Little Rock, Big Heart
On Friday, January 23rd at 5:30am, I started a trek to Little Rock, Arkansas, the host site of the YNPN National Conference. After two planes and a coffee at Chicago O’Hare, I landed in Little Rock at 10:30am.
The minute I touched down and headed downtown, I felt the energy of the South hit me: an air of ease and comfort, but a community that was bustling with excitement to show itself off to a visitor from the Midwest. I could write more and more about this, but as Jack Skellington says in The Nightmare Before Christmas, let me show you.
I’m an airport nerd. What can I say? I’m a sucker for airport codes. If you choose to fly to Little Rock, the airport is nice and quaint. The conference site will be in downtown Little Rock, so catch an Uber or a shuttle downtown and you’ll be there lickity split (it’s about a 15 minute drive).
Because this is the south, when it came to food I was not disappointed. We ate lunch at the River Market, which is like a central food court downtown. We ate at a fantastic soul food place that included fried chicken, catfish, and jalapeño cornbread (you heard me right–jalapeño cornbread). The market is only a few steps away from our conference hotel (more information on that coming soon). What we learned on this excursion is that there’s a multitude of restaurants that you will have to take advantage of while you are here!
While food and drink are wonderful in Little Rock, there is also an incredibly rich history and culture within the city. One of the more sobering moments for me personally was going to the state capitol to see the statue that pays homage to the Little Rock Nine.
Imagine if today you were picked to do something that no one else wanted to do. Not even adults. And you’re only in elementary school. The bravery of these nine African Americans students and the path they forged during the civil rights movement is the legacy and the space that we will occupy during the conference. As young professionals we are the ones who will walk through unprecedented doors in the non-profit sector. Little Rock is the perfect place to reflect on this ideal.
Flip charts and index cards? Must be a planning session! On Saturday, Trish and I were led through a vision planning session for #ynpn15. Members of the YNPN Little Rock chapter as well as members of the community spent 4 hours with us on Saturday to help envision this year’s conference. The man with the plan in the center is Russell Carey, who is the local coordinator in Little Rock. As Trish mentioned on Instagram, our flip chart game was on fleek!
Go team go! YNPN works because of the phenomenal people in the network. And this group of people gave fantastic input into the vision of the conference.
I can’t take credit for the title of the blog, as I stole this from Trish. But I think it sums up what I anticipate you will get out of the conference. Little Rock is a great location for us to bring all of our network’s leaders: a growing city with a big heart and a big impact impact on the nonprofit sector.
Based on our experience during this site visit, you will leave Little Rock filled, entranced, and ready for action. Stay tuned for more information and save the date: August 6 – 8!