Fall Newsletter 2021 – Recap

Dear Friends,

Welcome to this year’s edition of our newsletter, the Postcard from Swannanoa.

In 2021, with the recovery from the coronavirus stalling, and a resurgeance of the new Delta variant in the spring, we were forced to pivot from our planned in-person workshops to an online slate of live-streamed classes that we called SGOnline, staffed by many of the instructors we had lined up for the summer. 

Unlike our usual workshops, where everyone is together here on the Warren Wilson College campus, we knew we’d have students logging in from many different locations and time zones, so to make it as easy as possible on everyone, we shortened our classes by 15 minutes and compressed our usual schedule, so those students and staff west of us wouldn’t have to get up ridiculously early to make a class, and those east of us in Europe wouldn’t have to stay up too late. We started the class day at 11 am, had brief intervals between classes for lunch and breaks, and ended the day’s instruction at 4 pm. All class sessions were recorded and kept available to the students in those classes for an additional four weeks so they might revisit and review their lessons. Each evening, different staff members would lead an hour-long online ‘session’ where attendees might socialize and share songs & tunes. 

We’d never done anything like this before, and were flying by the seat of our pants for much of the time, but with the help of our tech-savvy Operations Manager Kimberly Ann Clark, our outstanding instructors, and many loyal Gathering attendees, we managed to pull it off. 

We were hoping we’d attract 350-400 students to cover the costs of our grand ‘Zoom experiment’. Our final total was 451, and to all those folks who took a chance on SGOnline we offer our most sincere thanks.

We’re pleased and excited to announce that next summer’s workshops will be held in-person, when we will celebrate the Swannanoa Gathering’s 30th Anniversary. In order to stage an event that is safe and healthy for everyone, we will require that all attendees – students, staff and instructors – provide documentation, validated with a photo ID, that they are fully-vaccinated against COVID-19. By next summer ‘fully-vaccinated’ may also include a booster. Look for more information in our spring catalog.

Check out the “Coming Next Summer” section for a sneak preview of what we have planned for 2021.