Very often the first piece of information we have about a person is their name, and for good reason. People are attached to their names, so having another person know it, learn it and repeat it is important to us. In our lives, we meet and learn lots of people’s names. And at events like the Wisconsin Permaculture Convergence, I hear lots of people’s names in a very short time, making it difficult for me to remember them. This is why I really like name tags.
Name tags not only help one another learn and remember names. They are a social lubricant that removes the awkwardness of forgetting people’s names, allowing us to get to the interesting stuff of people’s lives. Name tags also make people feel welcome, lowers anxiety, and helps people feel more a part of the group. And when everyone is wearing a name tag, I find it levels the playing field so no one is a stranger.
I’ve spent the last few evenings making wood name tags for this year’s Wisconsin Permaculture Convergence. I’ve enjoyed the process of finding tree branches (salvaged from a pile about to be chipped), creating a process to cut them more or less consistently thick, slicing them up and watching each one fall off the end of the branch.
Today, as the disks rolled off the chop saw table, I started to notice that regardless of my process, each one was just a little different than the last. The branch was getting slightly smaller or larger in diameter as I cut into it. Or the bark changed from limb to limb. Or an interesting knot or stub of a branch created a protrusion.
As I continued to slice off wooden disks, I started to think of the people who would be selecting them for name tags. Like the disks, each person will be slightly different than anyone else at the Convergence. They’ll pick from the box of wooden disks, write their name, maybe draw something, slip a piece of twine through the hole and wear it for the rest of the weekend.
With each new encounter or reunion with a new or old friend, that name tag will help others recall names. People may comment on the wood, or the decoration, or any other aspect of the name tag. A conversation will start, and they’ll forget about the name tag. And that’s as it should be, because the name tag did its job to introduce or reacquaint people.
This is why I spent the last few evenings cutting up tree branches to make a couple hundred name tags. Because for me, the Convergence is about learning and teaching and sharing. But mostly, it’s about getting to know new people and reuniting with old friends. And the one thing we all have in common, besides interest in Permaculture, is we each have a name.
I look forward to learning yours.
SESSION LEADER PROPOSAL
We are still taking proposals from people interested in leading a session at the convergence in 2018. If you or someone you know are interested please fill out the form at the link below. Contact us if you have any questions not answered by the information in the form.
We are looking for businesses and organizations who would like to sponsor the convergence. We want to help you get the word out about your services and are pleased to provide an opportunity to reach people interested in all areas of Permaculture. Please check out the information by clicking on the link below if you are interested.
The convergence team is always looking to add additional team members to help with planning, outreach and day of duties. Please send us an email (firstname.lastname@example.org) if you would like to help the 2018 Convergence rock as hard as the past four!