Friday, November 10, 2006

Leather Leadership Conference XI: The Recipe (and a Progress Report to the Community)

(Leather Life column published in Lavender Magazine, Issue #299, November 10, 2006)


The eleventh annual Leather Leadership Conference (hereinafter known as LLC XI) will be held in Minneapolis at the Hyatt Regency April 20-22, 2007. That’s now just five months away.

We will be ready. We will be so ready.

In my role as Chief Instigator of the Local Organizing Committee that is planning this conference, I want to tell the community what we’ve accomplished and what we’re planning—and how you can participate. Here’s the recipe we’re following to make this conference happen:

1. August, 2004 (two years and eight months in advance of the conference): Call first meeting to discuss feasibility of having a Leather Leadership Conference in Minnesota. Wonder if anyone will show up. Express delight that about 25 people show up, and they all bring talent, expertise and enthusiasm to the project.

2. Spend next five months researching and preparing a bid to the LLC National Board to convince them to award the 2007 conference to Minnesota. Submit bid in January, 2005.

3. April, 2005 (two years in advance): Meet with LLC National Board at LLC 9 in Phoenix to discuss Minnesota’s bid. Shortly thereafter, receive notification that Minnesota has been awarded the 2007 conference. Do happy dance, then get down to work.

4. Start putting together a conference budget, projecting income and expenses. Also start putting together a comprehensive project plan that lists all the steps and tasks necessary to present the best LLC yet.

5. Secure Hyatt Regency Minneapolis as host hotel. Negotiate special room rate of $129/night. Start planning logistics for hotel, air travel, ground transportation, catering, conference rooms, etc.

6. Determine conference theme, “The Art of Sharing Power . . . a work in progress,” that both addresses a need in the leather/BDSM/fetish community and draws on the rich art and cultural resources of the Twin Cities.

7. Determine graphic/branding treatment of conference theme. Design advertisements, postcards, posters, buttons, t-shirts, pins, and other promotional materials. Order 5,000 postcards. Distribute advertisements and postcards at leather events everywhere.

8. Set up conference website and Buzz Network (Yahoo! group/e-mail list) to keep people informed about LLC XI.

9. Book keynote speakers (quickly, before their schedules fill up). Choose speakers who will generate excitement and draw people to the conference: New York photographer/activist Barbara Nitke and International Mr. Leather 2003 John Pendal. Later add a third speaker, author Laura Antoniou.

10. Plan a Thursday-night pre-conference welcome reception featuring gourmet desserts. Plan three pre-conference workshops for Friday afternoon. Plan a Friday-night opening cabaret hosted by Patrick Scully.

11. Determine programming “tracks” or categories for presentations, tying them to the overall conference “The Art of Sharing Power” theme. Publicize tracks on e-mail lists, website and Buzz Network.

12. April, 2006 (twelve months in advance): At the conclusion of LLC X in New York City, announce that LLC XI will be held in Minneapolis. Pass out Minnesota stuff, including packages of Spam, to audience. Have LLC XI website go live the following day.

13. Set up registration procedures and make plans to integrate them into the website.

14. Order another 5,000 postcards.

15. August, 2006 (eight months in advance): Host weekend-long LLC National Board meeting at Hyatt Regency Minneapolis. Update them on our progress and show them a typical Minnesota event by having them be guests at the Dark Ages Faire Saturday evening.

16. Order yet another 5,000 postcards.

17. Send out Call for Presenters. Send e-mails to presenters at past LLCs, post announcements on various e-mail lists and groups including the LLCXI Buzz Network, and have presenter application available on the Buzz Network.

18. Open conference registration and publicize it. Encourage people to take advantage of the $90 early-bird rate.

19. Start raising money. Keep conference registration costs low and affordable by asking individuals, clubs, groups, organizations, events and businesses to become conference sponsors. Develop sponsorship packages in various amounts to facilitate this process.

20. Issue a call for volunteers for both before and during the conference.

That brings us to the present. This is where you become an invaluable part of this recipe. Here’s how you can participate in LLC XI:

21. Get in the know about LLC XI by visiting the LLC XI website (<>) and by joining the LLC Buzz Network (<>).

22. Register to attend the conference (<>). LLC is for you if you’re interested in community service, leadership, group dynamics or the history of the leather/BDSM/fetish community. If you’re a member of a club or organization, be sure your group has representatives attending the conference (perhaps you?).

23. Submit a proposal to be a presenter. The Call for Presentations is open until Nov. 15, so there’s still time. We’re especially looking for presenters from the Twin Cities and the midwest. (Start by taking a look at the programming tracks at <>.)

24. Become a conference sponsor. Individual and group/organization/business sponsorships are available at various levels. Contact <> for more information.

25. Become a conference volunteer. Help us present a great conference as we welcome visitors from across the country and around the world. A variety of volunteer positions are available, both before and during the conference. Contact <> for more information.