Recruiting and Keeping Volunteers!

March 7, 2023

An online discussion to support organizers of dance, music, and song groups

In our mostly volunteer-powered community, we’ve long faced challenges when it comes to finding and keeping the people who make our organization’s dance, music, and song activities possible. The COVID pandemic exacerbated those challenges and impacted both our organizations and the environment in which we work.

CDSS Executive Director Katy German hosted this Web Chat to discuss volunteer management and address key volunteer-related questions, such as:

  • Where do we find new volunteers?
  • How do we appreciate the volunteers we have and help them avoid burn-out?
  • How do we create processes for training volunteers and planning for position turn-over?

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Building Cultural Equity in Communities

October 25, 2022

An online discussion to support organizers of dance, music, and song groups

This Web Chat provided firsthand experiences from organizers who have used CDSS grants to provide diversity, equity, and inclusion training for their groups. We heard about ways they have been applying what they’ve learned from these valuable workshops, and what’s next for their groups. We also included plenty of time for Q&A. Our special guests were:

  • Cindy Culbert and Rich Dempsey: Country Dancers of Rochester (Rochester, NY)
  • Janet Yeracaris and Vince O’Donnell: New England Folk Festival Association (New England region)
  • Lauren Keeley: DanceFlurry Organization (Albany, NY)

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Let’s Talk About Reentry, Part 7: Singing Together Safely

May 3, 2022

An online discussion to support organizers of song groups

Two organizers offered firsthand experiences about keeping their song groups alive and well through the pandemic by hosting in-person and online singing events. Our third guest provided the latest COVID-19 news from her public health perspective, with suggestions especially pertinent for song group organizers. Q&A with all three guests included:

  • Janice Hanson from Golden Link Folk Singing Society in Rochester, NY
  • Steve Deering from Vancouver Folk Song Society in Vancouver, BC
  • Dr. Kimbi Hagen, public health professor from Atlanta, GA

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Let’s Talk About Reentry, Part 6: Prioritizing Safety at In-person Dances

February 28, 2022

CDSS Executive Director Katy German had a conversation with three contra dance organizers who have resumed in-person dancing. They described adjustments they’ve made to their “normal” processes, what impacted their decision to resume, what they’re asking of participants, and what they recommend to others. We also presented a new online resource: Groups that Have Resumed In-person Events.

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Weathering the Winter Together

November 1, 2021

We used this Web Chat to generate lots of ideas for keeping communities safe and engaged during another pandemic winter. Small groups brainstormed further ideas in breakout rooms. Also, public health professor Dr. Kimbi Hagen shared news and perspectives about how the pandemic is progressing.

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In June 2018, CDSS began a new Web Chat series to support organizers of dance, music, and song communities across the continent and beyond. For each Web Chat, a pertinent topic is chosen and guest organizers from communities having success with that topic are invited to share their valuable experiences and suggestions (Q&A included).


Web Chats for OrganizersJoin us for our next Web Chat:

Communities in Conflict

Tuesday, May 30, 2023
7:30 p.m. ET (4:30 p.m. PT)

From disagreements about COVID protocols to strong feelings about role terms on the dance floor, dance leaders and organizers have been in the middle of passionate community discussions the past few years. As an organizer, what approaches and techniques can you use to help your group through these rough patches? And what can you do to keep your own balance along the way?

Join CDSS Executive Director Katy German with Jenny Beer, Dana Dwinell-Yardley, Sue Songer, and Kathy Story for a conversation about working through conflict as a community.

This Web Chat will be recorded and available to watch a few days after the event.

Register

Web Chat Guests

Jenny BeerJenny Beer, Philadelphia, PA

Many of you know Jenny as a (very) longtime English country dancer and dance choreographer. In her other life, she is both an anthropologist and a professional mediator and facilitator, with much experience teaching college students and adults about conflict resolution, negotiation, and mediation, especially in mixed-culture situations. If you find yourself informally mediating in your dance organization (or elsewhere), you can find lots of down-to-details advice, in her Mediator’s Handbook, which has gone through many editions since 1982. 

Dana Dwinell-YardleyDana Dwinell-Yardley, Montpelier, VT

Dana has been contra dancing since 2004, and has served on the Montpelier dance organizing committee since 2010. She’s proud of Montpelier’s reputation as a friendly, inclusive, and high-caliber dance. She’s also been proud and humbled to work alongside her committee members and dance community as they’ve navigated a lot of growth and change together, from gender-neutral role terms, to sliding scale admission, to restarting the dance safely during COVID times. Dana is a freelance graphic designer by day, as well as a climate justice activist, community singing organizer, and lover of mountains in any weather.

