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exceeding expectation, altitude summit recap, oh my handmade goodness

This month I intended to let go of my expectations and comparisons so I could lift off for Altitude Summit feeling confident in myself and the story that lives under my skin. It worked! I flew to Los Angeles for a few days of talking and dreaming with Dyana Valentine on the beaches of Santa Monica and laughing in her kitchen while stirring up food to feed her genius. I spent my time soaking up the smells, sounds, and tastes of summer. Those days rooted me in all the things I believe in: community, kindness, creativity, gathering diverse stories around a table, sharing conversation, exploring the unknown, caring for each other, the luxury of simplicity. When the day came to head to Salt Lake City almost all my panic about speaking and being ‘good enough’ had left me. After the lushness of California I felt rich and abundant! That feeling carried me into meeting my roommates and long time internet collaborators- Arianne (the exceptionally brilliant mastermind behind Aeolidia) and Lauren (design mistress extraordinaire) who immediately felt like old friends…and by the end of the trip, like family.


exceeding expectation, altitude summit recap, oh my handmade goodness

All my confidence whomped out of me in a big cloud as we entered the lobby of the Grand America. I have never stayed in a 3 star hotel let alone a 5 star diamond hotel…the extravagance of everything, the over-the-top opulence, stunned me and left me breathless, feeling like a street kid. Not the breathlessness of being on the beach in LA watching dolphins leap beside surfers at sunrise but the “I do not belong here” kind of breathlessness that catches in your throat and makes you feel small. That feeling sucks. So while everything around me was outside of my comfort zone I focused on what I know best-finding the beauty in the person in front of me. This trick kept me from running away to do some art with the street kids of Salt Lake City…

exceeding expectation, altitude summit recap, oh my handmade goodness

The first night was easiest-we had our choice of intimate sponsored dinners so I of course, picked the one sponsor I knew Lauren of Umba Box, who was one of OMHG’s contributors in the long ago. I got to sit across from the lovely Sarah of CHILDish who I’ve wanted to meet since we started chatting year(s!) ago, and beside Lana who advertised in our Guide last year. After dinner I met up with my new friends and panel collaborators Mina, Emily, and Mariah then we all piled back to the hotel to stuff goodie bags and chat with Arianne and Lauren about our panel and take a few deep breaths.  The next morning I had no time to look around since we were the very first panel! I woke up and flew through getting dressed, registered, and ready to speak. I did not think about the epic size of the room-I looked at each beautiful face that walked in and breathed a bit easier. Then I read the flurry of tweets, comments, and messages from all of you that reminded me that my expectation of myself was to talk about why community is the only thing that really matters. At the end of our panel there was a line of people stretching into the hallway that hugged and thanked us for our presentation. For the rest of the event people pulled me aside to hug me and say that my words made them feel confident and energized about building their own community. That feeling? My definition of abundance. Praise makes me feel squinchy but knowing that I was able to share my love of community with so many diverse people felt amazing!

Image by Brooke Dennis

 

{photo credit: Brooke Dennis for Altitude Summit}

For the rest of the event I focused in on individual faces and having conversations with people one-on-one or in small groups, making connections with online friends I’ve always wanted to hug in real life (like Dannielle Cresp from Australia!), and following my own advice of starting with one. This was tricky because time at Alt is highly scheduled-there are panels, lunches, keynotes, followed by parties, all styled to the highest degree-no expense spared. Throughout all this I tried not to look around too much…at the marble bathroom, the $17 granola on the breakfast menu, the tally of howmuchitallcosts running in my head. I wanted to write you a post just about the beautiful connections I made, how the three classes I went to led by Amy Turn Sharp, Karen Walrond, and Matt + Julie of Tiger in A Jar blew my mind, or that I left the event with new friends for life-all of these things are true. I should probably just post all the gorgeous business cards I collected and leave it there (I will still do a few pretty posts so if you are looking just for the sparkle come back next month). But that isn’t the whole story and I have always been honest with you and myself in this space.

The excess and extravagance of the event left me wanting and feeling hungry. I haven’t stopped thinking about how a meal of rice cooked with love and shared with friends is a feast and a banquet of delicacies eaten in luxury can feel like famine. The affluence of Alt was so much sensory overload that at times it felt aggressive. I wanted to turn all the background off so I could just enjoy the people and our time together. I wanted more time to collaborate and more opportunities to connect. I wanted more calls to action that led us to work together. I wanted more sustainability and less styling and stuff. If most of the excess had been stripped away I would be home now raving about the event and feeling far less conflicted. After having time to decompress and look around at my simple, abundant life while looking back on the affluence of Alt these two questions keep nagging at me:

exceeding expectation, altitude summit recap, oh my handmade goodness

1. What is the difference between abundance & affluence?

Abundance makes me feel rich and able to share what I have while affluence makes me feel small and competitive. The moments of connection I felt with the beautiful people gathered at the event made me feel abundant. Wearing the gifts that were sent to me with love from this community made me feel rich beyond measure. Looking around at all the displays of wealth and status made me feel like there was something wrong with me for being upset by it instead of excited. It seemed like there was so much invested in dressing up the outside of the event that the real value of bringing so many creative people together was lost. Imagine if all that collective wealth had been focused on creating an event that fed back into the local community? Boutique hotels! Food sourced locally! Parties themed around connecting people with the resources they need! Collaborative art projects! Keynotes that reflect the diversity of our online space! Projects to collaborate on and send out into the world! Scheduled casual time where we meet and play! So much of the best kind of goodness was missed while we were being dazzled.

2. How do we separate what we desire from what we deserve? 

The one main question I took away from Alt is: do we deserve to have everything we desire? I know we cannot have too much of the things we deserve-a sustainable life, the love of family, friends, and community, work that has meaning, simple beauty, moments of connection…but I think we can become glutted with desire. Just like I don’t believe you can spoil a baby with too much love but you can hurt a child by substituting love with luxury. A gathering of people is the same. I think if Alt was less desire (sponsors, readers, luxury, things) and more about what we deeply deserve (creativity, connection, inspiration, support) that it could change the world of blogging and online creativity forever. Instead I was left feeling like there was potential for something extraordinary but what happened was mostly extravagant instead.  I wanted more Kinfolk style gatherings, more engagement with the speakers, more of the things that sustain us and less of what leaves us feeling hungry. The fact that the air in Salt Lake City was so polluted during our time there that we were warned not to go outside or, get this, breathe the air-drove the point home that while we may be able to have it all the costs are always higher then we intend.

So while I loved having the chance to speak on community and every single second of connecting with so many creative and lovely people, many of my fears about Alt were true. I did feel awkward and uncomfortable-not with the people like I had feared, but with the event itself. I did compare my insides to the outside that surrounded me and was left feeling wanting in a different way then I had imagined. But I also exceeded my own expectations about staying true to who I am, what I care most deeply about, and what I am capable of. Speaking was amazing and I can’t wait to do more! But you can bet I will be carefully thinking through the events I choose. Writing and publishing this post might be the worst career move ever but I can’t sit with this feeling and post a recap that glosses over my biggest takeaways.  And if I ever go back to Alt (though after pouring all this out I’m not holding my breath)? I’m planning on an art party with those street kids after all. I know I met a lot of awesome folks I could have convinced to come and join me!

