This was my favorite part of the whole conference. This dapper, energetic man is Derrick Kayongo and he is a hero in my eyes. He founded something called the Global Soap Project to take used soap from hotels (by us wasteful Americans!), mold it into new, fresh bars, and send them home to people in his home country of Uganda. And it’s saving lives, particularly the lives of children in his country. He showed us the type of soap his father had made in his country. It was pretty nasty looking and he said it burns your skin, and wouldn’t be very good to use for children.
Ways you can help – ask the hotels you stay at to participate in the project, or you can donate to the project. It’s a very worthwhile cause and I’d like to help. Here is a video of Derrick teaching us a song from his country.
On my first day, I went to downtown Salt Lake for a walking tour/photo workshop. Despite the 100 degree heat and a very poor shoe choice (sigh), I had a lovely time and I learned a lot. This is my lovely teacher Karen Waldron from Choonkooloonks. Her motto is “Wildly convinced that you are uncommonly beautiful” which makes me just adore her all the more! PS: I think she is uncommonly beautiful too.
Fountain at the new City Creek shopping center. Our group had a bit of an advantage because I was local, so I was able to steer them towards some of the cool downtown sites.
Part of a fountain at City Creek Mall.
Table decor at the Joseph Smith building. Karen steered us towards an app called Snapseed that helped me spiff it up right from my iPhone – nifty!
Pretty shot of the Salt Lake temple through the fountain.
When I got back to the hotel, it was time to check in with my roommates. We had a lovely two-bedroom suite at the Canyons. It was absolutely gorgeous – two fireplaces, three bathrooms, I even had a fabulous garden tub (that I never even got a poke a toe in, because I was so darn busy!). My roommates were just terrific. Stacie (seated below me) is the only one I had known previously. Actually, she is my Avon lady and I had met her at several different blogger events, including EVO’10. Next to Stacie is Summer from Summer Scraps and Dennissa from Denny On The Spot. I found them through the Evo12 Facebook group. Your roommates can really make or break a conference for you, so I was very pleased that everyone was kind and friendly and totally considerate towards each other. We had a terrific time together.
I had to have another shot at Dennissa – talk about uncommonly beautiful. If I hadn’t seen her five children with my own two eyes, I would never have believed that this pretty girl could be the mother to that many children.
Babies were a big hit at EVO’12. Families are always invited for the parties and some of the special suite activities and this year we had a big crop of babies. This little guy Edward was my last year’s roommate in a way. His Mama Ashlee from I’m Topsy Turvy was about 5 months pregnant with him when she was my roommate last year. And look how darn cute he was playing with the materials for our Lowe’s DIY Craft Challenge. Actually, I kind of wussed out on this one. I was feeling intimidated because I was the only non-craft blogger participating, plus I had a headache and was in huge need of a nap, so I ditched the challenge and had a refreshing nap that I badly needed. Sorry guys!
Carly and her new baby next to Summer at one of our keynote speeches.
This is my dear, sweet friend Kathy from Danish Mama. She ended up winning the grand prize of a whole new set of kitchen appliances from our sponsor at Whirlpool and everyone was just thrilled for her. Couldn’t have happened to a nicer girl!
This year, I made a new commitment. In the past, I have always come away with lots of pictures of “things”. Pictures of my room, the sets, the table decor, or large anonymous shots of groups of people. This year, I made a public commitment (on the site’s FB page) that I wanted to get the pictures of people I had always been too embarrassed to ask for. And I did it. I came away with a whole bunch of “people shots” with the people I care about. And I loved it because these are MY people. These are women (well, mostly women) who GET me and love me, and support me in my journey, and that’s what the heart of EVO is all about.
This is me and Rachael – one of the Evo Founders and Organizers. We are posing in front of the Shot@Life posters, which is a cause I met at Evo and plan to get involved with. I have plenty of room in my blog and my life for causes like this. For $20 you can see that a child in Africa gets all the vaccinations they need to prevent them from a lifetime of dire diseases, and I think that is worth talking about it. Stay tuned for more posts on this subject as well as the Global Soap Project, and the Protectors, an anti-bullying initiative. These are all people and cause I would never have met if it hadn’t been for Evo.
Me and Jill – she and the other Jyl handle a lot of the behind the scenes stuff that happens at Evo, and in their spare time, they run a little empire called Mom It Forward. Both of them have been to Africa for a bloggers tour and are trying to change conditions over there. They are totally awesome and Jill and I just clicked when we met last year at another conference. We need to have some time to hang out more because we just have a great time together!
I had to get a picture with my photo teacher Karen Waldron.
OK, I just threw this in because she’s so darn cute! Look at those Jennifer Garner-like dimples! This is Elise from the Family Lab for Inquiry and Play. We had a very interesting hallway discussion, which I love because Evo offers you plenty of opportunities for little encounters like that and you always come away with a greater appreciation for the people you meet.
Oh and did I mention we had a little blackout? In fact, all of Park City was blacked out for about 6 hours, but we didn’t care. We grabbed whatever flashlights, cell phone lights, glow sticks from the hotel, and touch lights from the Lowe’s challenge, and the party went right on as planned.
The hotel had a generator to make sure the door locks and automatic toilets worked (after all, those are totally the most critical things!) and it was just business as usual! In fact, it was probably more fun to have a party in the dark. And the lights came back on the next day so we could all use our hair dryers and curling irons. After all, this WAS a Women’s Conference – gotta have those things!
All in all, it was a terrific weekend and I had a very lovely time with my peeps. I even rode the zipline with my son’s girlfriend at the closing party – (good thing I didn’t hear about someone getting stuck on it right after me!) Made some new friends, picked up some new causes, and came away inspired and re-energized. That’s a good conference in my book!