March 16, 2015

UnConference = UnBelievable

The UnConference was UnBelievable.

Full disclosure: I was and am a believer. I was part of the planning. I was a facilitator. I am an officer of the The Diabetes Collective, Inc... In short, I had high expectations.

This collection of people with diabetes exceeded my hopes, in spades.* 

The magic was the high degree of attention we gave to each other. We  were there, not on our phones. A huge part of success was respect and trust. To keep the resect for other's stories and the trust they invested in me by sharing those stories, I will only share my experiences. I hope others choose to share theirs as well. That is their choice.

I can say, I was moved by the stories shared. I have heard a lot of diabetes stories, none were more moving. I was empowered by the stories I heard, engaged by the trust of sharing them and honored to respond by sharing my story, knowing it was safe to do so. I was even more moved to be allowed to hear, hold, and help. Oh and pass the Kleenex.

Nobody every asked to have diabetes. Nobody. 



It is a disease. In every case, disease.

I was moved by a metaphor I picked up at the UnConference. I will use it, a lot. Diabetes is complex patch work quilt of metabolic diseases. That is true of all diabetes and that makes it an even better mental image.  

Rationally, I know that. I have been a patient reviewer of scientific grants by both PICOR and CDMRP. In my role for them, I was in rooms with a dozen and a half PhD physicians reviewing scores of research proposals. Each looked at a part of the patchwork of health. Those were intense intellectual process - detailed, rational, clear examinations of the finest threads of the various patches of life's quilt. By the nature of science, those are cold processes. 

I felt the warm comfort of the quilt at the UnConference. I was a patch, at teeny piece of cloth, in a multi color mix of parts new and old. Collectively we were so much more than scraps. Together we became a blanket of almost two thousand years of individual experience of living with diabetes. It feels great to be embraced by two millennia of wisdom. It is an UnBelievably good feeling to be able to help old friends, particularly the you just met.

I was trusted to hug, hand hold and say it not your fault. I could draw on those rooms full of PhDs and their microscopic views to say with confidence, this isn't your fault.

It is mix of metabolic diseases and we made a quilt. A warm embracing patchwork that a seemstress makes something amazing from what other may see as scraps.

I look forward seeing other share their experiences and together we will patch together thee UnConference  story. 

*(Obligatory Vegas gaming reference.) 


  1. Wonderful post, Bennet. I am exhausted today and wondering how I will ever describe the experience. I think that you have summed it up perfectly.

  2. Thank Laddie

    I was glorious to see you

    And everyone else.

  3. Bennet, I'm not sure I can say it any better than that. Thanks for being, as usual, a super facilitator. I am very much looking forward to the next Unconference.

  4. It was an honor, sir.

    And I love (and echo) this line - "I felt the warm comfort of the quilt at the UnConference."