Yesterday was a bit more lively than the first day. Judging from the various scheduled book signings and interviews at the various exhibitors’ booths, the first day, Tuesday, was more of a get-your-bearings day than anything else. Yesterday, Wednesday, business picked up quite a bit, even over on the far side where we are.
That’s not a bad thing. Our message is, admittedly, a trifle more esoteric than is usually the case at such events, and a significant number of people hurry by with their eyes averted, afraid that they might get into a conversation a little deeper than anything they were prepared for with aching feet and hyped up on energy drinks and coffee. And sugar. The donated snacks yesterday were a trifle heavier on the dessert type of edibles than some of us older folk prefer, but very good.
To echo yesterday’s report, we made a significant number of potentially valuable contacts. A number of them were unsure of what we were all about when we started, but became interested as we gave our ten-second presentation, which we’ve been billing as “the fastest presentation at the event.” It’s very easy, and requires only three pieces, 1) the CESJ organizational brochure, 2) the Capital Homesteading flyer, and 3) the Homiletic and Pastoral Review article.
The presentation is very easy to learn, although if you’re getting tired, you might start to trip over your words if you try to talk too fast. First, you have a copy of the CESJ brochure in your hand. If someone doesn’t duck his or her head and hurry away, you say, “Would you like to hear the fastest presentation in the world?” If they get a panic-stricken look on their faces and start edging away muttering something you can’t quite make out, the answer is probably “no.”
If, however, they are halted live in their tracks (we don’t say it the other way around here. . . .), and say, “Sure,” you hand them the CESJ brochure and say, “This is who we are.” Then you quickly hand them the Capital Homesteading brochure and say, “And this is what we’re trying to do.” Then you hand them the HPR article, and say, “And this is how it fits in with Catholic social teaching.” (Obviously a different third piece is needed for non-Catholic events to illustrate how the Just Third Way fits in with the special interest or focus of their group.)
It’s astonishing how well it seems to work. Of course, it could be that they just don’t want to be rude, and toss the papers into the nearest can when they think we’re not looking, but we got into a number of very interesting conversations. One person would hook them, and then bring Dr. Norman G. Kurland in if they wanted anything in greater depth. Evidently the two-man team approach works very well, although the one tossing out the hooks doesn’t get to sit down too often.
All-in-all, however, it seems to be working out pretty well, and we’re glad we were able to come, although it would have been better if we had a “traveling show” all canned and put together that we could just plug in. We noticed the most professional/best-funded groups had very polished set-ups. With the resources to take advantage of such opportunities, they are well-equipped to carry out as routine something that becomes a major project for CESJ, an all-volunteer non-profit think tank with fewer resources than many organizations.
We’ll be closing down today, although the event goes through to tomorrow. We have previous commitments that cannot be postponed, and have to get back to Virginia. On a bright note, we were told by a German sister (from Köln) — who, by the way, was delighted to find people she could look in the eye (she is the tallest member of their Order) — that our six words of German were pronounced with absolute correctness. Of course, we didn’t speak any of our minimal Pennsylvania Dutch, although this is (near) the place for it.
We also have a brief meeting scheduled with Father Frank Pavone today, ten minutes to make our best case. We hope to report success on that tomorrow.