photo of participants on a Zoom call

Zoom, Zoom! Royal City Quilters’ Guild Goes Exclusively Online

Lindsay Core
Autumn 2020

When the announcement was made in Ontario that large gatherings were no longer to take place and that individuals were to implement social distancing because of the pandemic, many of us wondered what that would mean for our guild. The Royal City Quilters’ Guild, in Guelph, Ontario, had met for our monthly meeting on March 10, just days before the province started to shut down. One week later, our executive had its monthly meeting and at the top of the agenda was deciding how to proceed when we couldn’t meet in person.

Unanimously, and enthusiastically, the executive decided that all of our activities would move online. Not one member of the executive expressed any concerns and everyone was excited about the possibilities that the change presented; we looked only at potential solutions and opportunities rather than dwelling on what was being lost. Our hope was that moving online would allow us to continue to build our local quilting community and that we could help ease feelings of isolation for our members. We also imagined that there were opportunities for speakers from further afield to present at our meetings – quilters we would never have been able to invite under normal circumstances due to geography and cost. And so, it was decided that not only would our guild meetings move online, but all Bee Days, workshops, and interest group meetings as well.

photo of Nancy Wells' quilt during the guild's virtual Show and Share

One week later on March 21 – International Quilting Day – we ran our first online event. Originally, a Bee Day run by the guild’s Past Presidents had been planned. Instead, we held a sew-in where members were invited to work on their own projects from home throughout the day. Every hour, for six hours, a question was sent to participants and they were asked to send a photo or type an answer for the chance to win a $50 gift certificate to a local quilt shop. It was fun to see the photos roll in each hour in response to the questions: show us a project you’re stitching by hand; send a photo of a project with blue fabrics; who is working on a UFO today? The last question of the day asked why quilting is important to you. One of our members, Kathy, answered, “Stitching always comes with me wherever I am and it helps me to get grounded, be mindful, focus the thoughts, and CALM DOWN! It keeps me stitched together! Especially needed these days! Thanks for the opportunity to stitch together today and the invitation to share!”

photo of a man wearing a handmade face mask

Since making these changes, we have held our April, May, and June guild meetings via Zoom with between 70-80 members joining us online each time. Our meetings include regular announcements, a speaker or trunk show, member show-and-share, and then some social time at the end to chat and check in with each other. Members have shared that they really appreciate being able to connect, and even though it is different, still find it enjoyable and gives them something to look forward to. The guild meetings are recorded, so if members can’t make the meeting during the scheduled time, they can watch it later.

We have decided that the guild will continue to meet online through to the end of June, 2021, because we wanted to plan for the worst-case scenario and to anticipate not being able to meet in person for quite a while, especially since larger meetings might continue to be restricted. Foremost in our  thoughts were the many members in a higher-risk group who might not feel comfortable attending meetings when restrictions ease. So, even if we can meet again in person in the coming year, we have committed to also streaming all meetings online in order to ensure access for all members.

photo of Dianne Carson's virtual Trunk Show

As the guild executive, we wished to address the grief and isolation that people are feeling right now because they can’t physically connect with friends and family. We decided that although it’s harder to make connections through online meetings it’s still possible to find inspiration from the speakers and workshops, and to find fellowship among our members. We have been thrilled with the response from our membership. Trying something new has had a few hiccups, but we are encouraged by the willingness of RCQG members to embrace technology.

We hope that other guilds across the country have found ways to stay connected with each other. If you would like to see what we’re doing we invite you to get in touch and attend one of our future online meetings. Visit our website or send us an email.

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