This post might not meet your own expectations of me and I know I am pulling up all sorts of topics here that might not be as positive as our usual conversations. But how can I talk about the importance of knowing we are enough, or defining success on our own terms, or the ethics of entrepreneurship, and then not raise these questions? I know I sure don’t have the answers but if this decision keeps me on the fringes then I intend to be okay with that. I hope you’ll join me on the outside to have this conversation! This space might not be opulent, but it is open to you all.

I would like to turn this over to you now-have you ever felt like you were trying to squeeze your ethics into a place where you didn’t fit? How do you feel about abundance vs. affluence and desire vs. deserve? Did you attend Alt and feel the same-or are you coming away from the event with a totally different experience? I’ll meet you in the comments to talk it out!

Jessika Hepburn

about the author

Jessika Hepburn has written 505 posts on Oh My! Handmade Goodness. A cheerful activist and community matchmaker I delight in using my connection superpowers to bring makers and entrepreneurs together in ways that lift us all up. I believe in cooperation over competition, relentless good cheer as an act of rebellion, and the power of using our hands to craft a brilliant future. OMHG is part social enterprise, part grand experiment, and all goodness-so pull up a chair or pitch in a hand to join in creating our supportive community!
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  • http://www.bentica-lyons.blogspot.com Jessica

    This convention looks awesome! Wish I could’ve gone.

    • http://ohmyhandmade.com/members/ohmyhandmade/ Jessika Hepburn

      It was awesome! And intense! And eye-opening! There is always next year, I would love to know your thoughts if you make it there:)

  • http://www.rachelalison.com/ Rachel A

    “I think if Alt was less desire (sponsors, readers, luxury, things) and more about what we deeply deserve (creativity, connection, inspiration, support) that it could change the world of blogging and online creativity forever. ”

    That sentence. Right there. That’s why I’ve never gone to one of these conventions. I have yet to be convinced that one exists that is about community and collaboration rather than commercialization and ego. This isn’t to say that there aren’t individual speakers or attendees who don’t DESIRE community – you are clearly one of them. I just don’t think the forum exists yet.

    Jessika…new calling for you, perhaps? :-)

    • http://ohmyhandmade.com/members/ohmyhandmade/ Jessika Hepburn

      I am hugging you super hard right now Rachel! I’ve been wanting to connect with you about collaborating on a video for OMHG so I plan to follow up on that this week-truly the collaboration is what inspires me the most. I had hoped in my heart that my fears about Alt would be dismissed by it being more about the people than the products and while for me it was, it did not seem like that was the goal of the event. I would love to go on tour and do small events in people’s communities where we are supported AND of service to each other and our places at the same time. I promise you my brain is percolating like never before:) I can’t see myself ever undertaking an event of such a huge scope-I think it rapidly becomes more about raising money than the experience! Thank you so much for your comment-here is to hoping for more events that get to the heart of things!

  • http://dyanavalentine.com/ Dyana Valentine

    this is a stunning testimony to you being exactly who you are, right here, right now. all tender and delightful, sensitive to pollution of all kinds and hearty as stew. i love you, jessika and trust you.

    • http://ohmyhandmade.com/members/ohmyhandmade/ Jessika Hepburn

      I love you Dyana! Thank you for reminding me of what being great(er) really means & how feeding people is the heart of any work I want to pursue-starting with YOU! So much adoration flowing your way I am surprised the internet highway isn’t flooded with it.

  • http://www.threebysea.com nicole : three by sea

    I LOVE your honesty in this post! It revealed some of what I feared Alt would be- that whole shiny, polished, pulled together, dazzle that so many blogs give off, versus the real life Cinderella in her rags story that is often the reality.

    I also have a lot of concerns over the amount of corporate sponsorships at these types of conferences…hearing and reading about the Acme Co. Breakfast or the ABC Inc. Dance Party makes it feel like any authenticity is co-opted by the advertising bonanza.

    As far as what any of us deserve vs. what we desire, I think everyone is entitled to pursue whatever they desire. Desire is not a bad thing as long as you are honest with WHY you desire that particular thing. If the reasons you desire something are from an impure place or false beliefs, you will never be happy, as desire, TRUE desire, comes from the heart.

    • http://ohmyhandmade.com/members/ohmyhandmade/ Jessika Hepburn

      I love you Nicole! The advertising piece is one I have resisted my whole life…I volunteered for Adbusters in their early years & debated the ethics of art until the wee hours of the morning with folks of all kinds. Those conversations are the ones that kept hammering at me all week and that I needed to air. Creativity needs space to thrive and while sponsors are awesome and help many of us do the work we do, I would have preferred to see a lot less courtship and a lot more collaboration.

      I think our desires are tricky, fleeting, ephemeral things that change frequently, whereas what we deserve can serve as a framework for our lives. Indulging in desires? Yes! Immersing in them? That is where my warning flags go all crazy.

  • http://omiyage.ca Marisa

    My favourite part of this post was this “the luxury of simplicity.” Yes yes yes! This is what I’m now striving for in my life. Less busyness, less consumption, more stillness, more being. It doesn’t mean I don’t want a little glitter and fancy cake and to treat myself to something special every now and then, but it does mean I don’t want my life to only be icing.

    While I love the idea of Alt and other conferences – it is the exchange of knowledge that interests me – not the circus. Not the excess. When Alt rolls around, I get such an icky feeling in the pit of my stomach as I see tweet after tweet after blog post after blog post about shopping sprees and online classes about what to wear to Alt and everyone trying to one-up each other with the most elaborate business card and the snazziest shoes. I have no desire to go because I know it isn’t my cup of tea. But I know that for many others, it’s totally their’s (well, maybe their glass of champagne) and that’s okay!

    As for me, I’m all for the small gathering. I like a coven of clever minds around the communal table. I love when thoughts pour freely and every face has a different story and the only thing we want from each other is a good laugh and to enjoy the moment.

    • http://ohmyhandmade.com/members/ohmyhandmade/ Jessika Hepburn

      Marisa I am leaping up and down & freaking out with happiness over here! Your comment is soul food for me & fills up all the post-Alt empty places (our chat today helped with that too!).

      And this:

      “I like a coven of clever minds around the communal table. I love when thoughts pour freely and every face has a different story and the only thing we want from each other is a good laugh and to enjoy the moment.”

      is my whole philosophy for life, business, everything distilled perfectly. Thank you for affirming all that is good in the world-I want to feed you & Elias more often. Let’s make that happen!

  • http://1000threadsblog.com Laicie

    This is amazing — thank you SO much for your honesty!! I feel like there’s a deeper point there that a lot of us struggle with as bloggers… how do you reach past the surface and past so much perfection (and opulence… I can’t tell you how many times I’ve thought, ugh, if I just had more money/resources the amazing things I could do with my baby of a blog…) to get at the core and really connect. I struggle with that question every day in one way or another, and I’m sure had I been able to attend I would have felt a lot of the same things. But the connections are sooo important. Can we create a Kinfolk-style gathering?! (okay I’m actually half serious… just throwing it out there haha… because if it was happening, I would totally attend.)

