New Friendships and New Beginnings at HeadCount’s Field and Festival Committee Retreat

A grade-school teacher. A recruiter. A Sustainable Manufacturing Specialist with the E.P.A. An interactive advertising designer. A human resources project manager at Goldman Sachs. An AmeriCorps member. And a small handful of soon to be graduated college students.

What do all of these people have in common? More than just two bathrooms and a disco ball. HeadCount recently held its first ever leadership retreat for members of its “Field and Festival Committee.” A dozen volunteers who had spent the last few months planning HeadCount’s future via conference call got together – for the first time – in person.

We traveled from all parts of the county to converge and share our experiences, aspirations and insights. We played guitar hero. We went night sledding. We started (but didn’t quite finish) a game of Trival Pursuit.

We also laid down the foundation for an integrated strategic plan leading up to 2012 and beyond.

The three-day retreat began with a jaunt around New York City to meet with some of our board members. First we had lunch with Andrew Dreskin, founder of TicketFly and the Virgin Mobile Festival. Andrew shared the fascinating story of how he launched TicketWeb in 1995 and sold the first ticket ever sold on the internet.  We then met with Jason Bau of Hard Head (Warren Haynes’) management. Jason asked us for our opinion on many things – from the layout of “Awareness Village” at Mountain Jam to designs for new merchandise. Then we went back to the HeadCount offices where we met with Matt Busch, Bob Weir’s manager. Matt had all mesmerized with the inside story of how the living members of the Grateful Dead reunited through their shared interest in the 2008 presidential election.

While each of these meetings was unique it its own way, each one offered a chance for group discussions to unfold about the synchronistic processes involved in developing relationships, as well as politics and the music industry.

That afternoon we headed on to a condo on the slopes of Mountain Creek, a ski resort about an hour away in New Jersey. It proved to be quite an awesome adventure. The mountain is closed for the season, but that didn’t stop us from sledding on what was left of the snow.  We woke up Saturday morning to a bomb breakfast and got down to business. We split off into groups to tackle some of the most important puzzles that stand before HeadCount, including our messaging, our field plans for this year and next and our digital media strategy.

As the day unfolded it became clearer and clearer that we were coming up with some really exciting designs. Through the use of SWOT analyses, organizational cognitive mapping, hands-on field training and tons of brainstorming, we not only found our voice as an organization, we became the organization.

The evening ended with a Gutiar Hero tournament played under a spinning disco ball, and a more sedate game of Trival Pursuit in which a few of us – including our executive director – fell asleep.

The new friendships and ideas created at this intimate gathering stand to create ripples for HeadCount and those involved with us across the country.

Although HeadCount has been around since 2004, it felt like we were starting something… something big.

For more photos, visit our Facebook photo album.

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