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Tarot Reflections

 May 15, 2003

ATA Conferences to Go!
ATA News

Info at a Glance

Concept: Conferences to Go are packaged "conferences," delivered right to your door via mail or the web.

The ATA is developing the Conference to Go concept, and is currently recruiting "speakers" for the first session. Once developed, the Conferences to Go will be offered to the general public, with discounted memberships for ATA members.


  The April 1st issue of Tarot Reflections carried this announcement: “Portland Conference Cancelled.”

This was one of the hardest decisions we have had to make, but the volatile world situation and uncertain economy have taken their toll ... and, sadly, we were unable to obtain the minimum number of conference registrants by our April 1st deadline.

We do have some good news, though. The ATA Board is proud to introduce the concept of “Conferences to Go.

In terms of providing a forum for meeting Tarot authors, artists, professionals, and enthusiasts, national conferences can be hard to beat. The workshops provide hands-on experience and great opportunities to interact with the brightest stars of the Tarot community. The banquets and costume parties offer good food and good fun (and even, on occasion, glimpses of James Wells in High Priestess drag).

At the same time, large regional and national conferences pose significant challenges. They're expensive to host ... and expensive to attend (especially by the time airfare, room charges, and meals are figured in!). Attending a conference also demands an investment of personal time (at least an entire weekend) -- and, of course, whenever a conference is scheduled, there will be some folks who simply can't attend.

When our members began telling us about their concerns with both travel and expenses, the ATA began investigating a number of alternatives to conventional conferences. One exciting alternative now in development is the "Conference To Go."

"Nothing can ever equal the energy and excitement of a live conference," says Mark McElroy, VP of Media for the ATA. "And we expect national and regional conferences, in one form or another, to always play a role in the Tarot community. That said, with members uncertain about the economy and travel, we decided it was time to come up with some alternatives to large conferences ... and the idea of the Conference To Go was born."

"Instead of you traveling to a conference, the Conference To Go travels to you," explains Valerie Sim, VP of Communications for the ATA. "The goal is to deliver the information, excitement, and even the interactivity of a conference directly to the attendee's door. Think of it as a way of getting all the benefits of a conference, without having to rearrange your schedule or travel ... and without having to eat a single serving of boneless chicken Marriott!"

The concept is simple: conference "speakers" create presentations in the form of articles, video segments, slide shows, or audio tapes. This material -- including information and exercises for both groups and individuals -- is combined in book or CD format and mailed to attendees (or made available for conference attendees to download from a web site). After reading or listening to the presentations, attendees can get together on conference calls or in online chat rooms for additional presentations, workshops, or Q&A with the presenters.

"It was important to us to preserve the spirit of interaction," says Janet Selman, VP of Education for the ATA. "So many people who work with Tarot live in small towns, or do so in isolation. Networking and meeting other Tarot enthusiasts is an important part of what a conference delivers. That's why we want every Conference To Go to include group activities and exercises, too. We want to encourage people who live near each other to get together in small regional groups, work through the exercises, and bring their shared experiences to the teleconferences and online chats."

Sandra Thompson, President of the ATA, agrees ... and notes another advantage of the Conference To Go package. "At almost every conference you attend, you're forced to choose between one workshop and another. Do you want to hear Mary Greer talk about her research into emotions and keywords ... or do you want to hear Rachel Pollack talk about the influences on the Shining Tribe Tarot? It's agony!" said Sandra Thomson, ATA Chairman. "With Conferences To Go, you get all the information from all the sessions. If your schedule won't allow you to attend the teleconferences or chat sessions, you'll be able to replay them at your convenience later on."

"We'll be exploring a number of technologies as we continue to develop the Conference To Go solution," McElroy notes. "We'll probably start small -- printed materials, a dedicated website, a teleconference, and an online chat. At the same time, we're also looking into using software like Microsoft NetMeeting to bring to the Tarot community the same kind of online conferencing that corporations have been using for years as an alternative to expensive travel."

McElroy estimates that the ATA will be able to offer the Conference to Go packages for less than the cost of a single night's hotel stay at a major conference. "For what attendees normally pay to sleep in one room for one night, we'll be able to provide a really exciting package. Attendees will get materials they can keep and refer to for years ... plus the opportunity to meet and chat with authors, artists, and other Tarot enthusiasts -- without the time and expense associated with travel. Best of all, people who would never be able to attend a large national conference will finally have an option they can enjoy and afford."

Speakers are now being recruited for the first Conference To Go, and the first package is expected to be available by mid-August. As with conventional conferences, attendance will be open to the general public ... with ATA members enjoying a members-only discount. "We'll keep everyone posted as our progress continues," promises Selman. "Watch for more announcements in Tarot Reflections and at"


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