Meeting in art-centric Santa Fe, N.M., might seem out of character for a group of neurotrauma scientists, but the city ended up offering the perfect balance of right- and left-brain activities for attendees during the National Neurotrauma Society Symposium, held June 28 to July 1.
“Everything around that town is really encouraging the growth of artists,” says Karen Gottlieb, president of TLC Events groups, the company that organized the event. “I think it was neat for our very left-brained attendees to be surrounded by really inspiring works of art everywhere they went. It made them look at the world in a different way.”
The annual, 600-person educational meeting focuses on traumatic brain and spinal cord injuries. While the 4-day event took place at the Santa Fe Community Convention Center, attendees stayed in four hotels—La Fonda on the Plaza, Hilton Santa Fe Historic Plaza, Eldorado Hotel & Spa and Inn and Spa at Loretto Santa Fe—surrounding the Santa Fe Plaza. The walkability of Santa Fe and its small-town vibe were key reasons the group chose it, says Gottlieb. The central plaza even served as a place for people to connect and hangout, especially with restaurants and shops so close by.
“Santa Fe had a very intimate feeling,” says Gottlieb. “The group is very specialized in what they do, and some of the other meetings for this specific topic are huge, with about 30,000 people. Attendees coming to this meeting expect to have a deeper connection with the other attendees, speakers and sponsors, and being in a smaller location where you’re going to bump into each other more often really helps that.”
One of the event’s highlights was the Monday-night event at the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum. The Women in Neurotrauma Research group sponsored the event here because it’s the only museum in the U.S. dedicated to an internationally known female artist. It was a fitting backdrop for the female speaker, who spoke and led a mentoring session about her experience with the National Institutes of Health. After the session, attendees explored the photographs, sculptures and paintings created by O’Keeffe.
The New Mexico History Museum served as the location for the meeting’s last-night event on Tuesday evening. Attendees walked through the Palace of Governors past the Portal Native American Artisans program, where dozens of New Mexico Native American artists sell their handmade arts and crafts daily. Attendees then entered the original hacienda, which is now the museum that houses permanent and temporary exhibitions about the local people before heading out on the grassy courtyard area to watch flamenco dancers, a native tribal singer and Spanish guitarist.
“This was definitely one of the best events we’ve ever had,” says Gottlieb. “We consistently heard that people loved the city and thought it was a great location from Day One. I think most people haven’t been to Santa Fe, and it is on people’s bucket lists.”
Gottlieb says to quell any concerns, there was information about how to get to Santa Fe from the airport on the event’s website months in advance.
“My biggest advice would be not to count [Santa Fe] out because it seems more difficult to get to. What I thought was going to be a much more difficult transportation issue, really wasn’t. I thought attendees would complain about the transfer from Albuquerque, but [the landscape] is so different that they just spent the time looking out the window.”