We have been gathering faithful film shooters here at our house just south of Cleveland, OH for 3/4s of a year. I came away from my first Bill Schwab northern MI gathering feeling that everything was good about the event except that there wouldn't be another one for twelve months. As people in this thread have suggested, I posted a gathering here last fall, about three months after my second trip to Bill’s, and talked it up on APUG. We had 22 people come for between a day and four days, camping in our back yard or staying at local motels. We rented a porta potty hoping people would share the cost. They did and we used the excess cash for coffee every morning. We met to talk at 9 AM. Some went out to shoot before that. Others slept in. We talked or shot all afternoon and met again at 5 PM. After spending 2.5 hours deciding what we wanted to do for dinner, I arbitrarily picked restaurants from then on. We did show and tell of our work and equipment in the evening and started over the next day.

It was so much fun that many of us met again for fall color in October. That is pretty funny because as the host, I am 85% color blind. We met again in March for combined museum tours of Edward Weston and two Friendlander exhibits in Akron and Cleveland, plus rounds of ethnic food and conversation. We met in May to shoot early in the morning in some rocky ledge area nearby. We are conveniently situated two miles from the third most visited national park, Cuyahoga Valley National Park. The desire to do this for like minded people is regularly bringing 10-22 people an event from three states. There is some shooting, but in my opinion the real draw is for like minded people to talk, share work and ideas with other like minded people.

For those wishing this sort of thing but reluctant to try let me offer these thoughts. This is a second marriage for me and early on I listened to my wife encourage her shy teenage daughter by saying that if you host the party you are always invited. If you host the party you don't have to drive 400 miles one way as I did to bill Schwab's events. If you host the party you don't have to sleep in a tent, something my 69 year old back is not fond of doing. If you host something that your guests really want they make sure no one abuses the system. Prior to the first event someone warned me of people loose in the house, potential for theft, vandalism and mess. I put out trash cans, rented the porta potty, but really made no other effort to secure or protect. After four days with twenty two people wandering about there was not a scrap of paper on the ground, a bottle in the trees, anything broken or missing. This has brought such pleasure to me and apparently to others new to me, that we are trying to do it every other month. If you want something like this, I suggest you start it, tailor it to your environment, interest and means.

John Powers
Happy host of several NE OH gatherings at the Powers’ house.