    • http://ohmyhandmade.com/members/ohmyhandmade/ Jessika Hepburn

      Laicie I’m so willing to collaborate on smaller, intimate events that leave us all feeling full and connected to each other. I honestly thought there would be more of those moments/gatherings facilitated at Alt and was sad to see the beauty of simple glossed over. I think all of us could stand to have more conversations about what it means to consume and create on a steady diet of pretty-it looks lovely on the surface but there is no depth to it in the long run! Cheers to connection and pushing past the surface to the truth underneath <3

  • http://www.tiffanymoore.net/blog tiffany han

    Jessika, I am SO GLAD that you wrote this and I am SO GLAD that you are able to reach so many people with your message. Yes, ALT is fun and exciting and decadent and lovely. And YES there is such a bigger conversation that we could all be having.

    For me, it comes down to the “why” of what we’re all doing – why do we keep showing up, why are we all making blogs and creating and sharing our stuff. I think that if we can dig deeper into the why, all the hows will just fall into place.

    THANK YOU for writing this. It was DIVINE to meet you in person finally.

    • http://ohmyhandmade.com/members/ohmyhandmade/ Jessika Hepburn

      @Tiffany Such big hugs your way! Meeting you was beautiful and I can’t wait to dive deeper into knowing you. There were elements of Alt that were oh so lovely, I think if the scale of luxury had been scaled back they would have shone all the brighter, and helped create the space to talk more about the WHY and less about the WHAT/HOW. Let’s keep having that conversation together!

  • http://renatom.net rena

    all i can say is you are amazing. that’s all i ever say about you :)

    • http://ohmyhandmade.com/members/ohmyhandmade/ Jessika Hepburn

      Rena, funny that-I say the exact same thing about YOU! I want to gather around a big table and make things and talk talk talk with you soon:)

  • http://www.glutenfreetravelette.com Adina | Gluten Free Travelette

    Jessika, this is a lovely post and very much resonates with me. The opulence and the hype really are not for me and it would have been great to see more small events where we could make connections – like the roundtables. This was my first year at Alt, I went in without many expectations – thinking I wouldn’t even fit in. While there, I think I made a lot of conscious and subconscious decisions that made the experience work for me. Like recognizing that not all aspects of the summit were for me (like the parties and the accessorizing) and instead focused on the aspects that were a good fit. You could say that I curated my experience to focus on connecting with others, being inspired, and avoiding the opulence.

    • http://ohmyhandmade.com/members/ohmyhandmade/ Jessika Hepburn

      Oh my friends! I thought a few people would be willing to have this convo with me, the fact that so many of you are writing these deeply moving, thoughtful comments is more than I could have ever expected. I feel so much less like the odd girl out and more like I found a whole new level of connection here. THANK YOU from the very bottom of this big complicated heart of mine!

      @Adina, I love the idea of curating our conference experience! I wish we could have had less need to avoid the opulence & more places where comfort and connection were the theme. There were lots of elements of Alt that thrilled me and lots of places I felt I fit in, but throughout it all was the buzzing of toomuchtoomuch that I couldn’t edit it all out.

      @Colleen-thank you so much dear friend! I was anxious about writing this post because I feel a responsibility to make this a playful, safe, fun space and bringing the heavy here seemed like it could be letting lovely people like you down. I know you were so excited for me to go to Alt & I wanted to report back glorious things! But bigger then the responsibility to bring goodness to the world was the weight of needing to be honest above all. Thank you thank you thank you for this space to be truthful about my experience, it is the most lavish gift of all!

      @Ashley-I think it is so sad that what we crave most is connection (which is free) and yet pay so much for the opportunity to find it-I didn’t even get up on my bandstand about the accessibility of such events or how elitist they become of necessity when they have such a huge price tag attached. I know hosting events is expensive but there is a balance there that needs to be more fully explored. You shouldn’t have to break the bank to attend an event to boost your business! I will surely be feeling the costs of investing in going to Alt for a large part of the year!

      @Valerie no more waiting, this is the year we meet in person! I promise to put the gears in motion for a Canadian event, we need a place to gather and connect + show the awesome that is our beautiful country. This line from your comment: “It always feels like a family, not a competition, when we gather here.” is what I love most about our community-families might have their ups & downs but we keep moving forward and working it out together. It doesn’t have to be perfect-it just has to be ours! I see us gathering potluck style, great conversations around a harvest table, and oh so many hugs!

      @Rusty, thank you so much for your comment! I am thankful my thoughts connected with you where the slick/flashy ones did not-we are so lucky to have a genuinely supportive community here. We might not always agree but I’m ever humbled by our willingness to talk it out!

  • http://www.colleenattara.com colleen attara

    Jess, I am just so proud of you. I show up here daily because of your amazing way of connecting, listening and being genuine.

    The post you just wrote is exactly why you were asked to speak at Alt. You are brave and you lead by example. You are so very loved. And I think you are on the edge of a movement.

    Your post was beautifully written. Huge big hugs. xoxox

  • http://www.happypenguinpress.com Ashley

    This was the most honest thing I’ve ever read about one of these events. I’ve never been to Alt, but I have been to another event that was much smaller (but basically the same thing). I left it wishing for what you discussed: community and a sense of camaraderie and support. Of course, I spent a boatload too, so I haven’t done it since, even though I’ve yearned for the connections that I wasn’t able to make.

  • http://www.roseflash.ca/ Valerie

    «This post might not meet your own expectations of me…» Quite the contrary I must claim and shout!

    The blogosphere is so much more than glitter, popularity, best design and snazzy looks! It should be about content and community, always.

    Please always share your thoughts Jessika, you are one of the few bloggers that brings the best in your audience instead of raving about their life and choices. It always feels like a family, not a competition, when we gather here.

    So.. when can we expect a fulfilling OMHG gathering in Canada? I would be the first to sign up ;)

  • http://www.rustyrambles.com rusty {rambles}

    Wow. I’ve been glued to every word of this post. I’ve felt pretty distant from all the dialogue around Alt, the love of the slick and flashy. Felt so reassured to read your words and people’s comments. A genuine community, that supports, encourages and inspires. I’ll be looking out for your Alt-ernative summit!

  • http://nisseworks.com Stacey

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts, Jessika – I’d much rather see the honest, bare-bones truth about your experiences than a post that kind of glossed over things and made an event seem more than it really was.

    Way back in my university days, I attended conferences a few times a year as a student journalist. The conferences I remember best – both for fun and network-building, as well as education – were the ones where the organizers put their energy into finding the best speakers, setting aside time for face-to-face interation and encouraged people to just relax. And I think that’s important – the event itself is what the focus should be on, not the experience surrounding it.

    I often wonder about what goes into creating events like these, where there’s so much show on the outside and it distracts from the purpose of the event and the community-building… do the organizers realize that’s what’s happening, or do they just want to keep adding more and more *stuff* because that’s what they believe the people want and expect?

    The seeds of support and community can’t be planted within the attendees if they’re too distracted and overwhelmed by the surroundings and the expectations of the event… I’d much rather attend an event that was a group of people, sitting around a room in comfy chairs, talking to each other, about their ideas, sharing. I don’t have the time or energy to be worrying about what others think or what I should wear to fit into the expectations.

    Sorry, that got a little long – but thanks for posting this Jessika :) Great words as always.

