Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Event planning project update

Things are heating up a bit for Evolutionize It. Plans to launch a 6-month global event series concept I've been working on with some allies since the first ned.com unconference are now starting to shift gears, toward making 4 launch events happen in July. As Matt Nathan from w1sd0m in Denver said this morning in a call we had at 5am my time, "The train is leaving the station, and it's a cool train to climb aboard, cuz we're all laying tracks as we go."

The webbed event series concept as it currently stands here has evolved (and is still evolving) through practical experimentation and conversation with Mark Grimes at Ned.com, Matt Nathan at w1sd0m , and Alex, Antoine and Simon of the HubBrussels team. As usual, Jean Russel at Thrivable has also been super helpful. The event name keeps changing, but the concept seems to be becoming increasingly clearer as I work to massage the feedback from each conversation into the concept framework.

I am now trying to pull these US and European voices together with contacts who've indicated an interest in holding events in China, Kenya, Uganda, Haiti and Brazil in a group call sometime within the next week. Feedback from them also needs massaging into the concept before I'll feel comfortable promoting the events worldwide as "global."

This evening I will meet with the Ashoka Support Network in Belgium and present this event series as the concrete project that I could use their focused expertise and support in. My 3 slide presentation to the ASN is here (excuse the formatting which may not have saved well in conversion to a google doc).

I'm reaching out with intent through this blog post to the Evolutionize It board and to some other really smart people who I hope will weigh in here with thoughts, feedback and advice :-) There's even an image sandbox if you'd like to play. The next big push will be to build a social media campaign infrastructure for the local events and finding all 20 event hosts. Exciting stuff! Here's hoping that it works well.


  1. Christina -

    This is "evolving" in wonderful directions! If you look at all of the component parts to this, it strikes me that two of them have been done effectively in the past and two less so. Organizations have run different events simultaneously on the ground in different parts of the world; as well as having geographically spread groups connecting simultaneously online.

    As we have discussed, the two pieces that haven't yet been done as successfully are (1) Effective connections between the in-person groups and on-line groups and (2) Sustaining the momentum (or at least some momentum) and practical follow-up after the event is over. (Having been involved in planning/participating in lots of "big events" over the years I like to say that we are good at planning them and less good at follow-up / maintaining the momentum.)

    Running this event over a period of six months, with four target periods, should aid in doing both of the items listed above, as it will provide time to create "structure" or "ties that bond" while the event is on-going. I would encourage you to continue to think about what some of those will be.

    Again, kudos for all of the work you have put in thus far. It is sounding very exciting and I would be happy to stay involved however I can be of help!

    Bonnie Koenig

  2. I love this idea! And would be happy to conribute what I can--whether that means sharing the word, helping land speakers, strategizing around how we perform this cross-global feat or even speaking myself should there be a desire.

    I also note that this dovetails nicely here in Denver with the Biennial of the Americas. It would be great to somehow integrate this conference with their efforts since their vision is closely aligned with this concept--global innovation and collaboration for social good. http://www.denver.org/what-to-do/museum-art/denver-biennial-americas

    I do wonder if Ashoka is the right forum for assistance given the need for resources on the CYC (Change Your City) side of the house. I appreciate communicating with the support network of Ashoka as to at least build awareness but I would think carefully before adding them as a "formal" sponsor. My brief experience suggests that the more players you add--the less flexibility you have to plan and execute.

    Obviously, my opinion would change if there was an explicit commitment of resources. It seems like in most instances, though, Ashoka really expects the socent to really drive resource development. That has certainly been the case with CYC. I agree with that position but it does make their formal involvement less valuable.

    By the way, the last comments are based only on what I have seen and comments I have heard from other socents so I may be speaking out of turn. Just wanted to throw in my two cents.

    Let me know how I can help.


  3. Bonnie, thank you so much for your thoughtful comments. Indeed, you get what I'm after with regard to momentum and forging effective connections between the online/offline groups. With regard to creating the ties that bind, indeed we should think more about that. I think where I've been coming down on that so far is that if we can design content that can be compiled into a meaningful, usable archive of information that can be repackaged and repurposed for lots of different things, then our time together will have created a lasting value. I know that's not the same thing as creating lasting human relationships, but it's where my own head has been at. I think the pitchstream will be quite effectively engaging for a subgroup of the participants, but it would be useful to think more about how to make sure the rest of the participants still feel a part of something.

    Kendall, in french speaking europe Ashoka is piloting a new model that tries to involve local investors in the Fellows' enterprises in (ideally) a steering committee role. The Belgian "Ashoka Support Network" of investors is very newly forming. Tonight's event ended up being more like a speed-dating event, and far less effective than I'd hoped it would be in engaging the ASN folks in anything but broad conversation. Rest assured, I am not thinking at all about any kind of Ashoka sponsorship, but since I am a Fellow I had the opportunity. So it seemed logical I should present them with this as an area where they might help. BTW when Matt and I first talked about possibly replicating the 1st ned unconference back in Feb, he was specifically thinking about dovetailing with the Change Your City happenings.

  4. Christina, you asked me to share some of our conversation about this project - and continue it - here. Happy to do so.

    Part of what I think we're aiming to do with this project is to explore and improve how streams of interaction can weave among many in-person events over time, both those "inside" our project (i.e. our host sites) and "outside" our project.

    Lucy Bernholz wrote a thought-provoking post recently titled "Who is in, who is out?"

    I think the real work now is neither "inside" nor "outside" -- rather it is "between and among" people. That is driven by change, when the old maps are no longer accurate re emerging reality.

    To create adaptive solutions will require inclusion of all perspectives and engagement of all stakeholders.

    Accordingly, our events ought to be as open as possible. (As convenor of the Denver event, I'll be aiming not just for our 100 Euro price-point, but for sliding scale / pay-through-work arrangements, etc.)

    We talked about using a term other than the archaic "VIP" for those participants who (in our rough draft design) will be personally invited by local site hosts. You suggested "Connectors" which I like. I'll be involving a diverse group of advisors to identify & invite those who can help make powerful connections between our event & all relevant networks.

    Bonnie, I agree with you about the two pieces that have tended to be missing -- the connection between online and offline participation, and momentum between events. That is part of why we're developing this project. How could we do something new, collaboratively and globally, to build not just a "pitchstream" but an "actionstream" that flows effectively among and between cultures, languages, tools, platforms, events, ventures -- toward accomplishment of significant shared goals.

    Kendall, so glad to engage with you on all this - and absolutely: the Biennial of the Americas, and all the other social innovation / social enterprise initiatives that we are both connected to are a "perfect storm" -- which is why I began to dream of a version of this project a year ago. And why I connected with Christina Jordan and Mark Grimes, who had a similar vision.

    Look forward to developing and doing this with all of you!