I can’t wipe the grin from my face. I have been waiting six years to be able to share the news that We Move Forward will be held at the Casa de Cultura in Centro, Isla Mujeres! This venue is significant to my original vision of WMF, and I finally have the pleasure of sharing why.
It was back in 2011 that I first envisioned creating WMF, a three day International Women’s Day conference to be held on Isla Mujeres, the Island of Women, Mexico. A short ferry ride from Cancun, Isla is easy to get to and a safe place for women travellers to visit. The conference would be a life changing experience, one that delivered on inspirational talks plus tangible take aways. I needed a venue and began scouting the island for the perfect place to host the conference and retreat.
I came across the Casa de Cultura, and could see that the Municipality was in the process of renovating the existing structure. They had grand plans for its future, as did I. With the help of my team members who spoke much better Spanish than I, a meeting was arranged with the Director of Turismo. He embraced the idea of an International Women’s Day conference being held on “Isla” – it made perfect sense! He was hopeful that the building would be ready for March 2012, and I held onto his hope with a tight grip. But, by December 2011, my grip had begun to slip, and by January 2012 my grasp on reality won over.
You see, in Mexico one can gage the amount of money there is left in a building project by the size of the work crew. On my regular walks along the seaside walkway/malecon that runs the length of the Casa, I began to notice fewer and fewer workers on site. I will never forget the day that I saw two men with chisels and hammers chipping away at a large concrete wall. I reluctantly requested another meeting with the Director of Turismo. I learned that the Municipality was waiting on federal government pesos to finish the Casa de Cultura, and that “it would be best to find another location.” Fast (that is my word, and it was running through my mind every minuto.)
As those of you who have attended WMF know, I held WMF for five consecutive years at the Avalon Hotel, which became the MIA Hotel in 2015. When it was the Avalon, it was a 3-star hotel, and under MIA ownership it became a 5-star establishment. With the improvements came significant increases in costs. To host WMF at the MIA in 2018 would mean doubling the registration fee, which would exclude many women from being able to afford the event. This was not an option for me, as increasing the cost to participate collided with the purpose of the conference – to make inspiration accessible to women of all ages, wages and stages of life.
In the spring of 2017, I found myself in the familiar territory of driving my moto around Isla looking for a space to host WMF. And low and behold, there was the newly painted and renovated Casa de Cultura. Conveniently situated in the heart of town and alongside the Caribbean ocean, the Casa now has a large meeting room that can easily accommodate 150 plus women, and break-out rooms that are perfect for mindful movement sessions and workshops. The washroom facilities are excellent, and the staff extremely welcoming and excited to host We Move Forward.
The picture you see above is the view from the new WMF conference room. That’s me and my business partner and friend, Jen, the day we reserved the venue for March 8, 9, 10 and 11, 2018.
What excites me most about WMF 2018 is knowing that good spirited women will once again gather on Isla Mujeres to celebrate International Women’s Day, form community and friendships, share stories, learn, laugh and have a life changing experience.
Stay tuned, and very soon you will hear more about what we have in store.
Janeen Halliwell, Founder, We Move Forward