    • http://ohmyhandmade.com/members/ohmyhandmade/ Jessika Hepburn

      @Stacey, SO many great points! I’ve been part of many conferences relating to youth/community/creativity & you are so right the best events are always the ones where the value comes from the participants/speakers not the set up or styling. I had a lot of those questions floating in my mind too-especially since the event organizers all seemed to be down to earth people but they were so busy they were not accessible. I think often the first/second year of an event are where things are really fun and fresh-after that it does seem like organizers start piling on more to “out do” the years before without realizing it isn’t how many bells and whistles you put on something that make it great-it is the blank page you start out with! Let’s make a date to pull up our comfy chairs and have that talk with each other-I would love to just sit and talk with you!

      @Alison, I am beyond happy to get this comment! I felt that I would be letting people like you who were so excited for me to go down by sharing this post because it wasn’t all excitement & sparkles. I know that getting the chance to get on that stage was something so many people are envious of & I felt that way last year when I watched all the tweets (while being sicker than I had ever been before!)-funny how after going I can see even more clearly how rich I am in this spot right here. The one thing we have in abundance here is connection-watching the collaborations unfold because we have a space to meet up is what inspires me every day to keep going. I have loved watching your business & blog grow and love knowing that our community has helped that evolution! We are so close-come visit me in Lunenburg at our new house with your little one and have tea!

  • http://www.thepetitcadeau.com Alison (The Petit Cadeau Blog)

    Jessika – this post has totally taken me by surprise, but not in a bad way!

    1. I feel that I have learned MORE about you as a person in the few posts you have shared pre and post ALT than any other online interactions with you. They truly get to the CORE of you.

    2. I was SO excited for you to go to ALT (if you couldn’t tell from all my tweets!) it just seemed like such a fun and exciting experience and a chance to share the awesomeness of OMHG with other creatives.

    3. This post has left me with a realization of my own. Amid all the hype of ALT all over the blogosphere for months it seems like “everyone and their dog” goes to this event. After reading your post, I’ve realized that I’m left with a feeling about the event that I don’t necessarily like. ENVY. I somehow just realized it.

    This is why I am a part of the OMHG community and why I love it. It’s REAL. It’s from the heart. I can’t even begin to tell you the number of people I’ve collaborated with (and am currently collaborating with) that I met here on OMHG

    Keep doing what you’re doing girl – we’re with you!

    p.s. I second Valerie. Sign me up for some warm, fuzzy community building!

  • http://luluthebaker.blogspot.com Melissa

    Jessika, this post is brutal and breath-taking! I left Alt on Sunday morning feeling sad and discouraged instead of inspired and uplifted. I think I let myself get sucked into the glitz and glam and the constant “I’m not enough” feeling, when I should have spent my time sitting quietly and chatting with real people who do amazing things. The best memories I have from last week are all centered around meeting wonderful, honest women, and I wish I had focused on that. I think if I had, I would have left feeling renewed, excited, and full of purpose.

    PS–I met you very briefly on Friday morning (near the giant swan boat, lol!), and it was a dream!

    • http://ohmyhandmade.com/members/ohmyhandmade/ Jessika Hepburn

      @Melissa, oh love now I feel awful for not spending more time connecting with you! I wanted to focus on you when we met beside the giant swan (and if that isn’t an expression of decadence I have no idea what is!) and I don’t remember how our conversation ended. Boo! I wish you had left feeling renewed/excited and full of purpose too, I just went and visited your lovely site and it looks like you put a lot of time and effort into preparing and planning to attend. Isn’t it the worst when we pour ourselves into something and don’t feel filled up by it? I wish we had spent time quietly chatting and having tea and being just perfectly enough together. A big long distance hug is heading your way!

  • Amy Quarry

    YOU. ARE. AMAZING. I love this post, and I can relate to that feeling. I am so thrilled you keep speaking your truth – its inspiring to all of use. Big love to you friend. I agree with Valerie too! xox

    • http://ohmyhandmade.com/members/ohmyhandmade/ Jessika Hepburn

      @AMY! You and I need to talk asap-small town love is exactly the antidote I need to balance out my week of big city madness! You + me + the phone next week please:)

  • http://Www.TrashN2Tees.com Jenelle

    Jessika, posts like this need to be written. They are full of wisdom and heart. I’m so proud of you for pushing the boundaries and lacing up your boot for new adventures! I’m proud of you for knowing who you are and recognizing who you are not. In a room of the worlds best-est bloggers and biz woman I might not recognize any of them but would connect with you knowing you stood there glowing gracefully with your smile, purple ray bans, and great shoes!

    • http://ohmyhandmade.com/members/ohmyhandmade/ Jessika Hepburn

      @Jenelle, you’ve made my life so awesome ever since we first connected! I think knowing you and meeting in person was the moment when my world view totally shifted from hoping OMHG was a community where we could make lifelong friends and KNOWING this was a place where we could change everything for each other. Your belief in me makes my heart sing! The only terrible thing about this connection is not having you be my neighbour & having our kids play together in the back yard. I don’t need a fancy hotel room but I do need friends like you in my life!

      @Lindsey- I’m with you on loving fun & glam & glitter! I do definitely prefer my glitterfests with a side of campy though-like we are playing and indulging in it and can go way over the top with silly, ballroom dresses and combat boots! While there were some awesome elements of that at Alt overall the glam took itself pretty darn seriously and so it stops being as fun. I think if the overall focus was on the connection and the glittery moments were the play part instead of the focus for the event everything would have felt different. This point really resonates with me the most: “Maybe something Alt can strive for is a better blending of the two–keep the fun & glam, but tone it down a notch & welcome a more humble ground so everyone can feel the true meaning of blogging, entrepreneurship–just networking in a more wholesome way that inspires people in such a way they leave wanting to help everyone & not just themselves.”

      Yes keep the fun and glam, of course! But tempering it with being of service to others and our own creativity + making a space for us to explore those ideas would take the event from surface to substance. I am really excited you took those key pieces away from our panel and that you took the time to come! I hope we can find more ways to connect & collaborate this year:)

  • http://www.kandisebrown.com Kandise

    Jessika! This is such a great and honest post… frankly the only one I’ve read about Alt that truly seems authentic. I think you’re on to something.

    • http://ohmyhandmade.com/members/ohmyhandmade/ Jessika Hepburn

      @Kandise, thank you!!! Since we actually live in the same time zone I would love to connect and collaborate with you:)

  • http://www.lindseybee.com LindseyBee

    I truly enjoyed reading this post–I’ve been overwhelmed by my experience from Alt last week–I must admit that I do enjoy the fun/glam/glitter! It makes the event fun, & one of the reasons I wanted to experience it–I wanted to let loose, have one girly-girl of a time when I would not have anywhere else. So, That part lived up to my expectations & was super fun & I loved it.

    With that said, I do agree that it can come across like that’s the Only reason people attend Alt–like you’re name-dropping everything & just wanting to be a part of an event b/c of popularity, desire, all things that don’t truly equate to creating a great blog with great content creating a great community.

    Maybe something Alt can strive for is a better blending of the two–keep the fun & glam, but tone it down a notch & welcome a more humble ground so everyone can feel the true meaning of blogging, entrepreneurship–just networking in a more wholesome way that inspires people in such a way they leave wanting to help everyone & not just themselvs.

