A few thoughts on the Gathering vote process and Gathering near/far from ESA:
re: Vote Process
It's ironic that the only way this Internet-based
community can vote on location for the next Gathering is by being in real-life physical attendance
at the current Gathering.
I do get it that there's one type of fairness in the "if you want to vote on next year's, you have to attend this year's final day banquet". That lets the participants who are fully committed to the current year's Gathering, and thus perhaps have the most commitment to ongoing Gatherings, have the say.
But there's also an inherent unfairness to that: it disenfranchises all the people who couldn't attend that particular
Gathering, all the way through to the end. In some cases, those might be ESA people who, like myself, did come to the first day or two of the Gathering but couldn't afford the extra time off for the full length of ESA+Gathering. So I wasn't around for the banquet. In other cases, those people might be other active members of the EpicSki community who couldn't afford time or money to make a trip to a particular Gathering but would like to vote for a future Gathering to be somewhere that they could attend.
Perhaps there's a blend of approaches that could improve this process? Obviously no voting method is optimum from every individual's different perceptions and needs. But we are an Internet-based community that has happily (except on occassional cat-tracks) spilled over into Real Life in a number of ways. I thus think the decisions of the "Tribe" should take into consideration both the on-line and RL aspects of the community.
Option 1. Maybe leading up to the current Gathering, a (flawed) poll or discussion thread could be posted online for the community to make nominations of several (4-6?) locations. Then the attendees at the current Gathering would make the final decision among the nominations.
Option 2. Flip the above: Have the attendees at the current Gathering come up with 4 to 6 nominated locations. Then put it to a vote/poll of the online community.
re: ESA Proximity to Gathering:
I can see the arguements either way.
Just as online here at the forum, the members interested in ESA-style instruction and those interested in just good skiing fun with Bears overlap, but are not identical. That's one of the things I like about getting to at least a day or two at the Gathering - meeting and skiing with some other Bears who might not hang out on the forum in the same places I do. A chance for the Instruction geeks to meet the gear geeks to meet the "it's just skiing" gang and have a blast.
However, I think having the Gathering within one day's drive/very cheap flight of the ESA, and at a time just following or preceding it, is a very good idea. Many of our non-NorthAmerican Bears on a budget can make one trip out of it economically, as can East Coast Bears looking to save $ can make this their one "big trip" out West.
Also - it's my recollection (and I know this has been viewed differently by some) that a big impetus for the original 2003 ESA was "hey all you EpicSki coachs - is there any way we can ski with you and get some tips while we're out at the Gathering in Alta?" Although the ESA coaching roster has now changed to become a mix between Epic contributors and non-contributing "stars", and the flavor and marketing of it has become more of "just one more commercial specialized ski camp" there's still a special, grass-roots-influenced feel to ESA.
I think part of my desire to keep some temporal/spatial/community link between ESA and the Gathering is as much my hope that ESA doesn't go too much further over the edge to being just another ski camp, as it is convenience. Having an overlapping gang of non-ESA-attendees from Epic skiing around the same mountains and times creates a community synergy, and keeps at least a bit of that original grass-roots feel of ESA.
Just some thoughts - apologies for going on at length but I'm sitting here inside on a bluebird day unable to ski or teach today from being sick. Blah! If you can't ski today, talk about skiing!
BTW - props to Powdigger, Spindrift and all the other folks who have done the cat-herding all these times to get these Gatherings together! It was a blast skiing with you at DV a week ago for the day LM and I were there. Hope we can make the next one!
Oh yeah one more thing: I do like the idea of at least every few Gatherings being in Canada rather than the US. I had a blast at the Fernie Gathering and we used it as an excuse to do some other ski days out of Banff. I know the Academy might have work visa or other legal complications to do it in Canada, but there are still relatively close cross-border options. How about some time having ESA at Big Mountain/Whitefish, with a Gathering returning to Fernie? Or a PNW cross-border gettogether at one of the WA area for the Academy and Whistler for the Gathering?