Let's start with the reference in the Board Chair's transmittal of the document: it's the "Young Adult Strategy Document." Not satisfied with NextGen or NowGen or the other misnomers, now it has become "Young Adults" ... and that's so unfortunate inasmuch as most dictionary definitions find "young adullts" to be defined as those between 12 and 18 years old. Whatever became of the admonition "know your audience?"
Did I learn anything from this Primer for Professional and Lay Leaders (JFNA's pretension 2)? Sure: JFNA now has a Development Affinities Department (pretension3?) and I have to admit I don't know what that is -- but clearly it has something to do with restating the obvious (the next generation of federation donors and leaders is hard to engage) and relying on Jack Wertheimer's excellent research into ths engagement of "Leaders in their Twenties and Thirties" almost entirely for their conclusions -- with a number of which I am pretty confident Wertheimer would disagree.
To JFNA, Festivus is one of a number of "...meaningful and content-driven programs" for "young adults" -- it is apparently just disguised as a Las Vegas party so as to "...(find) new ways for the message to resonate with them." (Oy vey!!) TribeFest:Vegas is, after all, the Opening Event of Strategy. Please raise your hands if you believe that the "strategy" came first, followed by TribeFest as opposed to the reverse. You might guess that I believe the "strategy" is no more than an after the fact rationalization for a party gone bad from the get-go. And, you would be right.
Then there is an amazing set of definitions of activities for the TribeFest event itself -- apparently if you call a "plenary," the "Main Stage," or rebrand the "Exhibit Hall" the "Big Show" (where "heavy hors d'oeuvres [sic]" will be served), it will make all the difference to the intended audience. Then "there will be blocks of time dedicated to 'sessions' (will not be called traditional 'breakout sessions or forums')..." Friends, I am not making this up -- and the paragraph is titled "Side Stage Breakout Sessions" and, later, yep, "Breakout Sessions."
I could go on but you get the idea -- now it is variously titled TribeFest, TribeFest: Las Vegas or TribeFest: Journey in the Desert or, of course, Tribefest: A Marketplace of Ideas -- but, whatever it's called, it remains, as one of our Commentators called it "trivializing the already trivial." It demeans its very target audience by suggesting that the attraction of Las Vegas trumps the need for real substance -- it is the tail wagging the dog. It is, sadly, as it has been since its conception, such a waste. Even if 1,800 "Young Adults" show up (at sharply reduced Registration costs and a subsidy), is this a success?
P.S. A Friend of the Blog forwarded on to me a TribeFest "tweet" which announced that Mayim Bialik...yes, her...will speak at the Festivus. Now I am pretty excited -- although I think that Ms. Bialik may be outside the demographic -- Mayim had a small role (and she has appeared in any number of TV series, I guess) as a Funkhauser on my favorite show, Curb Your Enthusiasm. If the organizers keep this up, they will soon announce Henry Winkler as MC,.