I often end phone conversations and emails with the phrase, “See you soon!” Some would say I over use it. Sometimes I’ve caught myself saying, “See you soon,” to a friend or colleague even when we have no plans to reconnect.
In the past year, I’ve attempted to say it even less because, as has so often painfully been the truth of it – we have not been able to “see” each other in the flesh. “Seeing” someone has been reduced to the process of engaging with them over video conference software; a better alternative than nothing – but not remotely the same experience either.
If you are reading this now, I want you to know we’ve missed you. Our staff team has been particularly challenged in how we pursue our mission of community efforts and convening, when the very act of getting together is a risk to the community we serve in most circumstances. For the past thirteen months, every chamber in the nation has been faced with the central question, “How do organizations ‘build community’ when you cannot commune with your investors and leaders.” It’s been a challenge for us too.
Which is why I’m so glad to be writing this message to the community now. Beginning in June we will resume meeting in person for nearly all our events and activities. We will not simply resume doing everything the same as before coronavirus, but we will be making plans under the assumption that we can gather in person. Please know, that the safety of our team, our community, and guests will continue to be a focus. Our return to in-person events will continue implementing remote options and safety precautions.
I anticipate many of you will have questions. Here’s a few Q’s and A’s we’ve already received and responded to.
Q: Why June?
A: The president and the CDC set the goal that every American who chooses to will have had the opportunity to be vaccinated by the end of May.
Q: My business still won’t be comfortable with attending events in person or sponsoring events. How can I participate?
A: First, we understand and respect that some businesses (for very understandable reasons) ask their team members not to gather in person and some individuals will still feel uncomfortable in person at group activities, or just not want to fight the traffic. Further, some companies have chosen to not sponsor in-person activities. We respect all of those prerogatives and understand that we cannot serve everyone in the same way.
With this in mind, for nearly all chamber activities, there will be a remote option for participation. It may be as simple as watching a speaker via a laptop on the podium. Some content may be recorded and made available after the fact.
Note: We have learned the hard way that there are a very few programs of the chamber we cannot replicate in a virtual environment.
Q: What about masks, food, or social distancing?
A: Please plan to continue to wear a mask at all indoor activities of the chamber if you cannot distance by six feet or more, even after the City of Round Rock ordinance sunsets this week. Even for those who have been vaccinated, the CDC still recommends mask wearing. I know this is a frustration and a hassle, but it is a simple and minor precaution that will enable our friends and neighbors to feel protected. Likewise, we ask everyone to continue to social distance and will only hold events in venues large enough to make this possible.
Our food service at chamber events used to frequently be served buffet style. I miss hanging out by the cheese and meatball platter chatting with our guests, but those days will not return for some time. In the coming months, food service will be limited to either individually packaged items (think wrapped sandwiches) or served meals.
As you can see, while we may be resuming meeting in person, we are also not “returning to normal” for some time.
Thank you for remaining connected and involved in the Round Rock Chamber. We feel so very fortunate to have program investors that continued to see the value in what we do, even if we could not see each other.
Please keep an eye on our events calendar. See you soon!