The Perks (and Perils!) of Party Planning

March 6, 2020

Name: Nicole Britton

City: San Diego

Age: 17 and ¾

My descent into madness started in May 2018 when an email appeared in my inbox touting a unique program called the Social Fabric Initiative. Considering that: a.) I didn’t have a job for the summer, and b.) I was frustrated that I could read about global issues but couldn’t help out meaningfully without donating money or supplies...SFI seemed like the perfect opportunity for me.

After bonding over various icebreakers during the initial meeting (in which I learned that people really bond over speed-sung pop songs from the 2000’s), I got to speed-date multiple organizations. I filled out an interest card that would have some bearing on what Thread I would be in. (A Thread is a small group of 3-5 high school Youth Peace Leaders, two college Interns, and one Mentor from a local non-profit working together on a community change project.) After a few days, my assignment came in: LGBTQ+ Education and Advocacy. Although it wasn’t my top choice, it was a Thread that I was personally connected to. Some of my closest friends and family members are proud members of this community - a community, as I would soon learn, that has been an integral part of San Diego since World War II. For the next two weeks, my Thread and I debated about what we should do to raise awareness and acceptance of the LGBTQ+ community. We finally decided on an idea so fantastically brilliant and ambitious we had to go with it: an all-inclusive Fashion Show!!

Fast forward about six weeks, and I have to admit: event planning is HARD!

Beyond the fact that we only had four weeks to get the show on the road, we also had to educate ourselves on the rich history of San Diego’s LGBTQ+ community, reserve an adequate venue, and find the right speakers and models - all at the same time! I honestly never thought I’d be in this position - not because I can usually be found holed up in my house keeping the laundry from reaching Mt. Everest levels while working on my college applications and reading amazing books on my Dad’s oversized couch, but because I generally dislike large crowds and group projects. As you can probably tell, this was going to be a bit of a dive out of my comfort zone as I have never attempted anything like this before - but I was ready for it!!

All of the Youth Peace Leaders in the Thread took a position and I was in charge of organizing the models and speakers. During our fourth meeting, some of the challenges began. Let me give you two important pieces of advice about event planning:

  1. After deciding the theme for your event and creating a realistic budgeting plan, I highly recommend that you get a venue first, along with a date and time that works for everybody in the group. This allows for you to send out accurate information to all the parties involved and allows for presenters to give a definite yes or no on whether they can make it to the event. It is also important to make sure that the venue addresses everyone’s needs, including but not limited to adequate restrooms, enough space to hold the estimated amount of guests, overhead cover (in the case of outdoor seating), and chairs. In our case, after checking out a venue that did not meet our needs in terms of time and space, we sought out a second option.
  2. Second, you want to start reaching out to any speakers or special guests so they can know what is going on ASAP. This is important because it allows them to prepare their presentations. In our case, reaching out early allowed the models to get their outfits together. Since I was in charge of this part of the project, I decided to reach out to our Mentors from SD Pride, Jen LaBarbera and Fernando Lopez, to send me some contacts of organizations and individuals who may be interested in our event. The Interns also guided me towards the North County LGBTQ Resource Center, located in Oceanside, so we could have broader engagement and impact in the communities throughout San Diego.

I have to say that our project and SFI has taught me some important skills that I want to bring with me to college next year. One such skill is networking, or connecting with other people to form meaningful relationships. These relationships can help you start up a social justice project centered around a community, just like we did.

Along with the fact that I have managed to complete a group project and have enjoyed getting to know everybody that I’ve worked with over the past few months, I hope that our project with SFI continues forward in educating the general public about the LGBTQ+ community and its wonders, and that the fashion show can make a comeback next year!

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