    That’s one of the main points I gladly remember from your talk–creating community, being genuine, less you, more them. & I truly believe an event can have everything Alt is plus (& maybe a few minuses) everything you hoped it would have had! Thanks for opening your heart so we can all realize these special points together–it’s great to collaborate & get your thoughts rolling in great directions :)

  • http://www.iamthelab.com Brett Torrey

    Jessica, one word: BRAVO! So glad to hear your honest assessment of Alt. One of my online mentors and I have had long conversations about these kind of conferences. I have been dubious of them and wonder if it is worth the effort and time.

    I am so glad you went because it instantly raised the level of honesty and integrity.

    I really feel like there is an event that hasn’t happened yet and that needs to be done. An event for those of us who are People of the Earth, as I like to call us. I am a confident man, but I know that being in that environment, where the diversity isn’t that strong but the opulence is ever so present, would make my sensitive & intuitive heart melt.

    We need an alt to Alt. Let’s do this. Let’s do it for the little bloggers who just want to know how to raise their voice. Let’s do it for the handmakers who want to grow while keeping their soul. Let’s do it for the artists who want to love what they do and love why they do it. Let’s do it intimate, sustainable and sincere. Let’s do this.

    I want to be in a space where the artist I feature would feel at home and equal. Don’t squeeze your ethics into a tiny box. Put them in an open space where you never have to compromise your heart & soul.

    There is nothing wrong with a little opulence when it is wrapped in a space full of real people who know that opulence is a treat, not a lifestyle.

    • http://ohmyhandmade.com/members/ohmyhandmade/ Jessika Hepburn

      @Brett- I so cherish knowing you! Can you hear my amen all the way in Hawaii? “There is nothing wrong with a little opulence when it is wrapped in a space full of real people who know that opulence is a treat, not a lifestyle.” that is the distinction! I would love to plan an event with you where the people gathered & the world around us & the magic we make with our hands is the focus of everything. I’m going to be sending you a big email soon!

      Also met another lovely man, Gabriel http://www.theartfuldesperado.com/ who you would love:) I am going to wrangle him into joining our community of goodness, we need more awesome guys around here!

  • http://www.deepspacesparkle.com Patty Palmer

    Jessika,
    You just might be my favorite blogger now. You made some pretty brave statements and I love it!
    I’m a bit ahead of you as far as conferences go. I don’t have much interest in the hype anymore, but because of you, I have found a new opportunity to rejuvenate myself: I’m attending SPARK in Taos in April.
    “Creativity, connection, inspiration, support…” Great words!

  • http://Moxiepear.com Moxie Lisa

    Wow Jessica, you have just just written everything I have thought about this particular convention. When I see more posts on twitter about what you are wearing vs what you are excited to learn, it just seems like a waste to me. I think it has just gotten way over hyped and I love all of your thoughts on paying attention to the event and not all of the sparkly outside stuff. The connections and knowledge should be the most important things.

    You know when it’s time for an OMHG getaway, I will be there with bells of helping to plan it because I will come to your kind of convention any day, any time. :)

  • http://www.thelanguidlion.com Geri

    Jess… three words: wise, brave, beautiful. That’s you.

  • http://www.mychildish.com Sarah

    Jessika it was wonderful meeting you in person! You are in person exactly who you are online, it didn’t feel like we were meeting for the first time at all. I was thrilled that we sat across from each other, I went to that dinner not knowing what to expect!

    Conferences big and small are overwhelming, I knew going into it that I just wanted to take away a bit of new knowledge and a couple of new friends and I did just that.

    I did find that it was very polished and brand heavy. But, to me that is a cultural difference between Canada and the US. If Alt were in Canada it would be different, hard to say exactly how, but it would be slightly different.

    My issue with Alt is that my post Alt life isn’t as glamorous as my Alt life. Which is OK, but it sure felt like a hard landing once I got home…

  • http://www.storyofmum.com Pippa

    Your integrity and openness, vital acknowledgement of the dark and the light and the path you walk through that, your faith in people and the power of community above all. YES.

  • http://aeolidia.com Arianne Foulks

    You got all my thoughts in person, but I will say that the best parts of the conference for me happened in our hotel room and on the hallway couches or at lunch, etc. So, get the right people together and we can do that anywhere! Though I definitely found the keynote talks to be …stimulating!

  • jessica

    can i get an “amen!?”
    wonderful and refreshing post Jessika!
    i have always avoided these sorts of events because they strike me as…to be candid…self congratulatory.
    you hit the nail on the head in your post & i am grateful you exposed your conflicted feelings. we are entrepreneurs, and as bloggers our success comes from grassroots beginnings and community with collective conscience.
    i LOVE the boutique hotel and local catering/restaurant idea!
    i also cringe a bit also about these conferences because of the hype leading to them, and the resulting posts. the posts leading to it talk about wardrobe (not content / ethos), and the subsequent blog posts are about fabulousness and can feel disingenuous. they fly in the face of what blogging and our online community is about (an alternative to corporate funded magazines, brands, or retail…direct handmade goods, inspiration, or editorial created from genuine passion). where is the humility that got us all started, as well as giving back to the collective hole?
    Brett’s idea is a wonderful start and taps the concept of community. i also agree there is nothing wrong with opulence…but the posts and tweets on these summits can lack humility (a “we have arrived” or cliquish undertone). there unfortunately a resulting feel of entitlement in them.

  • Sarah

    Okay, so I couldn’t wait to read until my train ride tomorrow ;)

    I love so many things about this post and about your Alt experience. I love that you took a few days ahead of time for yourself to fill up and rejuvenate and be ready. That’s brilliant. I love that you rocked the community building panel (there was no doubt that you would!) and that you found ways to make the simple connections that are most important to you DESPITE the excess and glitter surrounding you.

    Also: ever since you tweeted about desire vs deserve, I’ve been mulling it over. I think this distinction is huge, and along with “need vs want”, I’m adding it to my list of questions to ask myself when faced with a decision.

    Thank you for sharing your real thoughts on Alt – your integrity and your willingness to step up and share your truth are what keep me (and many others, I’m sure) coming back to OMHG.

  • http://www.urbanbirdandco.etsy.com Courtney

    I didn’t go to Alt, but just watching all the tweets leading up to Alt were stressing me out. Everyone talking about their outfits and beautiful bags and accessories, etc. I felt as if I would never fit in because my hair just WILL NOT go into a top knot. Or if I ever did go to Alt, I feel like I’d obsess about what I was wearing, how I looked instead of focusing on the content/community I was paying for. So I can fully appreciate your feelings in this post, Jessika!

