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Getting to Convergence

Right From The Start • Getting to Convergence

Information provided by Marcy Petrini

Reprinted from Shuttle Spindle & Dyepot magazine, issue 160

It is time for another Convergence Registration Book, which will elicit one of two types of responses:
   (1) excitement — so many choices that careful planning is needed;
   (2) “I can’t go — I can’t afford it” or “I can’t go — I don’t have the time.”

Granted, money and time are resources, and resources are never infinite. But sometimes the second kind of response is a knee-jerk reaction. Fiber enthusiasts who believe that “where there is a will, there is a way” have found many inventive and creative ways of getting to Convergence.

If you think you cannot afford to go to Convergence, draw up a budget so you know how far you are from being able to afford it; perhaps you will be able to raise funds between now and next summer, and maybe you will be able to think of ways to reduce costs. Here is a hypothetical budget:

  • Registration $330
  • Transportation $250
  • Housing $320
  • Food $150
For this Convergence, we can register for as many or as few options we want. In my budget, I have chosen the package [Convergence Value Package, CPV] plus one seminar and one studio, but obviously my costs could be lower. On the other hand, if there were something I really want to attend, I wouldn’t want to miss the opportunity.

Transportation costs can be reduced by car pooling. Even if the drive is a couple of days, I know of weavers who have driven straight through, taking turns driving and sleeping to avoid additional motel costs. Do break-even calculations by searching for the cheapest airline or train fare available, and then calculate the cost of driving, including meals. How many drivers would you need to make the trip more affordable than the alternatives? Sometimes airlines have cheaper fares if tickets are bought well in advance. Also spread out the cost of the trip: pay for registration now, buy a ticket in a couple of months, select a less expensive motel, and take some food from home.

Housing can be shared. At Convergence in Toronto, as no one from my guild was attending, I had no roommate. I found a fellow HGA Representative with the help of an HGA Board member, and my housing cost was reduced by half. Now, with the internet, finding someone to share a room is easier than ever. And three people in a room for a few days is an option a lot of people use to cut costs.

At Convergence in Denver, I reduced my housing costs to zero by staying with my sister. Of course, such a choice not always possible, and even if it is, be careful of this option. My sister lived downtown, so attending Convergence was easy. At another Convergence, I stayed with a friend, but she lived so far away that I felt my experience was compromised by my traveling so far back and forth. It would have been better to find more money and spend it on housing closer to the conference.

Food is an expense that can be controlled. At Convergence in Portland I ran into a volunteer while she was resting and having an apple. I remarked about her healthy snack and she told me it was lunch; she explained that she and her roommate decided they really wanted to attend Convergence and the easiest expense to cut was food. They decided on a modest meal a day and the rest of the time they ate apples. They also found that they could see exhibits when everybody else was eating. And, she added with a grin, “This is one trip where I won’t gain weight!”

One of the most creative solutions for raising money to attend Convergence came from a friend who had never attended and really didn’t want to miss another. So she wrote a family letter to her husband, two children and in-laws. The letter (see the sidebar) was so successful that not only was she was able to attend, but the rest of the family got so excited that they made Convergence their vacation destination. And for her birthday, her in-laws gave her “a nice present” she spent in the Vendor Hall!

  HGA's Convergence

Dear Ones:

Every year, for Christmas, my birthday, anniversary, and other holidays like Mother’s Day, you have been very generous and always given me gifts. I know it must be hard to think of what to get me, because I do have a lot of possessions already, and gifts tend to repeat themselves: I really don’t need a new set of pots and pans—I still have the ones I got three years ago and the ones from three years before that. I have a jewelry box full of fancy earrings and I don’t go to that many fancy places. And I have a cupboard full of nice, unused towels.

This holiday season, I decided to make it easy on you, saving you time from shopping and the aggravation of trying to figure out something new and different to get me: I have started the “Mom is going to Convergence Fund.” Any donation, no matter how small, will be gratefully accepted!

Now it’s your turn: make your budget, see where you can skimp and where you want to splurge based on the choices in the registration booklet, and other expenses. Can you save money between now and the conference? A friend found that she saved nearly $1,000 a year by not eating in the company cafeteria and bringing her lunch from home. She went outside when the weather permitted and sat on a bench and knitted or took a walk during her lunch time. Maybe your craft could be profitable: lots of guilds have holiday sales to which you may be able to contribute. If your guild does not, maybe you can start one. A soap-maker I know offers soap sets to her co-workers for sale — she makes some money, and they save on shopping time.

Another possible response is that of the weaver who says, “I can’t go to Convergence — I don’t have time.” Unlike money, where it is possible to skimp, stretch, and save, time is fixed. We all have only twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. How we use it determines how much we do of what we like to do. We set priorities whether we do it consciously or not.

It is easy to say, “I don’t have time.” I hear it constantly: “I don’t have time to weave,” or “I don’t have time to volunteer for my guild,” or “I don’t have time to go to Convergence.” I sometimes hear myself saying. “I don’t have time to dye.” I read once that “I don’t have time” is a little lie that we tell ourselves and others. At first it seemed outrageous. “Look at all I do,” I thought to myself; “I just can’t fit one more thing into my day. I don’t have time to dye.” But the truth is that dyeing is not a high priority for me at this time. Look at this article I am writing. I could have been dyeing. I am choosing this article.

You may think, “What’s the difference? It’s just a matter of semantics.” But it’s not. It’s a matter of taking responsibility for our decisions. But it is also freeing. I am no longer a victim of lack of time; I am in charge of my own future. Suddenly, not being a victim makes me think of ways that I may squeeze in a little dyeing. It makes me realize that my problem with dyeing is that it has to be done in big chunks of time when I am at the beck and call of the dyepot. If I am weaving or spinning or knitting, I can stop at my convenience and deal with the laundry. If I am stirring the dyepot outside on the burner, I may not be able leave it unattended. Now that I have analyzed the situation, I can figure out what to do: dye as part of my yearly demonstration for the Craftsmen’s Guild. I invite my fiber class, and we have a grand time.

It was with this attitude that my friend who was taking care of three small children while her husband had a rather inflexible work schedule found a way to go to Convergence: she and a guild member drove the children to her parents’ house halfway to Convergence. Her clever idea allowed her not only to get to Convergence, but to save money by sharing lodging and travel expenses; and she made it possible for another person to go who might not have been able to go otherwise. She also made her parents happy with a visit from their grandchildren for a few days. Use your creativity to find innovative solutions to time limitations.

Not playing the “lack of time” victim makes us realize what it is that we don’t want to do and not do it — as opposed to doing it out of guilt or feeling resentful that somebody talked us into doing it. We cannot create more time, but we can be more in control of the time we have by choosing our priorities carefully and admitting that we are choosing them. If there is a will, there is a way. What things can you re-organize, re-prioritize, or change so that you can get to Convergence if you really want to?

Marcy Petrini is a past president of the Handweavers Guild of America, Inc., and teaches weaving at the Mississippi Craft Center, sponsored by the Craftsmen’s Guild of Mississippi.

HGA's Convergence® conference is a biennial meeting of handweavers, handspinners, dyers, basketmakers, and other fiber enthusiasts from around the world.

©2009 Handweavers Guild of America, Inc.