Spring is here! UTC is once again in meetings mode—and I couldn’t be more excited.
That’s right, we’ve just recently opened registration for the first in-person annual Telecom & Technology Conference since June 2019. This year’s T&T is scheduled for Aug. 23-27, 2021, in Portland, Oregon. Our agenda is still coming together, but you can get the latest info and updates from our website at www.utctelecom.org.
Having just attended the Utilities Technology Forum (UTF) event last month in Reno, Nevada, I can tell you there’s an energy that I haven’t felt since COVID first hit last March year. Personally, I was apprehensive about traveling and I know a number of our attendees and staff were as well. But when we all got together and started connecting again, it was truly a special feeling. For many of us, this was the first time we’ve been on a plane in more than a year and our first time away from our families and loved ones in some time. I was very fortunate that the loving CEO of the Riggs Corporation, my husband, accompanied me to Reno and removed most of my travel anxiety. It was the first time away from our three daughters. Technology kept us in touch and before we knew it, we were back home. Several members traveled with their family members, and I hope to see more families traveling together to attend UTC events.
Despite my worries, when we all got settled into the venue hotel for our reception and the event itself, I felt my spirits soar. Perhaps it was the relief of getting out and about for the first time in a long time. Perhaps it was knowing that UTC’s Meetings & Membership Department implemented the strictest protocols to keep us safe and healthy. Or maybe just knowing that we may have turned the corner in this pandemic and that in-person meetings are in fact possible.
While it was indeed all of these things, I know in my heart it was just the opportunity to get together again. We could see each other’s faces in person, not via a computer screen. No one was on mute! No one’s signal froze up. We were real, live, together. And I can’t wait to do it again this August in Portland.
Let’s be honest—our world has been through more trauma and change than most of us have ever experience. In the US alone, more than 500,000 souls have lost their lives—and many of us knew a loved one or friend, or loved one’s friend, who perished from the disease. Add into that the quarantines and stay-at-home orders, along with civil unrest, natural disasters, an economic downturn, and a new Administration—many if not all of us are suffering in some way, shape, or form.
I believe all this time alone or with only our immediate family has made these tensions in our world even stronger. Portland itself has experienced its own civil unrest, and I am fully aware of the concerns from some of our attendees about joining us this summer in the City of Roses. I understand and respect these concerns, but as someone who believes UTC is at its best when we are all together, I see Portland as the most logical location for our first meeting back.
In a way, Portland is symbolic of us. It is a wonderful city, with a wonderful climate in a beautiful setting. Yet it has also been the location for some of the heaviest civil disturbances since George Floyd’s death. In a way, Portland is a metaphor for our country. We are beautiful people, coming from all walks of life. But we’ve been tested and divided like never before this past year. This is why I am excited about going to Portland this summer. When we all can get out and see each other again, we can begin putting this time in the rearview.
This is an opportunity for UTC to do what UTC does best: bring people together. I hope you will join me in Portland this summer.