Intentional communities come together by careful planning and a bit of magic. At CERSI (Central East Region Summer Institute), we call that SI Magic. SI Magic can happen when you least expect it and when you need it the most. The planning committee (SIPC) that meets all year long had found a new location for 2020 at California University of Pennsylvania, about 20 miles south of Pittsburgh. BUT then a pandemic hit the world.
All summer in-person programs had been cancelled. So, what to do……so many people rely on this community for connectiveness. The SIPC put together a weeklong online version of Summer Institute, complete with morning centering videos by the ministry team, dinner with old and new friends in Zoom breakout rooms and evening activities for all ages. It was an experiment that was a success, primarily because of the SIPC work and the thirst for the SI Magic. That was 2020.
Now we are in 2021, adults are getting vaccinated, and we are feeling much more tech savvy. It is still not safe to hold Summer Institute in person on a college campus this summer, but we will hope to be there NEXT year! But first 2021! CERSI 2021, Food for Your Soul, will be held online the week of July 11th but NEW this year is Whova, software to make the experience much more interactive. Whova, used by many conventions and gatherings, allows for everything to be in one place. Downloadable content, live workshops, virtual meetups and communication platforms are ways Whova will bring us all together.
Another new thing the SIPC is trying this year is to really offer a sample of what next year’s programing will be like. Our theme speaker in 2022, Kazim Ali, will be spending an evening with us this year talking about their poetry and their thoughts about 2020 and beyond. We will be offering one-session workshops so you can try out an offering for next year – THIS year. Online registration will open on April 15th and the Whova app will be ready to go in mid-June for early connections and ways to get involved.
It is the hope of the SIPC and UUA staff that first-timers and long-time attendees will find a bit of the SI Magic in CERSI 2021, Food for Your Soul. Won’t you join our Intentional Community? Visit the CERSI website for the latest updates.