Over the past weekend we saw the third International Conference on Men’s Issues come and go. While I did not have the pleasure of being on the Gold Coast of Australia to enjoy the event, I was able to stay in communication with AVFM staff and volunteers during the festivities. I am happy to report that everything went splendidly – a fact that has been confirmed by a stream of congratulatory emails over the past 24 hours from speakers and attendees.
Accordingly, I wanted to take a moment to take note of the kind of sacrifice it requires to put on a three-day event of this kind. In our case it meant 15+ hour work days for everyone involved. It meant working without breaks, even breaks for meals. It meant making sure that every aspect of the event happened on-time, every time. That included the logistics of transporting speakers and staff, assuring that every speaker was on and off stage on-time, that meals were prepared and served at the correct moment for hundreds of people, that everyone there was safe and secure, and that all the audio/video services were operating at all times so that all those unable to attend will be able to enjoy the speeches beyond the conference itself.
In short, it is a small group of people who endure months of preparation and at least four days of working hell to provide education, pleasure and support to a much larger group – and to further our cause of shining a light on the issues faced by men and boys.
I can speak to all this with authority because I have been there myself a couple of times. To say thanks are in order is a massive understatement. However, thanks are all we really have.
In giving these thanks I am aware that we have people who are not inclined toward public appreciation. They don’t do this work looking for recognition, and I expect that in offering these public accolades that it may not sit as well as I would like with all the recipients. To that I say, sorry, but too bad. Like it or not, you are role models. You are the examples to which others aspire and that makes you invaluable to the future of the MRM. Just consider these inadequate public thanks as your last act of duty for the conference.
With that, on behalf of AVFM and the men for whom we advocate, heartfelt thanks to the following:
Mike Buchanan of Justice for Men and Boys, emcee and general conference workhorse. A more dedicated MRA I have never met.
Robert Brockway, AVFM’s managing editor, emcee and slave to the event. That is Robert B-R-O-C-K-W-A-Y. For those not attending, that spelling was an inside joke you will get when the videos are released.
Bryan Scandrett, AVFM’s Facebook page administrator, in charge of conference registration, logistics, general whip cracking (and a dozen other assorted matters).
David King, AVFM CIO in charge of wires and plugs strewn like spaghetti across the event, ticketing, artwork and a handful of other matters that I pretty much don’t understand.
Bettina Arndt, keynote speaker and media coordinator who pushed well and hard for awareness of the conference and ticket sales.
John Lambert, who jumped out of a perfectly good airplane to raise awareness of men’s suicide on top of working diligently on artwork for the event – among other things.
Daisy Cousens, media liaison and moderator of the press conference.
Kristy Roberts, volunteer chef that kept the troops fed. And a special note here. Most conference responsibilities are a burden. They pale in comparison to the job of waking every morning at 2 AM and heading for the venue so that everyone in attendance can come in 7 or 8 hours later to a freshly prepared breakfast – then to prepare whole animals roasted on a spit by lunchtime. Kristy deserves special recognition for every cut, burn and additional hour she put up with to make this event better than the ones before it.
Tom Caulfield, who for the second time consecutively came to ICMI on his own dime to provide us professional level video documentation of all the speakers.
Other volunteers, all of whom played very, very important roles in everything from food service to transportation, registration and all other support services, are as follows. Some of these are the requested screen names from those who prefer to remain anonymous.
Special thanks go out to all the speakers, and to the staff of the Albert Waterways Community Centre, who stuck by us with professionalism and courtesy all the way through the event. And finally to the attendees themselves. Without your willingness to purchase tickets and take time out of your busy lives to attend, none of this would be possible.
Everyone involved committed their time, sweat and often their own money to play a very important role in one simple but difficult objective: furthering compassion for men and boys. They are owed deepest thanks from AVFM and indeed from anyone concerned with decency and fairness for all human beings. I hope and trust you will join me in saying thank you.
Here’s to all of you, with gratitude and looking forward to ICMI’18.