D.C. Area Resident Celebrates Birthday With A Conference | WAMU 88.5 - American University Radio

WAMU 88.5 : News

D.C. Area Resident Celebrates Birthday With A Conference

Play associated audio
Emily Goodstein is celebrating her 30th birthday with a conference.
Emily Berman
Emily Goodstein is celebrating her 30th birthday with a conference.

Emily Goodstein has always been known for throwing great parties. When she was in fifth grade, her parents hired a jeweler to teach her and her friends how to make their own beads. Then, there was the year she and some girlfriends got dressed in their finest and held a tea party. In her 20s, she'd organize huge potluck picnics or throw an '80s-themed dance party, or hire a chef to teach a group how to make a new cuisine. These were good ideas. But for her 30th birthday, she'd need something great.

"I feel like, you only turn 30 once, and I wanted to make sure it was worthwhile," she says.

The idea came to Goodstein in a flash. She loves conferences; she has a lot of hobbies that her friends are always asking about, so why not create a place for all of her friends to gather, and choose activities they think are fun?

"I'm sure that everyone thought I was kidding, and people thought it was this weird idea," she says. "But I decided to go for it, and I don't do things halfway... Go big or go home, right?"

Planning conference activities

Goodstein met with event planner Ilana Knobel at a café in Dupont Circle. She proposed her birthday conference idea.

"At first, it was a crazy idea, but it's so appropriate for D.C.," says Knobel.

She agreed to take on the event as a thesis project for her degree in event planning at George Washington University. Goodstein was glad for the help. "It's nice to have somebody to keep me grounded. For a birthday conference, the options are endless."

The two sat at a table, laptops back to back, working out the details for a session on competitive board games. The conference will include other sessions on flower arranging, yoga, massage technique, and even though it'll be held indoors, Goodstein's dad is teaching a session on sailing.

The only real requirement for a breakout session is that Goodstein like the idea. Their planning led to more offbeat sessions, like a session on the ins and outs of the Minnesota State Fair.

"Two friends that live in Minnesota... they're doing a session about the fair," explains Goodstein. "There's a lot of food on sticks, there's also a gigantic Karaoke sing-along!"

A birthday with a bigger message

While most of the sessions are feel-good or downright silly, Goodstein is building in a healthy dose of social justice.

"I have a friend who just passed away, and she was on the board of an organization called Jews United for Justice," she says. "We devoted a session to an issue that they're working on."

The conference will be held downtown in a venue that can hold about 100 people. Friends are flying in from all over the country for the conference. But registration is open to the public, and Goodstein says she's looking forward to meeting new people.

"I make friends at the grocery store," she says. "I like the idea of shrinking the world. I like walking down the street and running into people I know, and I think it's about being an informed active participant in your life, and not letting life wash over you."

Sure, the Conference is kitschy and ironic, she says, but her message is sincere.

"I think people focus completely on their jobs and don't do anything else," she says. Although I love my job, why spend your whole week working when there are cookies to be decorated, flowers to be arranged, and cards to be made?

It might be the most unconventional birthday celebration around, but like any good party, there are only a few tickets left.

WAMU 88.5

Capital Fringe Fest's 'Bethesda' Hits Close To Home

The annual Capital Fringe Festival, which aims to bring new energy and artists to the D.C. area performing arts community, is back. This year's program includes one play that hits close to home.
NPR

Economists Say Inflation Is Tame; Consumers Aren't Buying It

On paper, inflation has been low this year. But consumers buying food or fuel may disagree. Prices for beef, eggs, fresh fruit and many other foods are much higher than overall inflation.
NPR

Germany Calls For 'Honest Foundation' In Relations With U.S.

The remarks by Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier follow fresh allegations of U.S. spying on Germany and Berlin's request that the top U.S. intelligence official in the country leave.
NPR

NSA Implementing Fix To Prevent Snowden-Like Security Breach

A year after Edward Snowden's digital heist, the NSA's chief technology officer says steps have been taken to stop future incidents. But he says there's no way for the NSA to be entirely secure.

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.