I spent last weekend at Breakout, an annual gathering of activists and entrepreneurs who gather in a new city and explore it together.
Some may call it a summit. For me, it’s like a family reunion. I’ve made some of my closest friends through these trips.
I wore this outfit for the first day at Breakout, which we largely spent at the W Midtown in Atlanta. Jeans and a t-shirt is always a good bet, and I threw on my new kimono in the aggressively air-conditioned rooms. All in all – a perfect outfit for the day.
12:15 p.m – my aunt and uncle drop me off at the hotel, and I immediately run into my friend Stephen at reception. Both of us are captains and arrived early for the lunch. Both of us are, incidentally, already starving. We get our keys and head up to our respective rooms to drop off luggage.
1:45 p.m – the captain’s lunch is underway. After eating two plates of salad and catching up with more friends, we get the details of our weekend and powwow with our co-captains. Darrah is mine, and we review the day’s agenda. She heads off to the Ron Clark Academy while I search for more food.
3:00 p.m – there’s a legit food court in the building attached to our hotel, one that also happens to own a Chik-Fil-A. I order two nugget meals (one for me, and one for Anoop) and we eat while waiting for his barbershop appointment. I’m going to request a blowout bar for the next Breakout – why do guys get all the fun?
5:00 p.m – after reconvening to my room and getting some work done, I set up everything for our first small group session. My room (a huge suite) serves a double duty, and Darrah and I set chairs out and put out water as we wait for our group. We also get a head start on snapping some silly pictures of each other with the room’s mural.
6:45 p.m – our team is solid. We have news producers, digital creatives, executive directors of nonprofits, poets, and more. These small groups are my favorite part of the trip – it’s a chance to really get to know one another. After going through the requisite icebreakers, we head to the top floor for our first activity. We walk through a balloon-filled gallery in total silence, selecting the pictures that speak to us. We gather back in the room and talk about the pictures and why they’re significant to us. We also come up with our group name and talk about the next day before heading down to dinner.
8:45 p.m – I’m a table lead at one of the post-dinner activities. We hear from Eryn Erickson, the founder of So Worth Loving, and move into a small group discussion on gender identity. We talk about the toys we had (or didn’t have) as children and how we date, and how gender identity influenced it. I could have sat with my group for another hour to chat, but we make our way downstairs and head to our first big group event.
10:00 p.m – you’d think the first night of a big summit like this would call for a party. Instead, we file into the Fox Theater and sit down to serene, meditative sounds. We’re at The Big Quiet, a huge meditation event that’s just expanded out of New York. Over the course of the next hour, we listen to beautiful music, experience a sound bath, and do a group 20-minute meditation. I’ve never done anything like this. As is the norm at a Breakout weekend.
1:00 a.m – while some people head to bed, I rally at the sight of candy and soft pretzels and head to the Audrie + Daisy discussion. A group of us settle into bean bags and beds on the top floor of the hotel and watch the power trailer of the documentary, which details the journeys of two young women as they search for justice after being sexually assaulted. It’s a powerful discussion, led by Wendy of I Am That Girl. And it made me think a lot about how to raise Rho to be a strong, respectful boy and man. I stay behind to chat with Shael, safebae‘s executive director and fellow mom, on this very topic. .
3:00 a.m – I’m back in my room, and raided the mini bar for chips and a giant bottle of water. My neighbors are still raging, so I fire up an episode of Riverdale to try and drown out the noise. Once I hear the music stop, I shut down my computer and turn off the light. Sleep…sweet sweet sleep. It’s going to be a busy day tomorrow.
P.P.S – if you’re interested in joining Breakout, e-mail me!