[Frequently Asked Questions]

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Why does the Gathering lose money each time?
A main priority for OLOC’s National Gatherings is to provide physical and financial accessibility for Old Lesbians, and we go out of our way—and often over budget—to provide it. We deliver financial aid to those who request it, so that every Old Lesbian who wants to attend can afford to. (Approximately 25% of attendees received financial aid for travel, hotel, and/or registration for last year’s Gathering.) We include, as needed, scooters, wheelchairs, accessible rooms, CART (Communication Access Real-time Translation—the big screens with captioning of full-group activities), ASL (American Sign Language) interpretation, and Braille materials. We also award money to our Del Martin winners. We are able to do this because of the generosity of so many. 


Why not wait to provide to those in need until we know how much money we are going to have?
We have to plan ahead no matter how many end up coming, and we don’t know final attendance, therefore our financial outcome, until the event begins.


Why can’t those who receive financial assistance agree to work for four hours at the Gathering? 
It’s a class issue. We do not want to penalize poor women. All womyn are expected to do workshifts at many other events, regardless of how much or how little of the full fee they pay.


Why do we provide all that free food and drink in the hospitality room?
To help women have something to eat who can’t afford to pay to eat out in restaurants. 


Why not ask local restaurants to provide food for the hospitality room?
We do ask them and sometimes have good results, sometimes not. It depends on whether or not we have Lesbians living in the community where the event will be held who are good at soliciting things like this and are willing to do it. If that describes you, please let us know!


Why not get coupons from local restaurants to give everyone instead of providing food ourselves?
We do this as much as possible and also encourage local women to solicit coupons, ads, and sponsors.


Why do we have both ASL interpretation and CART (Communication Access Real-time Translation)?
Many of us have age-related hearing issues and most of us don’t know ASL, the primary language of many who are deaf from early in life. Both ASL interpretation and CART are provided, which help everyone understand the plenary proceedings bette


Why not just provide CART (Communication Access Real-time Translation) and skip ASL (American Sign Language) interpretation?
We want to strengthen ties with Lesbians in the deaf and HOH communities, some of whom use ASL and either prefer it to CART or are unable to read CART. We also want all of us who are hard-of-hearing to any degree to have CART available to us.


Why don’t the ones who want ASL interpretation just pay for it themselves?
It is not our policy to penalize women with a disability by asking them to pay extra for what others enjoy for free.


Are we going to add language interpretation?
We would love to have the program translated and sessions interpreted into Spanish and will explore having an interpreter for future Gathering events. If you’d like to initiate a special fund for this service, we encourage you to do so.


Why doesn’t the OLOC Steering Committee use Skype or FaceTime for meetings to cut out airfares and save on expenses?
We meet twice a year for three or four days at the site of our next Gathering, where we can get a good sense of the hotel; check out resources in the neighborhood; and solicit coupons, ads, and sponsors from local restaurants and other places of possible interest to attendees. During these meetings, we make personal connections, meet with Old Lesbians from the local community who are interested, and recruit local volunteers. Some SC members reimburse OLOC for their meals at these times. In addition, there is frequent regular (every day) year-round copious email communication within the group.

We have tried to use both audio and visual technology. It does not always work well, and some of us don’t have easy access to it where we live. We do conduct monthly conference calls in addition to our two annual in-person meetings. Phone conferences are less focused and efficient than in-person meetings due to the fact that we cannot see or hear each other as well. Some like the idea, but we just are not able to do FaceTime or Skype with the current technology.


Why use an expensive hotel for the Gatherings?
Our guidelines are to offer the cheapest possible accessible space to accommodate the number of expected attendees. We also want: 

  • Shuttle service to and from a major airport
  • A large space for plenary sessions, enough rooms for workshops and caucuses, and a Hospitality Suite
  • Facilities to cater the most meals at the cheapest price 

Our Operations Coordinator, Ruth Debra, 1944, spends many, many hours negotiating with hotels for the best deals.