washington dcThe palm sweat is starting to happen. Several times a day this week I have been getting prep e-mails about the Anti-Hunger policy conference in Washington DC this weekend. I see the e-mail and I feel a zing of pride and then total OMG. This is not going to be a blogging conference. This isn’t going to be a “let’s squeal and hug over recognizing each other from our twitter avatars” conference. This is a different building. I know this because at the end of every e-mail there is a reminder that attendees should dress accordingly for the conference. Business casual for the sessions and professionally attired for the meetings with congressional members and staff.

I am going to go out on a limb and guess that neither of those will allow for plaid boots.

What I keep reminding myself (to keep the balloon of panic from soaring into the ceiling fan) is that I am NOT a policy maker, I am not a politician, I am not attending this conference because it is my job. I am going because I have a story to tell and I think I can help other agencies learn about the amazing power of telling our personal truths on-line.

I was recently on a pre-conference conference call with the other attendees of my panel and I felt so quiet. I won’t be presenting a power point, I won’t have a graph. I just have what I learned and how I think things can get better.

That I am attending something so large without knowing a single other attendee is fluttery. Obviously I am outgoing, but I am much more calm (who isn’t?) when entering into a new situation with a friend or familiar. I’m trying to turn this into a teachable metaphor for me- a reminder. That night I filled out my application for assistance in Florida – I was alone. I had no idea what I was doing, if I would get help. It was a hard and complicated process. Repeating that process in two other states was also daunting. Wouldn’t it be amazing if I could help make that process smoother for someone else?

(but, seriously…wouldn’t it awesome if CJ Craig was there to hang with?)

Here is a description of my panel (it’s Monday morning so I will thankfully have Sunday sessions to ease into things):

The Missing Voice: Effective Strategies to Engage and Mobilize Clients in Advocacy

No social movement has succeeded without the participation and voice of those directly and personally impacted. Join us for this conversational session to learn about how to empower, organize, and mobilize our clients—the largely “missing voice” from anti-hunger advocacy. The panel will feature a storytelling expert, a client organizer, and a client advocate and will engage the audience in a discussion on how to sensitively engage, empower, and mobilize clients in advocacy.

{if you want to follow the conference on twitter the hashtag is: #hungerpc2012 }

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