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hello my name is, by medialoog (Creative Commons)As some of you may know, I work from home, splitting my time between blogging, crafting, and freelance web development. As part of the latter, I recently had the pleasure of attending an "un-conference" called Open Beta here in Oklahoma City.

Open Beta was set up as an opportunity for local web professionals with different specialties to connect with each other. See, while there are several groups in this area for tech professionals, they all have their specific niches: web designers, Ruby on Rails developers, Java developers, etc. There's never been one event for these people with different specialties to meet up and exchange ideas... until now. Open Beta gave people a chance to share what they were doing and see what others in the community were doing. It gave us a chance to meet folks we might not have otherwise. And it allowed everyone to get excited and inspired by the ideas of others.

I love being surrounded by creative people sharing their creative ideas. The excitement and energy is so contagious! And so I came away from Open Beta, not only having made connections with other local professionals that I may be able to work with in the future, but also totally inspired to hit the ground running with my own ideas.

Wondering why I'm talking about this on a crafting blog? Here's the reason:

I'd love to see this happen in the crafting community. We also tend to socialize based on our specific niches — a knitting group, a polymer clay group, an Etsy sellers group, etc. And that's great: it's a good way to learn together with others in your specialty. But it seems like there are very few opportunities to get together and share ideas with a broader group of creatives. Here are the benefits I think such a meet-up would have:

  • Find out what else is going on in the local community. While I'm aware of things that are going on in the local polymer clay community and a few paper crafts groups, I know I miss out on a lot of other things. It wasn't til I started chatting with a gal at the state fair that I knew there was a local beading group. And I just learned from a Twitter friend this weekend that there's a monthly craft supply swap, an event I've frequently envied in other cities but hadn't realized we had here. If various crafty groups could print fliers or set up info tables at an event like this, think how many more interested folks could get involved in these groups.
  • Share what you're working on and connect with like-minded folks. Open Beta had both demos (people showing their latest projects) and mini-talks (people talking about ideas or projects). I loved that a couple of the speeches were just ideas — things along the lines of "here's what I'd like to see happen... if anyone's interested in helping me make it happen, let me know." When you share like that, you open yourself up to finding kindred spirits, people who may have had the same ideas as you and want to partner up to make them happen. Things that seemed impossible on your own are suddenly possible. For example, I've wondered about starting a local Church of Craft group, but wasn't sure whether there would be any interest or how to get started. This would be a great place to find out! Same goes if you're thinking about starting a group that donates quilts to a local charity, or any other bigger-than-yourself project.
  • Just get inspired. I've always been a bit on the shy side, but there's something about being around other creatives that can make me feel instantly connected. Seeing what others are doing and seeing the passion they have for their ideas can be truly inspirational.

So here's what I'm wondering:

If you're in the OKC area, would you be willing to work with me to make this Craft Un-Conference happen?

First a little background on what an un-conference is:
"The name 'unconference' arose to describe conferences that step outside of the more traditional model — that is, presentations selected months beforehand, sponsors buying speaking slots, boring panels of talking heads, and high fees." Unconference.net

There are a variety of different un-conference models (barcamps, foocamps, etc.). I'm imagining an event where, at the very least, groups can share information about where/when they meet and individuals can do talks and demonstrations about their projects or ideas. Some other options include:

  • An opportunity for folks to sell items, though we'd want to limit the time on that. The sellers shouldn't be stuck behind their tables the whole time and miss out on the conference!
  • A series of instructional workshops where anyone can share their expertise in any area (whether it's a specific craft, or a related topic like pricing your work to sell).

If you're interested in helping me make this happen in OKC, please contact me. I'd like to start bouncing ideas around.

If you're not from around here, I'd love to hear from you too. Have you been involved in any local events like this? What worked? What didn't? Leave me a comment telling me about your ideas or experiences.

Update: I've set up a new website for this. Sign up for the mailing list at Craftin' OKC to stay posted as plans for the un-conference progress.


I wish I could participate in this with you but Im all the way in Florida. I can share that recently there was this event here is downtown ft. lauderdale where different crafters and independent artists got together to make a "Fun Fair". There was a dj, food, and crafty goodness. They charged $2.00 to get in but it was great. I got to meet local artists that I didnt even know about. Hope this helps some.

Thanks, Susanna!

I'd love more info on the Fun Fair. Was it more than just a craft fair where folks could sell their goodies? What kind of crafty goodness...? Was there anything in particular that you enjoyed?

I'm glad to hear there are some interesting things like this going on around the country!

Something like Maker Faire would be awesome in OKC. However, that might be larger and of bigger scope than you are thinking or would want to tackle first time around.

I always love to see cross-pollinated gatherings of crafty people, and I think the moment is particularly ripe for all of us to gather and discuss (live, not online) this culture we're building and what it means. Great post!

(If you ever want to talk about starting a C of C chapter, I'm more than happy to answer questions or give you my hints & perspectives.)

Glad you mentioned this, Derrick. I think something that includes the whole DIY community (not limited to crafters only) would be awesome. You're right that Maker Faire may be a bit ambitious for the first time around, but it sounds like a good goal!

Thanks for the offer, Sister Diane. I love your crafting philosophy and the way Church of Craft embraces being creative for creativity's sake!

I know how your feel. Not in OKC so can't help out. But attended my first Church of Craft and that is exactly the kind of the local gathering you might anticipate. Getting the word out is often a challenge, though.

Since you're doing craft as a business, have you heard of CraftCon? Imagine a crafty conference all about the business of crafting. It will be held in LA this spring.


Must admit that almost every barcamp and unconference I've attended, one of the biggest sessions was a talk about crafting.

Feel free to get in touch with me if you plan this. I have crafty contacts all over the place.

Thanks for the offer of help & for the CraftCon info... I'll look forward to learning more about this year's event!

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