Convention Center.

Despite feeling like I was hit by a Mack truck, thanks to lack of sleep, it was great to see friends I had met at the previous CNMC, as well as to meet new friends I knew through social media but hadn’t met in person until then. And thanks to social media interactions, it didn’t feel like I was meeting a group of strangers. It felt like I was seeing old friends I hadn’t seen for a long time. I’m not sure how to describe the feeling; it was a similar kind of feeling I had when I met people in person for the first time in Boston but who I known and considered good/close friends for years through social media.

The talks were all very good, and I include in that very good group Fr. Cory’s excellent homily that he delivered at the Mass that morning. (He also used Eucharistic Prayer I, which is not heard very often at Masses in my area, so the Liturgy geek in me was silently cheering.) On a whim, I had set up a Tagboard the previous Friday with the hashtag #CNMC15, thinking that there would be a lot of people live-tweeting the talks and other social events, just like at the Boston CNMC. So I spent a lot of time live-tweeting all the talks. (By the way, if you want to hear all the talks, head over to the SQPN Store to order the CNMC 2015 Virtual Ticket. It’s a great deal at only US$49.00.) I was taking pictures and networking during the Mastermind Masterclasses (and Mac Barron had recorded his hilarious Catholic Mom video during this time), and doing my usual behind-the-scenes work during the live recording of Catholic Weekend with the full panel and special guest, Fr. Dave Dwyer of Busted Halo. And, of course, despite his not being able to be physically with us, Fr. Roderick recorded a most inspiring video keynote talk that included photo and video retrospectives of the last ten years of Catholic New Media. I’m sure that the information taken from these talks, as well as the inspiration and information exchanged during the Mastermind Masterclasses will bear fruit in the way of new collaborations, new projects, new blogs, new podcasts, new books… the possibilities are endless! (We’ve already heard some of that, thanks to Allison Gingras’ show, A Seeking Heart, when she spoke with Tiffany Walsh, JonMarc Grodi, and Maria Johnson as they summed up their CNMC experiences. Also: Pat Gohn’s Pick of the Week from Catholic Weekend episode 275 mentioned some podcasts that were inspired by past CNMCs, and I also add Daniel Smrokowski’s Special Chronicles podcast and Joanne Mercier’s Monday Morning Catholic to that list.)

Despite my very long day (and not having had much sleep since waking up at 8:30 am PDT the day before), I still felt like I had a lot of energy as I chatted with James and Ryan before meeting up with 14 other people (including Allison, Jennifer, Seth, Stephanie, Dee, Lisa and her family, and the very charming Sarah P., amongst others) for dinner at the airport. There were several people I hadn’t met before amongst that large group of people, but by the time we finished dinner, it felt like we were all good friends who were feeling sad that we were all going to leave each other, in a couple of cases, later that evening, and in most cases, the next morning or afternoon.

I’ve heard of the “post-CNMC blues” phenomenon, but I hadn’t experienced it until I went to Boston in 2013 and now Atlanta in 2015. It really is a thing: I really miss those I’ve met! I hope to meet you all again sometime in the future, whether it be at another CNMC or elsewhere.

In the meantime, I’ll continue my BTS thing with Catholic Weekend for as long as they’ll have me, and I’ll hopefully start blogging a little bit more regularly on this blog.

P.S.: I figured out how to put a Google Photos slideshow on this blog, but unfortunately, it requires Flash, so it will probably not be visible on mobile devices. But for what it's worth, it's there. I didn't take many pictures, and I may decide to add a few more pictures borrowed from friends in the future.

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