If you're throwing an event in honor of a person who is wise and kind to an uncommonly great degree, you can invite anyone and everyone--whole departments, whole universities, whole disciplines--and only the wise and kind people in those communities are likely to show up. The honoree's most devoted colleagues and former students will travel hundreds, even thousands of miles at their own expense to be there, while the invitees who are habitually nasty, even the ones who live not half a mile away, stay home and sulk in their tents.
Alicia herself was gracious and brilliant. The speakers read delightful poems, gave good informal talks, and told funny stories. sporos, as usual, blew every mind in the room.
Thank you, folks, for being patient about my jitters last night. Reading those replies over breakfast made it a lot easier to get out the door. I'm really glad I went.