There is a problem with a lot of conferences. Well, it’s not a problem with the conferences, but a problem with the population distribution of the United States. Once you get west of Kansas, there’s not a whole lot of people until you hit the highly populous states snuggled up to the Pacific. So if you hold a conference on the west coast, you alienate half the population, and if you hold it in the east you alienate tons of people on the west.
The Secular Student Alliance, which represents students all over the country, has realized this problem. In years past, it’s been hard for students in the west to get all the way over to Columbus Ohio. This year, the SSA has a solution: hold two conferences. The first will be in late June in Las Vegas. The other will be three weeks later in Columbus, as it has always been (I’ve been invited to yap at that one).
I emailed with Lyz Liddell, my old boss, about the events. This is not a matter of the SSA tossing a bone to the schools on the west coast. Lyz told me…
The big thing we’re focusing on is that now students on the west coast have a conference in their area (since both CFI and SSA have traditionally been on the eastern edge). And that it’s not like Columbus is the main conference and Vegas is a correlary – we’re envisioning two equally awesome events.
This is a pretty big financial commitment by the SSA, but it’s also a pretty big problem that could have a huge payoff in how effective the youth movement is over the next 4-5 years. I think it’s the right decision.