The following is based on an email I sent to the main organizer of the 2015 RTR.
First of all, I really enjoyed the RTR. I think it was a good blend of structured activities and free time. (I tend to need a lot of alone time and was happy that I had plenty of room for that, while people who wanted/needed to be social could get their needs met as well.) I learned a lot from the seminars I attended, and I’m truly grateful to everyone who shared knowledge.
The group meals were nice. The food was good, and group aspect gave me some structure for socializing.
The best part of the RTR for me was meeting cool people, closely followed by the haircut service. Well, maybe the give-away pile was my second favorite part of the gathering, but it’s in a close race with the haircuts. In any case, I was glad to be able to give to and take from the free pile. Gift economy rocks!
The biggest, happiest surprise for me at the gathering was finding other single women who travel alone. I had been afraid the RTR was going to be a bit of a dude fest, but I was pleased to meet so many other single women living on the road.
Now for my concerns. (There are only two.)
There sure were a lot of dogs running around off leash. I personally was peed on twice while sitting at a morning seminar. Two dogs on two different days casually peed on my chair while I was sitting in it and ended up peeing on me too. Not cool! Also, I found dog poop in my camp, and saw it throughout the area where the RTR was held. I don’t think dog owners were walking with their dogs and failing to clean up after them. I think dogs were running free and pooped and peed wherever they liked. Actually, I KNOW plenty of dogs were running free because I saw them, and I saw the poop they left behind.
I’m neither allergic to nor particularly scared of dogs. However, for anyone who is allergic to or scared of dogs, the RTR would not have seemed like a welcoming place.
I think there should be an expectation at the RTR that dog owners need to keep their dogs close and know where their dogs are peeing and pooping. Perhaps dog owners need reminders that not everyone wants some dog’s head in their lap or eating out of their bowl when they look away to talk to a neighbor.
My second concern is that of people taking photos of other people and people’s rigs without permission and posting those photos anywhere on the Internet. (I am concerned with the taking of photos without permission, whether or not they are posted on the internet.)
I believe taking and/or posting photos without permission is inappropriate. I think the issue needs to be addressed at the welcome seminar and every morning at announcements (for the benefit of folks who did not attend the welcome meeting).
I made the mistake of thinking that everyone at the RTR was on the same page concerning security and privacy. Obviously, I was wrong, or I would not be writing about it now. If I had realized that some folks believe that because I am at the RTR, I have no expectation of privacy, I would have addressed the issue early on, or I would have not attended the gathering.
Of course, some people don’t mind if photos of them are taken and posted on the internet from here to Christmas. I think photographers should take lots of photos of those people! A suggestion was made at the women’s meeting that people who do NOT want their photo taken be provided with a colored sticker they could wear. It would be the responsibility of photographers to check for stickers before shooting photos.
I do not believe that being at the RTR means I am agreeing to give up my right to privacy. I believe no one should take a photo of me or anything I own without my verbal permission. I believe anyone wanting to post photos (on the internet or anywhere) of me or my belongings or any information that identifies me should have my verbal permission before doing so. I think everyone at the RTR should have this same expectation of privacy.
All in all, I had a good time at the RTR, and I’ve been encouraging friends to attend next year.
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