Graham again: I'm glad to report that my own initial appraisal of the conference was more cautious (negative?!) than any others we have received so far! It seems most delegates were more than happy with the way it turned out overall, so I am very happy to revise my first over-critical verdict... IT WAS GREAT!
Here for your interest are some sample quotations from the feedback we've received so far, and of course I now have all these lovely and generous tributes framed on the wall in front of my desk, in case I need reminding!! Many thanks to any who I have failed to thank personally - and don't forget there is also a quick questionnaire on line at the new 'Connect' section of the conference website. (Please keep your answers to the point, as I can't read more than the first few dozen characters in each field! If you would like to send a longer comment then please use Conference@IrishDolphins.com)
"Overall, the conference provided an excellent starting point for future discussions. Keith and Graham, you both did a tremendous job, and many of us are very grateful. "
"I am very inspired from the conference and really loved my time in Ireland!! "
"I loved the informal approach to this conference. Too many cetacean related conferences/seminars are totally science orientated it was good to have input from ALL who have had experience with social cetaceans - no matter which level that is at. "
"I would just like to say thankyou for organising such a great conference. Yes, things were fraught at times, but I firmly believe that some progress was made between many of the people with differing views. Well done for what you achieved."
"I personally am a changed person. I came to the conference with an open mind, but with limited experience in regard to solitary dolphins. I am now able to understand that swimming with dolphins, in some circumstances, is mutually beneficial to both dolphin and human."
"Just wanted to thank you for putting on such a fantastic conference. You both seem born to it! I think it was really great timing and was necessary to bring such good people together which can only be beneficial to the dolphins and whales."
"For me, I did plenty of connecting, communicating and exploring - plenty of it was outside of the conference room, but I find that is always the way of conferences, where time allows. "
"In the end, at the party, it really was gratifying to see certain heads talking together politely and lucidly and listening to the others. I wish I could have stayed longer.... "
"It remains my hope that the lines between 'opponents' can be further blurred or largely erased, by continuing to communicate, share and expand our understanding through whatever means. "
"For me, most of the 'exploration' came outside of the conference room, but it was certainly there. Also, it seems we are rapidly learning some of the key points for discussion for next time - and I'm jolly happy to hear you talk of a next time!!!! Hoorah!!! "
"I concur with just about everything you said, and would similarly rate the connect, communicate and explore goals in that order of relative success.
Personally, I felt that I was able to do all three - I connected with friends old and new, I communicated a great deal ..... and I explored my own take on sociable cetacea in the light of what others said (and didn't say) and the wide spectrum of views that many seemed willing to share. While I recognise that external and communal exploration was perhaps what you had in mind when developing that tag-line, the fact that this led to some internal exploring (and I'm sure you've done a great deal of that yourself) is no bad thing."
"The overall sense I have from the conference, though, is of gratitude to you and Keith for the immeasurable amount of unpaid, behind-the-scenes work that is far in excess of anything that any delegate can easily appreciate. It was absolutely a worthwhile and very brave venture that paid off, and even if it reminded us of our un-delphinic imperfections then it achieved an important benchmark from which future events can develop."
"Thanks ...for creating the whole project and facilitating such an insightful and inspiring conference. "
"I...just want to thank both you and Keith so much. As well as having the extreme privilege of being able to spend time with such a range of fascinating, intelligent and kind hearted people, I have more than enough to keep my brain ticking over for a long time. A sense of having been part of something very special makes me feel very proud, although I personally didn't contribute as much as I should have ...... On top of the social and 'food for thought' factors, the location was absolutely perfect, and I feel incredibly refreshed. Everyone seems to be keeping in touch, so a real network of like-minded people has been set in motion. So.. thank you again for your months of preparation, and ultimately for a week of unforgettable experiences - to the double-act of 2008!"
"I believe that the communication was not so bad and I believe that this is also thanks to you, because you were aware of potential resistance from the beginning and dealt well with it!"
"How can we thank you enough for such a wonderful experience? We've met with so many people from so many different backgrounds,and it certainly broadened my views! Graham and Keith have put so much into the conference and it showed. THANK YOU both very, very much. "
"Nothing seems lost to me and the results of the conference are positive to me. Thank you to both of you for having organized this happening. I felt it was a first step to something new, or at least, it could develop into something new.... !"