Sue SongerSue Songer, Portland, OR

Sue Songer has been a contra and English dancer and musician for more than 30 years. She plays piano and fiddle, beginning in her hometown of Portland, OR, and eventually performing across the US. Her specialty is piano accompaniment, which she has provided for a great many fiddlers and a number of contra dance bands.

Sue is also deeply involved with community (all-comer) contra dance bands. She has organized and directed the 75-member Portland Megaband since 1996. She has worked with smaller open bands in many different contexts and locations, sometimes conducting intensive weekend workshops aimed at coalescing the sound of these groups of disparate musicians and expanding their repertoire.

Over the years, Sue has served twice on the PCDC board of directors and on almost every PCDC committee and task group. She has twice been the president of the board of directors, most recently from June 2021 to June 2023. Her professional experiences as a public-school teacher and as a licensed psychologist have helped her guide the Portland dance community through some difficult times.

Kathy StoryKathy Story, Portland, OR

Kathy began contra dancing in Memphis in 2005 and was soon dancing at contra weekends throughout the Southeast and helping organize the Memphis dance weekend. When she moved to Portland, Oregon, she was delighted to discover the vibrant contra and ECD community there. Her first Raindance, Portland Megaband, and Northwest Passage were highlights of her dancing life. Kathy also plays fiddle (very badly, she says) and loves playing the contra and ECD repertoire at slow jams and at open band.

Kathy joined the Portland Contra Committee in early 2020 and was elected chair just as the world shut down from Covid. Like so many, she was devastated, but the important work of the committee and the friendships she developed with other members over Zoom sustained her. For three years, the committee worked diligently to further a welcoming, safe, inclusive, and fun community. Kathy was also privileged to be the face of the Portland Live concerts, through which she met many dancers and organizers on the West Coast and beyond.

Questions? Contact camp@cdss.org

Latest Web Chat:

  • Dancers at Tapestry Folkdance Center in Minneapolis

    Recruiting and Keeping Volunteers!

    March 7, 2023

    An online discussion to support organizers of dance, music, and song groups

    In our mostly volunteer-powered community, we’ve long faced challenges when it comes to finding and keeping the people who make our organization’s dance, music, and song activities possible. The COVID pandemic exacerbated those challenges and impacted both our organizations and the environment in which we work.

    CDSS Executive Director Katy German hosted this Web Chat to discuss volunteer management and address key volunteer-related questions, such as:

    • Where do we find new volunteers?
    • How do we appreciate the volunteers we have and help them avoid burn-out?
    • How do we create processes for training volunteers and planning for position turn-over?

    Read More

Previous Web Chats

Let’s Talk About Reentry, Part 5: News from Groups That Have Resumed In-person Events

August 12, 2021

There is strong interest amongst organizers in hearing news from communities that have already resumed in-person events. This Web Chat provided valuable experiences and suggestions from two dance and song organizers ​who are already navigating their reentry, as well as perspectives from a public health professional.

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Let’s Talk About Reentry, Part 4: Addressing Legal and Other Burning Questions

May 19, 2021

For this Web Chat, CDSS hired an attorney to address some of our broader community’s legal questions. Other panelists provided resources and considerations to help organizers chart their group’s course for safely emerging from the pandemic. Ultimately, each group needs to ask their own questions and find answers that are right for their location, type of event, and community. We’re all in this together!

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Let’s Talk About Reentry, Part 3: An MD Discusses Vaccines, and We Discuss Our Sector’s Needs

March 1, 2021

In this third installment of the “Let’s Talk About Reentry” Web Chat series, we featured presentations and discussions about how the pandemic has altered our communities’ needs and how we can best prepare for returning to in-person dancing, singing, and music-making.

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Singing and Playing Music in REAL TIME! An online discussion for organizers of song communities and open bands

January 13, 2021

Members of the Sacred Harp group FaSoLa Philadelphia (PA) and the Phoenix (AZ) Traditional Music & Dance Society joined us for this conversation. During the Web Chat, they shared their successes with using the computer program Jamulus to enable their groups to sing and play music in real time!

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