From Where I Sit – Not the Best Diversion

As I write this the countdown clock on our website says it’s only twenty-six days, fourteen hours, and three minutes until the start of the second annual Babas and Borshch Ukrainian Festival. As Festival Coordinator the buck ultimately starts and stops with me.

In many ways I have a better grip on things this year having gone through the inaugural one last year. In other ways it’s like starting from square one. We’ve tweaked or eliminated the things that didn’t work particularly well last year. We’ve expanded those that did. We’ve added entirely new activities.

Running concurrently with that are all the behind-the-scenes organizational processes and systems that keep any active organization going. With not-for-profit status there is the constant need for fundraising. Sourcing sponsors and foundations, grant writing, and post-event reporting can be a fulltime job. And not for the faint of heart.

Taking time to draw accurate floor plans for the venues we use is short-term pain for long-term gain. How will we accommodate the retail vendors and educational exhibits without them? Likewise, the fair grounds. Where is the best place to put the beer garden, the food concessions, the bleachers, the music stage, and the bouncy structures for the kids?

Another area requiring time and attention is the creation of a bona fide volunteer recruitment, training, tracking, and appreciation program. Last year I hand-picked people I knew I could count on and worked non-stop myself. We did it, but this year things will be different.

Advertising and promotion is another area where the work is never done. When is posting or tweeting done? When can you stop sending press releases, schmoozing the media, doing radio interviews, and making TV appearances? It’s worked for us in the past so the strategy is if it ain’t broken, don’t fix it.

I cannot over-state how many details?large and small?there are to manage. Luckily that sort of challenge turns my crank. In my mind, any problem can be solved with a chart, a form, a spreadsheet, a mind map, a checklist, or a diagram. Oh, and a robust Rolodex of contacts who share the desire for win-win outcomes.

Now I just need to figure out a way to keep my home from turning into a warehouse. At this moment I see boxes of souvenir programs, floral supplies, a floor plan for tracking banquet ticket sales on a whiteboard, borrowed Ukrainian textiles, files, d├ęcor items, souvenirs, signage, and more.
This year I’ve gotten two companies to donate the use of enclosed utility trailers for the weekend. That should allow for more organized storage and transport of all the things we need to take to town.

Many things in my home, yard, and life are suffering because of this project. So, with all that on my plate and my mind is it any wonder I unwind at night with marathon watching of Breaking Bad and Orange is the New Black? Not the best (or worst) diversion out there, from where I sit.

Hazel Anaka’s first novel is Lucky Dog. Visit her website for more information or follow her on Twitter @anakawrites..

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