In general, nope! Not going back.
Like … Why? Why would we???
Plane travel?? Hotels (at $100+ a night “special” conference rate)??? … I guess some people are feeling rich.
Me, I’m feeling thrifty. Thriftier than ever! Not only with my money but with my time, personal energy, and of course eco-footprint.
The relentless drag-back to in-person conferences is particularly jarring when it comes from organizations dedicated to the environment and/or social justice.
Then again, I’ve had the benefit of having attended many conferences and trainings in the days long before I knew the word “eco footprint.”
And during the pandemic shutdown I attended more virtual conferences than I can even recollect. So many valuable conferences, many of them international! Affordable moneywise and feasible timewise, thanks to Zoom and other telemeeting technologies. (Attending in person would not have been an attractive option for me even if I didn’t care about the footprint. Probably many other freelance / grassroots educators feel similarly.)
Some people and orgs I really respect are going all-in-person, no virtual option. I think this is one of those times I just need to relax and do my own thing and try to avoid feeling too rattled from an eco standpoint. Maybe enough people now are happy “converts” to virtual that things will naturally sort themselves out.
When it comes right down to it, I can’t really claim any high ground or judge someone else just because they happened to have been born later, be at a different point on their path of life-adventuring, etc.
Those of us who call ourselves “environmentalists” and have been around longer, should have been pushing back long ago. Instead, we ourselves helped normalize (for example) world leaders and corporate moguls jetting all over the planet every day instead of picking up a darn phone. This hopping on airplanes at the drop of a hat should not be normal, but by our failure to speak out strongly against it, we the olde guarde “environmental” movement have helped make it normal.
But, all that said, if you share my aversion to going back to the hectic and expensive business-as-usual, just know that you are not alone!
Note: As always, my admonition is directed toward white-centered / white-led institutions here, since we are the ones who created and uphold these systems of consumerism, eco destruction, exclusion, erosion of local community. And we need to lead the dismantling of societal defaults that are harmful to people and planet.