Thursday, April 10, 2008

Seeds of Compassion, Day 1: Part of the Press

I'm in! I'm press credentialed for the Seeds of Compassion event! I was even able to talk them into letting me add another event on Monday.

This afternoon (with my kids safe in the hands of our kind neighbor) I headed downtown to pick up my press credentials and attended the press review session.

Let me just pause for a moment to say how amazing this was for me! There is something really fabulous about being able to sit there elbow to elbow with 30-40 media folks chattering away about current news stories that they are working on or concepts for future ones - as if they were just hanging out discussing last night's game. I distinctly recall one moment when I was sitting there surrounded by everyone and thought to myself, "This is just sooooo cool!"

At the back of the room were cameras lined up atop a raised area in the floor and in the front row were casually dressed photographers with professional cameras in hand. Throughout were people milling around, taking notes, filming and more. Clearly some were important in the media but I wasn't sure who they were. And the funniest was that as far as they knew, I was important as well. Note that dressing well in Seattle doesn't really mean anything - you need to be prepared for the shabbily-dressed person you are talking with to be a millionaire living next to Bill Gates or the mastermind behind the biggest TV station in town! Thus someone like me has the potential to be the Editor-in-Chief of some big publishing house. HAH!

At one point a door from the side of the room opened and in came the organizers of the event: Venerable Lama Tenzin Dhonden (Co-Founder, Seeds of Compassion), Daniel Kranzler (President, Kirlin Charitable Foundation and Co-Founder, Seeds of Compassion), Raj Manhas (Executive Director, Seeds of Compassion), William Bell (President and CEO of Casey Family Programs), John Vadino (Executive Producer, Seeds of Compassion), Andrew Meltzoff (Co-Director, University of Washington Institute for Learning and Brain Sciences) and Pamela Eakes (Communications Director of Seeds of Compassion).

Remember this wasn't a press conference, this was a media preview (getting the media ready for the 5-day event) so it wasn't as crazy as it would have been had it been a press conference.

As each speaker took their turn at the podium and introduced a segment of the Seeds of Compassion event, cameras went off like wild and photographers carefully made their way back and forth across the room. After the speakers were done, the press asked questions about the logistics of the event: they wanted to know if there definitely will be a press conference with the Dalai Lama (the answer was, "It is being planned."), what kind of live feed would be provided for those filming the event, whether there would be wifi for their laptops, how far away from the Dalai Lama the press would be for certain events (we'll be located at the 50 yard line for one event in the football stadium). Before I knew it, I found myself thinking of all of the things I should bring the next day, especially my little hand-held video camera for interviewing the public (I heard another press person say how they wanted to "get into the audience for some interviews"). Sure, they may have their big, fancy, professional cameras. I'll just work on the lower end of the budget range and put my stuff on and YouTube! Nothing wrong with that!

Speaking of equipment, once the speakers were at the podium, I quickly realized the limitations of my Nikon D80 as well as the limitations of my photographic knowledge: The room was too dark for my camera (at least on the settings I had it) to capture the speakers yet the flash was not strong enough to illuminate them. However, the photographer next to me (and the majority of other photographers) had no trouble capturing fabulous photos without a flash. Grrr. I must speak with my husband tonight to get a quick rundown on how to adjust the settings. I did notice a few guys sizing me up based on my camera - I don't think I really made the press photographer grade (which I'm ok with).

The intention of the Seeds of Compassion event is truly inspirational... I will write about it in the next blog entry. I will say that it is all about families and kids and exactly what multicultural and multilingual families around the world are already striving for!

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