The CTC VISTA Project requires that host organization's send their VISTA member to a national conference during their year of service. Attending a conference provides a number of important training, development and future-plan opportunities for VISTAs with numerous benefits for host organizations as well.

Understanding the Conference Experience

Many VISTA members are initially reluctant to attend conferences. Often they have never attended a conference before and do not understand what they gain to benefit from attending. Additionally, VISTAs sometimes equate the Pre-Service Orientation (PSO) with a conference, which couldn't be farther from the truth.

Conferences provide a number of benefits, but it probably is the best, and sometimes the only, opportunity for VISTA members to meet a broad and diverse representation of people working within or related to their field of work. Serving deeply within their own organization, conferences offer the opportunity for VISTAs to acquire much greater width and depth in their understanding of their field of work.

These opportunities take many different forms and allow VISTA members a wide diversity of interaction. Most conferences are built upon standard presentations in which an individual or small group of people present to an audience. This, while educational, often is one of the least interesting and productive parts of a conference. Instead, there are many possibilities for meeting face to face, individually with leading practitioners or individuals working on interesting or applicable projects. Between sessions, at meals, at bars, clubs or parties, conference offer a great opportunities to make fun and personal connections with other people in the field. Conferences often take the form of "blowing off steam".

Meeting People at Conferences

VISTA members often do not realize it, but the work they are doing is usually cutting edge or intensely applicable to other people in the field. Introducing yourself as an AmeriCorps*VISTA will often times elicit recognition and special treatment. Many VISTAs have met people who have found them grants, resources, career advice, future employment or free drinks.

Bring business cards, promotional materials and be willing to talk to strangers.

Making Presentations

We highly, enthusiastically recommend that VISTA members take every opportunity to present at conferences.

Financing a Conference

As part of the application process, the CTC VISTA Project encourages host organizations to budget for their VISTA to attend a conference. Often times VISTA member will attend with their supervisor.

This should include:

  • ''Airfare''- Booking at least three weeks before (or earlier) provides the best prices. Also, please schedule flights so that VISTAs can attend the entire conference, even allowing for "book ends" in which the VISTA can attend pre- or post-conference events.

  • ''Hotel'' - We highly recommend that VISTAs stay in the conference hotel. This is most convenient as this is where conference activities are taking place, or departing from. Additionally this avoids placing the VISTA in a dangerous neighborhood or requiring additional transportation expense. VISTAs usually can find a roommate with another VISTA in order to split costs, though hotel rooms should be booked very early in order to receive a reduced conference rate.

  • ''Reimbursements or Per-Diem'' - VISTA members are already living at a low fixed-income and so effort should be taken to not make conferences a financial liability. We recommend VISTAs are either reimbursed for meals not covered by the conference and transportation (shuttle or taxi from airport to hotel) or receive a per diem (usually about $40 per day). Receipt retention procedures should be discussed prior to the conference.

NYC Grassroots Media: The goals of the NYCGMC are to strengthen and unify the networks of local grassroots media makers to better serve the communities of New York City.

In organizing media makers the coalition seeks to provide a space to look critically at the NYC indepedent media movement and organize for increased resources for local communities and for media advocacy. The coalition will work to provide a format through which independent media makers can communicate, collaborate and strategize ways to increase awareness of community organizing campaigns through media making.

The coalition will work to create both physical and virtual spaces where local media makers are accountable to and inclusive of the diverse communities of New York City, and provide spaces for organizations, artists and individuals to share experiences and resources, collectively develop projects and avoid duplicating efforts. We will use these connections and strategies and work together to demand a media system that will link our diverse communities, connect local and international struggles, and fight for social justice across boundaries and beyond borders. TBD, Spring 2010, NYC

Beyond Broadcast: For 50 years broadcast media have played a powerful role in shaping political culture and mediating citizen engagement in the democratic process. Now a participatory culture is putting the tools of media creation and critique in the hands of citizens themselves. Feb 24, Boston
Freedom to Connect: F2C is a meeting of people engaged with Internet connectivity and all that it enables, including vendors, customers, regulators, legislators, analysts, financiers, citizens and co-creators. This year, the theme of F2C is how universal connectivity and the plunging capital requirements of information production are changing our fundamental economic and social assumptions. March 5 & 6, 2007, Washington DC

International Computer Refurbisher Summit : This is a great conference for anyone interested in computer repair, receiving equipment for your CTC or students, and meeting refurbishers from around the world who provide equipment to NPOs, NGOs, and underserved communities.March 9, Washington DC

Women, Action & the Media: the Center for New Words is hosting the fourth annual Women, Action & the Media (WAM!) conference, more than 400 participants for a weekend of exchanging our observations, ideas, experiences, opinions, and tools for change—and planning together for action. TBD Spring 2011, Chicago, IL

Nonprofit Technology Conference (NTEN), April 4-6, Washington DC

Intel Computer Clubhouse International Conference, April 23-25, Chicago

Allied Media Conference The Allied Media Conference is an annual, weekend-long gathering of influential alternative media-makers and committed social justice activists, a unique cross-section of media workers, community organizers, daring filmmakers, ambitious radio producers, serious publishers, skilled web designers, and artists whose work makes revolution irresistible. This year's theme focuses on participatory media that transforms the producer and receiver, "Breaking Silence, Building Movements." June 18-20, 2010, Detroit

Communities and Technology: The Communities and Technologies biennial international conference serves as a forum for stimulating and disseminating research on the complex connections between communities - both physical and virtual - and information and communication technologies. June 28-30, 2007, Michigan State University

Alliance for Community Media A nonprofit, national membership organization founded in 1976, the Alliance represents over 3,000 Public, Educational and Governmental (PEG) access organizations and community media centers throughout the country. It also represents the interests of millions of people who, through their local religious, community and charitable groups, use PEG access to communicate with their memberships and the community as a whole. July 7-10, 2010, Pittsburgh, PA

NAMAC: brings together creators, thinkers, policy makers, administrators and funders to hear the most current thinking about the field’s future opportunities, to create a national platform for the media arts, and to strengthen our networks.Aug 26-29, 2009, Boston, MA

National Conference on Media Reform


External Lists

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