When Pete Manzo, long-time grantseeker and nonprofit staffperson, told us he was going to the Council on Foundations conference for the first time (two weeks ago), he sounded to us like a Connecticut Yankee anticipating going to King Arthur's Court--what really happens at this grantmaker gathering where nonprofit folks can't go except by invitation from a foundation? So when he returned we asked him what his impressions were:
Well, warm and intimate it wasn't. It was HUGE--more than 3,000 people. The Gaylord Resort was cavernous, very new and lacking in soul. As Lucy Bernholz said, it was disorienting to hear people talking about environmental issues in a setting that seemed to waste energy and water and to have been designed to siphon off revenue from the nearby DC urban area.
People look at your badge to see where you work. Mine said "National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy" (where he's on the board) which I assume branded me as a left-wing outsider. Some of the plenary things were quite good, especially a panel on human rights - which was said to be the first