Fall 2020 Fall Festival – Impressions of an Online Retreat

2020 Fall Festival Impressions

I was happy to participate in the inaugural Zoom EUU Retreat as both an attendee and a workshop provider. The EUU Retreat Committee did a phenomenal job in organizing the events and the technological side of the retreat. They even held private tech meetings for those of us lending our Zoom accounts. It gave me the confidence to do so.

It went so well, overall. It was great to see people that I haven’t seen in a year or more. My last retreat was the Spring of 2019, so it was wonderful to have this instead of no retreats this year. The schedule worked well, though I did pick and choose events more as inevitably there was some Zoom fatigue, but I often go to bed early or skip a workshop at regular retreats, so it wasn’t really that different. I was really surprised at how it felt like people were really there. In the evenings, there were Zoom breakout rooms where we could mix with different people. Those nicely recreated the social aspect; even if it wasn’t the same feeling as in person, it was a great substitute.

One good thing for me about it being online is I felt a little more comfortable offering a workshop. I am a shy person and never would have felt like I could offer a workshop if I had stand in front of people, but having that distance made it a little more comfortable; though, I was still nervous. The committee was very supportive. The workshop period needed to be longer, but I felt that the participants were engaged, and we had active conversations.

I will happily attend another Zoom retreat. Nothing can top an in-person retreat, but this truly felt special, in its own right. I thought it was very successful and was so encouraging, as so many of us are facing rising numbers and new restrictions. Rev. Nicole Kirk was a fabulous speaker who fit this medium well, you would think she had done Zoom teachings her whole life.

Caitlin McGinn

Zoom Lobby Hosting

A person wearing glasses and smiling at the cameraI had the immense pleasure of being able to serve as a Zoom lobby and lounge host during several time slots over the retreat weekend. It gave me an opportunity to greet people as they joined each call and direct them to breakout rooms if they wanted to talk in a smaller group.

It also allowed me plenty of time to see and hear from a wide variety of retreat participants, which was a real joy! Volunteering in this way make me feel like an integral part of making sure our first virtual gathering of this type was as welcoming and friendly as an in-person retreat.

The retreat committee tech team developed a series of helpful How To guides and videos for volunteers like me, and I got a chance to practice in advance with Shulamit so I would know how to use the various Zoom features before I found myself on duty at the retreat itself.

While I started out a bit nervous about using the tools and being “The Host”, I was relieved to have learned the ropes from the tech team in advance. I also had back up assistance from other volunteers who served as co-hosts and could help admit people into the Zoom — or to whom I could hand over the reins when I was ready to head off to bed.

I was so impressed and enthusiastic about the thoughtful and well-designed way in which the retreat committee organised all the materials before, during and after our get together. It was a great privilege to be able to volunteer in this way, and I’m already looking forward to the next retreat. Hope to see you there!

Shellie H. 


Fall Festival 2020 Activities: Choir and Chair Yoga 

click here for reports

Workshop Reports

Reports of the following workshops, on topics related to Social Justice, are here.

  • Climate Justice and Injustice
  • Raising Awareness – Domestic Violence
  • Dismantling White Supremacy
  • Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Where YOU Are

Other workshop reports are here:

  • Science & Uncertainty
  • BioMimicry
  • The Anthropocene Era