Thanks to the generosity of our friends, the Universal Hall is now fully equipped with chairs, replacing the large benches. After regular and consistent feedback that the old benches were not very comfortable, especially for conference attendees, the fundraising team approached donors with a special request for funds to replace them. Donors responded generously and the Hall team bought the much more comfortable and easy to transport chairs in increments.
One of the advantages of having chairs rather than the benches became apparent during the recent We Do Not Die conference. The old benches had posts that fit into slots in the Hall’s bleachers, but wouldn’t stand on their own. With the chairs, the audience was able to enter the floor along with the presenters, creating a more intimate space. During the final afternoon of the conference, participants and presenters sat together in a circle of chairs for a free-flowing dialogue. Veteran conference presenter PMH Atwater was so impressed with the flexibility, openness and egalitarian spirit of the conference’s arrangement that she told a Foundation spokesperson afterward that she had never been to a conference like this.