  • http://www.girlfriday.ca Anile | Girlfriday

    Oh my golly. First, Jess you are amazing. I hope the comments here do nothing but affirm that for you. Second, I hope you are feeling ok now that this post is out there – you must have been very stressed while putting this post together, but I must admit I was hoping for this totally honest recap from you. L.A. sounds like it was an amazing experience, and Alt, too, sounded amazing – but also tough and overwhelming. I’ve never had the chance to attend a conference (I want to, but budget just doesn’t allow) but I can just imagine the supreme energy it took to put yourself out there while you were being overwhelmed by so many sensory elements. I can appreciate how this kind of event is really inspiring and motivating for a lot of people (at least, their blog posts say so) but like everything else in life, it’s not for everyone. I get how the promotional machine works – how the event would be even more expensive if this and that company weren’t sponsoring so many aspects of it – but perhaps that’s just an indication that it’s gotten too big, or maybe just that it’s not suited for some. I’m so proud of you for presenting, for putting yourself out there and making connections and inspiring people (those are your specialties, after all :) I’m so glad you got to meet some great people. I’m with Marisa about the luxury of simplicity and the appeal of small events – I would be really interested to see you create a series for exactly the motivations and inspirations that keep us all coming back here! Good for you Jess :) xoxo

  • http://nottene.net kim

    I’ve been thinking about this post for a while now to try and figure out what I think about your point of view. I hope you can tell I respect it and appreciate it. Please excuse if my thoughts get rambly:

    I feel like the point of going somewhere out of your comfort zone is to challenge yourself, if 5 star hotels are intimidating it’s good to deal with that because life is full of all kinds of things that are intimidating and the best thing we can do for ourselves is to learn how to deal with a bit of intimidation mindfully.

    As for how over the top Alt can feel, one of the things that I really like about that is that I spend lots of time making great experiences and work for other people and it feels so good to have someone make things for me.

    And in regards to enjoying the simple experiences and making space for the one on one connections, I think that Is the part we have to do on our own, as ever. I mean, I feel like the opportunity is always there to make those things happen, but what is good about all the panels and activities is for those of us who are shy and not very good at making those things happen on our own necessarily is that there is a structure that allows for meetings and interactions to be formed through the program.

    I love your post and it really made me think about my experience at Alt a little more consciously and for that (and for getting me on twitter!) I am grateful lady!

  • http://www.TameraBeardsley.com Tamera

    First off my dear, you were absolutely my favorite speaker at ALT! Not only was it your love of community…and staring with one….but your questioning….are you good enough….that struck such a cord with me…. I think so many of us if honest….and have never been to AL ..were asking….for different reasons…each tapping into our own insecurities. Mine were different than yours… but we all have them….and you spoke honestly and eloquently… a true voice.

    My dear, never underestimate the value of your true self…your mission…is truly an inspiration. Sending you much love and admiration!!!

  • http://designmom.com Gabrielle – Design Mom

    As a founder and organizer of Alt, I was super happy to hear about the connections you made with individuals, inspiring sessions you attended, and the sense of affirmation and gratitude you felt from others throughout and after your presentation. And of course, disheartened reading some of your negative experiences–that you felt “I don’t belong here.” made me gasp! and wonder whether we may have missed the mark on some big areas.

    We have tried to craft Alt into a conference that allows lots of engagement, and opportunities to meet with and mingle/collaborate, etc. with our online community. I love that at least that part seemed to have worked. In the end, Alt is a forum for people to meet and talk with each other. We know we can’t be all things to all people, but your articulation of the ideal conference sounds a lot like my ideal: simple, personal, abundant rather than affluent, meaningful, practical, real, etc.

    Putting together a conference like Alt involves coordinating a lot of moving parts, and while we strive to structure time and space in a way that promotes the most fruitful conversations, for sure we fall short or miss the mark lots of times. But we are trying to improve, and we take feedback from participants so very very seriously. So, while you might not expect it from me: thank you for your frank feedback. Though some of your criticisms were a bitter pill to swallow, maybe part of the reason it’s bitter is that I resonate with many of your sentiments. I recognize they come from a genuine place, and I feel motivated to work to make this conference everything it can be for this community I love.

    • http://ohmyhandmade.com/members/ohmyhandmade/ Jessika Hepburn

      Hi Gabrielle! Your words mean so much to me I can’t even begin to express it! Your comment was the very first thing I read this morning and it got all my gears going again. I want to thank you so deeply for taking the time to share your perspective as an organizer/founder of Alt. I promise I intend/ed to write you an email with ideas and my thoughts after I had a chance to clear my mind-I wasn’t just going to post this out to the world and then not be constructive directly with you! I honestly never expected such a positive response or so many people who had similar experiences. I will follow up via email but I want to express that I am available at any time to talk about possibilities for aligning community values/simple luxuries with the conference. I definitely didn’t write this post to be self-serving and start my own event to compete with you-the very thought overwhelms me! I think that the potential at Alt is palpable and it felt to me that you had all the right ingredients there-the proportions were just off.

      I’ve been thinking a lot about the divide I felt between the sense I have gotten from you over years of following you and way Alt felt to me. Your site, your Olive Us show + your writings on parenting have always inspired me to celebrate beauty in simple pleasures and moments. These are the same lessons I’ve learned from Amy Turn Sharp & Karen Walrond who I adore so much! While I expected a certain level of the glam/glitz at Alt and was even looking forward to it, I was overwhelmed by the barrage. I had my own expectations of Alt, everyone does, and as an organizer it must be exceptionally hard to balance those expectations, the demands of sponsors, expenses, and your own internal compass at the same time.

      Thank you again for reading, listening, and having this conversation with us! My words come from a place of wanting to see us do amazing things together in community and to leave feeling like we are part of something meaningful. I think if the Alt focused in on that place as the priority it would make a profound impact on the event, our businesses, and our communities. Also-I would have loved to see you up there as a keynote, you were always buzzing around but we never really got to hear your why, why you gathered us, what you hoped for us to accomplish together, or your vision for the event. I would love to see a pared back Alt-stripped down to the essential awesome where we are tasked to cultivate beauty and our businesses in smaller more meaningful ways. I am here and oh so willing to do that work together!

  • http://www.pastpresentperfect.com Christine

    Thank you for opening up and being so honest with us. You are truly a beautiful and gifted woman!

    It almost sounds like you should plan an event like you suggest… one that supports and gives back to the local community. That would be awesome!

  • http://www.colleenattara.com colleen attara

    I so love the honesty and tone to this conversation. It is so very real.

    Gabrielle, what a wonderful and heartfelt response. Once again, this space makes me hold my breath and pause.

  • http://www.joyfulroots.com Kimberly

    And this, Jessika, is exactly why we love you!

    I’m sort of still soaking it all in….speechless. Everything…everything of what you said about abundance vs. affluence and desire vs. deserve rings so true.

    Hearing your words has made me even more sure that I have found a place that feels like home in OMHG – a place that aligns with so many of my beliefs and a place full of genuine, amazing support and friendship.

    And even with all that, it’s so fun to see the positive side of what you experienced at ALT…the community you did experience, the wonderful people you met, and the connections you made. I am looking forward to hearing more and seeing those beautiful business cards.

    Thank you for your honesty, Jessika. You make our hearts sing!

    • http://ohmyhandmade.com/members/ohmyhandmade/ Jessika Hepburn

      @Kimberly-you make my heart sing too! I love how easily you lept into our community and how quickly you were welcomed in. Magic making! I am so glad you found us and have joined our big happy family! Don’t worry those pretty posts will be coming too:)

      @Tania-Thank you love, your presence in my life is such a gift! Our experience at Spark was all the things that felt lacking at Alt-the quiet moments spent soaking up another person’s brilliance and radiating it back to them. I can only imagine how difficult that would be to facilitate on a large scale like Alt but I know that it is possible if keywords like “creativity, community, communication, and connection” are used as the guiding focus! I agree that opulence can be fun, but also that fun can have a cost-if we don’t think about those hidden costs we often miss the significance of them as well.

