Virtual Assembly 1.1
By Dr. Joel Zaritsky
Assembly V1.1 is the first virtual assembly of The Society of American Magicians; you can attend every month from the comfort of your home! Back in October 2015, the regional vice-presidents had an online meeting and a question arose: How do we give those Society of American Magicians members who aren’t near an assembly the opportunity to get together on a monthly basis? Dick Bowman (now president-elect) and Steven Finkelstein, both part of the S.A.M. Future Committee, conducted a study of the members. Over forty-five percent of the members do not belong to an assembly, mostly due to distance, lack of transportation, or an inability to attend. How could we reach out to all these people to allow them to feel part of the Society? It was imperative that each and every member felt a sense of belonging. One of the main requests from the members was leveraging technology with online seminars, video conferences, and virtual meetings. As Abraham Lincoln said, “The best way to predict the future is to create it!”
Sometimes true magic occurs and fate brings people together. In November 2015 the national council met in Nashville, Tennessee. President David Bowers had heard of the desire to fabricate an online assembly presence, and he had a surprise for all of us. Several weeks earlier, he had received an email from John Midgley, a supervisor for the Mobile Crisis Response Team (emergency psychiatric intervention) in his area and an S.A.M. member; he was interested in creating a virtual assembly. He had already created a platform called Magibook, where magicians could get together online and view videos. Amazingly, John is from Murfreesboro, Tennessee, just a short hop from Nashville. On November 13, 2015, John drove to the hotel where the national council meeting was being held and met me, the North Atlantic Regional Vice-President. The two of us sat down and began developing the vision for Assembly V1.1.