Back in the early parts of this decade, or the late parts of the last decade (I can't remember which), something wonderful sprung up in the swing dance world. A group of dancers from Chicago decided to visit San Francisco and experience the scene over a long weekend. They were all housed with local folks, shown the town, and basically treated like foreign dignitaries for four days. The Lindy Exchange was born.
Soon after, a group from San Francisco made the trek to Chicago and, from there, the snowball started to roll. People from all over the U.S. wanted to get in on the fun and there was much fun to be had. Soon there was a website and you could choose any number of cities to visit, assured that there would be good music, good dancing, and new friends. Now the phenomenon is worldwide and the top exchanges featured on Lindy Exchange dot com include: Dublin, Edinburgh, San Francisco, Virginia Beach, Cambridge, and Albuquerque. Amazing.
The exchanges have gotten bigger and more elaborate over the years but, in the beginning, the idea was that all you had to pay for would be flight, food and any dance tickets you might need to buy. Housing was taken care of. Transport was taken care of. Sightseeing was taken care of. It was a beautiful act of community service. It didn't revolve around an industry show, there were no classes or workshops. It was just people who shared a passion, hanging out with each other and making new and lasting friendships.
I think the crafting world could definitely take a page from the dancer's playbook on this one. So, who's going to put me up on their couch?