Monette Richards stays plenty busy as a member of Secular Woman’s board of directors (and as our designated tech-savvy member), but last month she represented SW on the road––and pinch-hit as a speaker––at Skepticon 6. Her talk, “Moving Forward,” discussed the place of women in the secular movement, Secular Woman’s founding and goals, and how discussions of harassment and sexism are helping our community grow and learn. Richards took a few minutes to chat about her experience attending the conference and speaking out on behalf of SW’s mission.
JB: What was your impression of Skepticon?
MR: Skepticon was awesome! Lauren and crew did a pretty great job and getting all the details in place. I had no problems signing in, getting our table set up or running the workshop. I don't think the schedule was wavered from, once. They did an excellent job of sticking to the time table and getting all the details right.
But, most importantly, it was fun! The entire event is run with a positive, fun spirit of having a great time––and when the organizers are looking at it that way, the event goers naturally feel it, too.
JB: I loved your talk! (Watch it here.) What was that experience like for you?
MR: I was a last-minute ask to replace someone who couldn't make it. My experience in giving talks prior to this consisted of one workshop I did for a few local groups and during FTBConscience. I had done nothing like this before. And I was on stage at the same event as people whose talks had made me laugh, and cry, and be silent with awe!
I started working on it on the plane. But my weekend was soon filled with people and tabling and beer and more people, and when was I going to write this talk? So, it was short and a little fuzzy and I was more than a little nervous. I have some amazing friends who gave great ideas and pointers and support, though. So it'll be an even more Awesome Talk of Awesome next time!
JB: Was there an experience, conversation, or talk that particularly stuck with you?
MR: I didn't get to see a lot of the talks as I was tabling in the vendor room (selling the coolest shirts ever). However, I had two huge takeaways from the whole weekend. The first was the inner conversation sparked by Greta Christina's talk. The whole time she was emphasizing self-care being more important than some item, proposed bill, or wrongdoing, I kept nodding my head while saying, "Yes, but…" So, I know I have a lot of work to do there, a lot of work on myself. I have to convince myself to take some time to remember how to relax, again. And that way, I'll have even more fun making even more friends and having an even greater time at the next one!
The second was my reconfirming that we have a lot of amazing people involved in this movement. I have known this. But, it is re-enforced every time I go to a conference. While speakers are wonderful and their talks are important, it's what happens in between that make the most difference. Networking, making new friends and reconnecting with online friends are the real reasons I go.