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GSN’S 2012 CONGRESS ROCKED!
September 30 - October 3, 2012 at Sunriver Resort, OR
The Green Spa Network Congress is always a highlight of our annual activities, and this year, even the organizers were “wow-ed”. A unique event in the spa world, this gathering is about exploring the person behind the business contact, to set the stage for powerful, one-to-one networking that transforms our everyday experience of working together. This year, consensus showed that our mission was brought to an even higher level – we parted as a truly connected network!
To kick off our meeting at Sunriver, we all gathered in the resort’s gorgeous, barn-like meeting hall where our chairs circled three bowls of water, commemorating the theme of “In the Flow: Consciousness, Collaboration & Commerce.” We were asked to meet someone new to us, learn their reason for attending and share it with the group. This simple exercise was at times uproarious and poignant, and succeeded in breaking the ice so well that the remaining time was truly spent among friends.
Pilar Girasimo, author and founding editor of Experience Life magazine, was the first keynote speaker. She gave a dynamic recounting of her own journey to wellness; how she “hit the wall” in her whirlwind lifestyle - and wasn’t at all practicing the wellness she preached! Her humorous and accessible story rang true with attendees and set the tone for honest and down-to-earth exchanges.
Pilar’s talk, and many other sessions, were followed with a new “World Café” format where we gathered into roundtable discussion groups of 10-12. Each group discussed assimilating the session material into their life and work, then shared their (sometimes hilarious) real world examples of the points with the rest of the room.
GSN President Roberto Arjona reviewed the many accomplishments of our organization over the past year and the events, tools, and happenings on tap for 2013. The group was delighted to meet Deb Berlin, GSN’s energetic, new Executive Director who most recently worked at the Environmental Protection Agency. Deb touched on past EPA projects and explained her path to blending her personal passions with her career - which, in a nod to spa great Shiela Cluff, even included time as a competitive ice skater.
The Lifestyle Lounge and Platinum Sponsor Showcases continued on in the same educational theme with spas and vendors exchanging ideas as colleagues.
The crescendo of the gathering came when Jean Houston took the stage and embraced the room on Tuesday. In a mix of shaman and happy sage, this advisor to presidents, the Dali Lama, and the United Nations, and founder of the human potential movement, immediately made us feel at ease. She noted the great importance of our wellness work at a key time in history when it’s so badly needed, and there were a few tears in the audience over this tremendous recognition. Jean astounded us again, when, after her keynote, she offered to stay and lead our interactive sessions. The room of nearly 100 was on the edge of their seats and the tips of their toes as she took the discussion even deeper. GSN founder Michael Stusser said it best, “Jean rocked our world!”. To Jean: we remain inspired, energized and charging forward!
As is our tradition, nature is woven into the Congress agenda. Viewing the night sky through telescopes at Sunriver’s planetarium, and a full moon canoe trip on a nearby lake were incredible. We doubled-down on our mission to protect the wonders of nature.
The final day included a moving presentation by the Plastic Pollution Coalition as well as very useful, real world marketing and public relations tips, trends & case studies.
It was hard to leave the magic of these autumn days spent recharging and renewing together in that lovely corner of the world. But, as we learned, there is much to do until we meet again!