After Hours at the House of Delegates

After Hours at the House of Delegates

Howard W. Taylor, D.D.S.*:

When Dr. Howard Taylor became the Saint Paul District’s president-elect and thus its Associate Editor for Northwest Dentistry, he took our request to be an idea person very much to heart. He  looked around, all around, at what being a member of this profession and of organized dentistry is and can be, and then he thought about who he would be talking to as he reported. Among his  discoveries from this full 360° look at the MDA’s annual House of Delegates is this gentle, charming, and dead-on feature about how to make a contribution that springs from the real energy of  collegiality. For our new dentists, it is an invitation to consider the full picture of being a delegate. For readers at any point in their careers, you don’t have to read between the lines on this one.  Take it from an officer and a gentleman, this is an experience well worth the investment. You might even get to sit on the bed.
The Editors

House of Delegates 2009
The Minnesota Dental Association’s annual House of Delegates (HOD) is a terrific venue. It has a singular purpose: to be about the work of the Minnesota membership. The HOD is also a wonderful  way to connect and reconnect with friends and colleagues. As is commonly known, the HOD revolves around two days of committed sessions where proper protocol is required. Sometimes the  business of the House is tedious, and occasionally it is even stressful. All attendees can readily recognize the critical need for the procedures and the content of the agenda. But for those of us  who have been there, we also understand that all of that focused attention sets the stage for what happens “after hours at the HOD”.

This year the HOD was held in Rochester. That city is a great location for the meeting. There is always a local artists’ art fair going on outside of the hotels. The craftsmanship of the artists is  impressive, and the variety of media is very good. That allows for browsing for that great find through the numerous kiosks. Our 2009 meeting was centered between two hotels, the Kahler and
the Marriot. They are located across the street from each other. The Marriot Hotel has a very pleasant outdoor café at the entrance to its lobby. There is also a nice lounge and a restaurant just  inside from the street entrance. This trio of food and beverage services also served as a meeting hub for the HOD.

As did many of the other delegates, on that first Thursday afternoon I had a meeting to attend in preparation for the House. That left me free for Thursday evening. Thursday is a great evening.  Small groups are evident everywhere. I had dinner plans with a good friend from Duluth, Dr. Doug Erickson. We elected to eat at the restaurant at the entrance to the Marriot Hotel. We found that to be a perfect location. As we were enjoying the people watching, it became clear that we were also being watched. We had the good fortune to have Drs. Rose Perpich and Warren Johnson see us as they walked through the lobby. They both accepted invitations to join us for dinner. As dinner progressed to socializing, our very visible table was joined by several more friends who saw us  as they arrived to check in to the hotel. At the close of the festivities, our table had enjoyed great conversation with eight people from four different districts.

Not all of us were so sedentary, however. A number of people were table hopping in the lounge. At least four groups of HOD delegates congregated there, including one group which included  several members of the MDA staff. You could observe lots of introductions being made as more Minnesota dentists were meeting colleagues with the common interest of contributing to organized  dentistry. This was a terrific evening to relax and socialize prior to the House work of the next two days.

David Resch hosted. The available furniture filled up quickly.

Friday is a busy day at the House of Delegates, but Friday evening is a night to remember. Every district seems to use the evening to enhance the HOD experience. Saint Paul had a great evening. Our delegates divided into two large contingencies for dinner. Each contingency went to a different restaurant. It was obvious that most if not every district had similar plans, as groups of delegates could be seen everywhere on the streets of Rochester. Lots of laughter proved to be very relaxing, and relaxation was just what the doctors ordered after a whole day of doing “the  business of the House”. We had the good fortune to have several firstyear delegates as part of our delegation, and dinner was a great way to include people who were unfamiliar with the  experience of the HOD. But the night ...

The night is what makes for a really memorable experience. Saint Paul held a reception that was hosted by Dr. David Resch in his hotel room. Everyone was invited, but invitations were “word of  mouth” only. Half of the postdinner fun came from trying to pull together the supplies needed to not only host a reception, but create one that included serving a soon-to-legendary great  chocolate cake. Memories have been made from far less!

The early guests who came for the camaraderie were soon doubling as the welcoming committee for those who followed. Some people came for short periods of time, more like drop-in guests, while others stayed the majority of the evening and kept the warming social atmosphere on a high plane.

As can readily be imagined, seating in a hotel room is limited. There is the traditional desk chair and one deep, cushioned lounge chair, and of course the bed. The proverbial bed. Donna Stenberg  took the awkwardness out of sitting on the bed. It became the seat of honor to sit next to Donna on the bed. Most of the HOD delegates who came to our reception brought along their sense of  humor and therefore took advantage of the seat of honor next to Donna. Several House dignitaries also made an appearance, and several stayed for the evening. MDA pastpresident Dick Wiberg  and his wife Karen and Speaker of the House Mike Kurkowski and his wife Marcia spent much of the evening in our company.

Rumor does have it, however, that the aforementioned chocolate cake was the hit of the evening. Other guests spoke favorably about the beverages. Stimulating conversation could easily have  been the number one draw to the Saint Paul reception, but I have it from a very reliable source that the opportunity to sit next to Donna Stenberg on the bed was the hands down number one  draw.

Rochester was in full swing for the whole evening. The outdoor café at the Marriot was still one of the “places to be seen”. Loren Hanson from the MDA staff was quick to invite people to join the rest of the MDA staff. There was no inside scoop being discussed, just great conversation and the opportunity to become better acquainted with colleagues who are looking to create a better  environment of dental health care in Minnesota.

The culmination of the evening was experienced by a small contingency. Kathy Krauter, our very own SPDDS Executive Director, has a true love for “the blues”. When she heard that the Whiskey Bones Roadhouse in Rochester was featuring a recognized blues band, neither sleet nor snow nor the setting moon would keep her from hearing and enjoying the music. I believe she had the most  memorable evening of us all.

The Saturday morning of the House traditionally begins with each district having a breakfast. The intent of the gathering is to review the final language of the resolutions presented on Friday. Following the close of the HOD between noon and one o’clock, box lunches are available because departure is inconsistent. Some people leave promptly, while others congregate in small groups to  debrief concerning the business of the House. For that reason breakfast is a great time to review the happenings from the previous evening and to affirm that being a part of organized dentistry is rewarding and it can be fun, too.

The House of Delegates is a rewarding experience, but it is also one that requires the willing and enthusiastic participation of its member dentists. That said, the invitation remains: Make yourself available for the HOD and you too could experience “After Hours at the House of Delegates”.

SPDDS' trusty trustee Donna Stenberg made the room everyone's comfort zone.