This year’s Living the Next Economy Oakland Convergence will offer three days of engaging, interactive sessions, addressing issues of critical concern to the Oakland community. Our goals are to:
- Provide opportunities for participants to deeply engage on issues of greatest concern to them.
- Provide a space for people to meet other people around shared goals and opportunities.
- Create opportunities for new projects / initiatives to come out of the convergence and for participants and the broader community to engage with those projects / initiatives after the convergence.
In order to achieve these goals, before, during and after the convergence, we will engage a broad base of community organizations whose constituents represent the diversity of Oakland. In addition, we will be mindful of the appropriate processes and technologies to engage different groups (e.g., mind the technology gaps).
We will host a three-day convergence of informative talks, interactive workshops, and a daylong “activation session” devoted to applying people’s passions toward new policy campaigns, movement building and social enterprise.
The three days will take place over a Friday-Sunday as many of our participants work during the week (and since it is typically easier to take off a Friday than a few days during the middle of the week). Because many of our participants who will be taking off work may lose wages, we will consider ways to offset any economic hardship (i.e., free and low-cost ticketing options, along with with subsidized transportation and child care).
To provide opportunities for our community to surface issues of greatest concern, a majority of our talks and workshop content will be community-driven. Here are several ways we will engage the community in generating relevant content:
- Open call for proposals in advance of the convergence: We will put in place a process for people to submit a proposal on a session topic in alignment with the convergence themes / tracks. We can allow the public to decide the most attractive proposals. As we design an open proposal process, we will: (1) host a series of community town halls to ensure that those without access to certain technologies are provided an opportunity to generate proposals; (2) ensure that our messaging is clear and accessible; (3) provide a sufficient time period for submitting and voting proposals; and (4) dedicate significant time for open proposals during the convergence.
- Open space sessions during the convergence: We will provide one or more blocks of time for participants to propose and lead open space talks / workshops in alignment with the convergence themes / tracks. As we design an open space process, we will: (1) support people’s sense of comfort / security in proposing a topic onsite; (2) ensure clear and accessible messaging around the open space process to ensure it resonates with participants; and (3) provide sufficient time for participants to fully take advantage of open space opportunities during the convergence.
- Activation Sessions: One of the unique offerings of the Living the New Economy Convergence in 2014 was a day-and-a-half “hackathon” which allowed participants to bring their ideas, pitch them and form teams to work on them with the goal of having winners that received prizes (i.e., a full scholarship to the Uptima Business Bootcamp, website hosting, co-working, Bay Bucks consulting and credits, and the Institute for Evolutionary Leadership bootcamp). This in-depth team experience helped participants develop actual businesses out of their ideas. Both the grand prize and runner-up winners of the LNE 2014 “hackathon” utilized their prizes and are continuing to develop their businesses. As a result, we have some proof of concept that “hackathon” sessions have impact beyond the convergence.This year, we are extending this impact beyond business by turning the “hackathon” into a day-long “Activation Session” with three tracks: (1) new policy campaigns, (2) movement building initiatives, and (3) social enterprise. The “Activation Sessions” will be facilitated by leaders from each of these tracks. All registered participants can take part in the mentoring and idea cultivation aspects of the daylong session, but a select number of participants may also wish to team up into cohorts to hone their ideas into a presentable format. Cohorts will have the opportunity to present their ideas at the end of the day to a representative panel of judges who will select a winner in each of the three tracks. We will provide a one-year support package (e.g., one-year scholarship to Uptima Business Bootcamp for the social enterprise winner, mentorship opportunities with other track winners, etc.) to ensure that the three winning cohorts can further put their ideas into actionable plans.
Given this year’s focus on deeply addressing racial and economic injustice, the convergence may trigger many people as we explore these challenging issues. As part of the program, we will also have concurrent track running throughout the event for participants who want to meet and speak / process what comes up for them. It will be a facilitated safe space created in the manner of Theory U or restorative justice circles, or it may even be self-facilitated. This will help ensure that everyone with contrary ideas and feelings can feel heard / valued, and that everyone can sit with the discomfort with each other. Hopefully, something regenerative and insightful will emerge from people’s willingness to hear and be with the discomfort. New possibilities for deepened understanding and connection may even be created.