      @Leslie-can’t wait to reply to your email! Just a whole bunch of comments to reply to first:) Even though we didn’t get to meet at Alt I am so happy to have a chance to connect here!

      @Mariah, I am so glad we were on a panel together and that we got to meet because of it! I would love to collaborate with you and spend more time building on the connection we made in SLC. Fun + gorgeous + over the top is good…in doses & tempered with the simple things that sustain us!

  • http://www.manusmade.com Tania Wojciechowski

    Oh Jessika. Once again, you have spoken from your heart and it’s beautiful. Even in criticism, you have such compassion and hope and optimism. I can completely feel how overwhelming it was, and disappointing as well. How wonderful that you spent the time to acknowledge what that disappointment truly was – not simply your feeling overhwhelmed by the opulence, but recognizing it was something deeper – of what could have been there instead. There is potential for alt, and by all the comments here, there is a desire, in fact a need, for a bigger event such as you describe. One filled with creativity, community, communication, and connection. The opulence can be fun, but the real reasons for the event must be more apparent.

    Love you for sharing this, beautiful. xoxo

  • http://lesliefandrich.com/ Leslie

    Amazing point of view, I’m so sorry we didn’t meet. I feel like I have some similar take aways, but wow, you articulate them so well. Thanks for writing this. I was affected by the “toxic fog” and lost my voice for the entire time! It was ironic, since I was there to talk and meet people. I’m going to email you about this, I have some thoughts about it and I’m looking forward to getting to know you and your site better!

  • http://www.ohwhatlove.com/blog Mariah | Oh, What Love Studios

    Jessika – you put this so beautifully!

    While Alt was fun + gorgeous + over the top, I sort of left feeling a little bit empty, and after reading your post I totally understand why. Thanks for finding the words I couldn’t find.

    It was so lovely to speak on a panel with you, and I hope we can work together on a project in the future! You’re wonderful!

  • http://www.unurthhome.com Jenn

    Your questions stopped me in my tracks. >>

    1. What is the difference between abundance & affluence?
    2. How do we separate what we desire from what we deserve?

    You put it so concisely. It is part of the struggle I feel in creating a creative business that is about creating objects that facilitate small, beautiful, intimate moments. Sometimes the treasure is not in the flash. It is difficult to cultivate, to promote and advertise, but it is worth every second in reaching for it.

    While it can be so easy to get pulled by others energy and get into the small/competitive state, the reason we (I?) are here is to create those small gorgeous moments: in community, with your morning coffee, or with whatever you may do.

    You have to put the beauty back. :) And that kind is not usually about flash. There are so many of us who love this kind of community and the world needs more of it.

    Your Amazing. Forge Ahead!!! Love.

  • http://equals.youplusme.com Elisabeth

    What a beautiful post! I very much believe that we’re all looking to connect from a place of honesty and authenticity. Big groups aren’t my thing, so I always have to give myself a little pep talk about finding kindred spirits and not getting sucked into the hoopla that inevitably comes with these sorts of events.

    My best moments at Alt this year were somewhat quiet ones–where I got to reconnect with women I’d met in prior years and connect for the first time with incredible women doing utterly amazing things. I was disappointed in myself that I didn’t reach out to more people in advance because I think I could have created more of those moments (although there’s something kind of cool about letting them happen through serendipity).

    Overall, this experience reminded me that cultivating abundance requires me to maintain my focus on honesty and gratitude all the time. And really connecting with like-minded individuals (especially the ones I don’t get to see very often) means I have to be better about putting myself out there. So I guess even the imperfect parts of this experience helped remind me of my goals.

    It was such a pleasure to meet you and get to know you better through this insightful and thoughtful post. I hope we have the opportunity to collaborate on something. You’re clearly an awesome person.

  • http://www.gatherandhuntvintage.com Danae

    I don’t think I can say anything better than what has already been said in the wonderful comments this post has received, but I do want to say thank you for this.

    I’ve left Alt two years in a row feeling empty, and starving for a deeper connection and more time to make those connections. I’ve felt bad about feeling that way and this morning I felt that burden lift reading this post. Thank you for putting into thoughtful words, some of the things I’ve felt over the last year.

    I’m so sad that I didn’t meet you at Alt (I do remember seeing you because I love your hairstyle!), but I’m glad that I found you here and I appreciate your commitment to community. Keep it up- it’s what we need most.

  • http://www.facebook.com/Sparrownestscript Emily

    As someone who sponsored part of Alt this year (a decision that was financially difficult, but which I desperately hoped would help get my name and work “out there”), I really really enjoyed reading what you had to say about the event, Jessika. At this point in my life/career, I could never afford to go to conferences like this, but I often think that people like me (the little guys, so to speak) might benefit the most from them. I’d love to see something like you described come to fruition: a more intimate, sustainable, gathering based more specifically on togetherness and idea exchange between creatives. After all, the “goodies” don’t matter nearly as much to me as the minds I would encounter and the friendships I would form.

  • http://lisayoder.blogspot.com Lisa

    Thank you for writing this incredibly honest reflection. I’ve never been to Alt, but I’d love to go at least once to experience it, and I’ve sort of wondered about this a little bit. I haven’t seen it addressed anywhere else.

  • http://www.craftcationconference.com nicole stevenson

    jessika-THANK YOU! i feel lucky and grateful to have attended alt but also share (as you know) your sentiments on fitting in, the opulence and the importance of community and meaningful connections. i took so much goodness home with me from alt and part of it was to remember to keep myself and my own events true to who i am and not fall into the i’m not good enough or my event doesn’t stack up train of thought. the same way we seek fellow creatives that share our ethos i think we need to seek events that share it as well–alt isn’t the only conference out there (camp mighty, quiltcon, schoolhouse craft, blogalicious, snap, mom 2.0 craftcation {the one i produce} etc…) though sometimes it seems like it is–as attendees we need to research and find the events that fit our sense of who we are, what we need and what we value. thank you again jessika for your candid words :)

  • http://linzlovesyou.com/ Lindsay

    This sounds very familiar to my experience at the AIGA y-17 conference earlier this year. We didn’t have time for networking, it was cliquey, and (although it doesn’t seem like this was the case at Alt, luckily), the speakers were just all about ME ME ME and showing off. It’s definitely a fine line to walk between conference and networking event, but I think more conferences should schedule in downtime so that attendees can get to know each other in less high pressure situations like parties, where you feel like you have to be all dressed up and fabulous (or in the case of other blogging conferences, totally drunk). Maybe networking lounges or something for people to really be able to meet and have meaningful engagements?

  • http://www.walkingwithcake.com/ Catherine

    Thank you so much for your honesty! I attended Alt for the first time this year, and was completely and utterly overwhelmed. I thought I knew what to expect, but I didn’t, and I left feeling a bit deflated after it all. It’s just so big and over the top that I felt like there wasn’t any room for a small blogger like me who is in this for fun and friends. My husband went along with me, so I skipped most of the conference and spent time exploring SLC, instead. We still had an amazing time and got a taste of the city, too.

  • http://everyday-reading.com Janssen

    What a wonderful post. I’ve been contemplating attending Alt next year (I wanted to go this year, but just had a new baby in December), and I hope that if I do go next year, I can have the collaborative, connecting experiences I’m hoping for. Thank you for sharing your thoughts.

  • http://Www.kerryburki.com Kerry

    Wow! Jessika, I am always amazed by your bravery to speak from your heart. You do a I recently moved back to a Scottsdale, AZ and there is a lot of affluence here. I have been careful to notice where I am wanting and also what truly fills me with happiness.
    I am starting to seek out opportunities to share yoga, journaling and discussion with creatives and really anyone who wants to feel good.
    Thank you for being a guiding light for staying true to oneself!

  • http://theartfuldesperado.com/ Gabriel

    AH! You know what, I kinda experienced the same feeling when posting my recap from ALT (am I bitter? is this a bad move?), and I am SO HAPPY to see the people that I connected with felt the same way! That means something, that means that we are kindred souls (at some level). I believe there are different communities within the same Alt community (or any other event) and that’s ok. They all cater to a different niche and type of personality. The trick is to find balance – and as you mention – it can be hard fitting your ethics in different circles. I think once we find the right circle, then those ethics will fit like a perfect puzzle piece and it will feel so natural and effortless to connect with others. Congrats on this lovely post! Can’t wait to connect again miss Jessika! :)

  • http://borealtrim.com Lori-Ann

    Jessika–I adore your heartfelt honesty, and the way that “community” is a part of your every cell. It’s a lens you see the world through, and you have already changed the world because of it. I can’t wait to see what’s next for you, because of this!
    And as a new organizer for Spark retreat this year, I’m considering your comments in how we can make Spark its absolute best. Thank you for being so real, and for speaking up.
    xo

  • http://raincoastcottage.com Sandra

    I’ve been thinking about your post all day long! I agree with Gabriel in that there are many different communities within Alt. I also believe that by being truly honest and open about our own values, then we’ll attract like-minded people.

    Still processing…did I get what I wanted/needed out of attending Alt? Yes – I learned some new skills, heard some challenging & inspiring speakers, and had some lovely conversations with friends old and new.

    I wish that I had spent even MORE time connecting and chatting – it flew by much too quickly. But that was my own responsibility and nothing that Alt could change. Half hours between sessions, longer breaks before dinner, the evening parties – all were great chances to meet people.

    The flash and the fun and the parties – for me it was a bit of dress up that I don’t experience in my day-to-day. A fantasy, perhaps. Fun.

    • http://ohmyhandmade.com/members/ohmyhandmade/ Jessika Hepburn

      GAH! I am trying so hard to reply to each of these comments but I am getting a bit swamped by them all-I can’t wait to move to the new site and have threaded comments so we can have a proper conversation here!

      @Gabriel, meeting you was a dream! You stood out to me from the very beginning with your adorable outfit and so much confidence in your radiant smile! I don’t doubt for a second you found a group of kindred souls to connect with-you were calling out to us:) I worry most for the people who don’t radiate their truth like that, how an event like Alt might make them feel if they lack the community building powers we are lucky to have access to. Perhaps it is because I come from a background of working with vulnerable/marginalized people but I think an event needs to speak to the members of the group who might need support facilitating those connections.

      @Sandra via Gabriel’s comment, I loved meeting you at Alt too! I think there is a big difference between an event having many communities under one overarching umbrella and that blurring into an event having many cliques. One might look like another but a community welcomes while a clique excludes. Let’s follow up on that conversation about planning an event in Vancouver-I think a homecoming for me is most definitely needed! I learned everything I know about community on the corner of Hastings & Main. I welcome flash & fun & an excuse to dress up (have you ever been to the People’s Prom in Vancity, so fun!) but shouldn’t it feel like a game then, where we play at the glitter & know there is a vibrant truth underneath it? Instead of the surface being the piece that is being promoted and those intimate connections something we need to figure out on our own?

      So many questions!

  • http://www.recipeforpress.com Amy Flurry

    If you’re writing is any indication of the strength of your speaking chops (and I have a feeling you have that gift too!) then there will be a seat for you on panels of many a great conference and summit to come. I can only hope that it’s right next to mine! Thank you for the thought and care that went in to writing this post.

  • http://www.empapers.com Eleanor

    Thank you, thank you! for posting this. It was thoughtful, brave and honest! I am conflicted to wanting to go to Alt some day to meet everyone, but have had some very similar thoughts. So glad I subscribed to this blog!

  • http://thirtythreadbaremercies.wordpress.com Rhea

    I found this piece really honest and beautiful. I respect your values and your willingness to allow ambivalence in your experience, to feel everything – what you are comfortable with and what you are not. I am certain I would have had the same experience as you if I had been there, as that level of opulence makes me so uncomfortable. But you had the grace and guts to put it into words that were non-judgmental, pointing out what you are FOR more than what you are against. Thank you, this will help me when figuring out whether I will attend Alt, and what to expect if I do go.

  • http://www.gaiacornwall.com/ Gaia

    Jessika thanks so much for this post. As a creative person, I enjoy looking at pretty things and am drawn to them. But the profuseness of such images in our online community and apparently, events such as Alt, can start to feel overwhelming. I can tell when I’ve had too much– instead of inspired, I find myself with a running tally of how my life is lacking. And it’s easy to lose sight of your core values.
    Thanks so much for writing such an open and heartfelt post! You’ve given us all a lot to chew on. I love what Tanja said “The opulence can be fun, but the real reasons for the event must be more apparent.”

  • http://www.thefieldtripcompany.com/outonafieldtrip Natalie

    Thanks Jessika! I too would have liked more small intimate moments built into the event. I enjoyed the panels (and loved yours!), but felt that I was rushing rushing rushing the whole time. Only at the end of the day did I feel I could catch my breath. The Wednesday night dinner and the Foodie Tour on Saturday afforded me an opportunity to have some one on one time and slow down a bit without any distractions, which was much needed. Thanks for extending yourself out there, you are obviously not alone!

  • Debra

    Jessika, what a beautiful and honest post. Some of what you said has kept me from going. I want an experience of connections, creativity and inspiration. I think NS would be a beautiful spot to host such an event – hint, hint ;)

  • http://www.papiervalise.com Janice

    Hello Jessika–

    What I loved 1st about your overview of Alt was that it was personally refreshing and truthful and written with integrity.

    The second thing I loved was reading Gabrielle’s response-extremely professional and non-judgemental about your personal experience.

    This feels like a discussion and is so refreshing to read on-line. Often when offering constructive criticisms responses in the negative go back and forth between parties or comments tend to jump on one person’s “back”–I just loved the overall feel it gave me, personally, when reading it.

    Although I do not have plans to go to Alt (and would not have a problem attending)–I would like to remind you that you live in one of the most beautiful little towns (and one of my favorites) in the world (I miss my beloved NS and especially L.)–where it would be a true “escape” for many to connect with the creative community.

    I hope to be back to NS permanently one day but any excuse to combine my family visits with a craft/making/creative community event would be very exciting.

    Janice

  • Jeannine @ Small Chic Home

    I’m so thankful for this post!

    I go to conferences for work (omg, I’m a part-time blogger!) and as an extrovert, I love them. They reenergize me and make me excited.

    But I have a hard time getting excited by the idea of a blogger conference and I think you’ve touched on why.

  • Bee Eastman

    Thanks Jessika for this most informative post. It gave me so much information of what ALT is like. I always pay no attention to it because I don’t think I belong there.