We looked at what we had done, what we had achieved and where others are heading. We thought about what the world needs and what we need. And all our learnings came together in our vision: an open, dynamic, self-organising and action-focused community fighting the climate crisis. We have taken these principles and allowed them to guide us through community events and experiments for the past 9 months. We have enjoyed triumphs, learnt valuable lessons, and pushed some boundaries, diving ever deeper into our community vision.
The next event in the calendar is a big one. The Alumni Annual Event, to take place over 3 days in December in Paris. We will bring together 150 of our community members. The event carries tradition and success: two things that often generate resistance to change. (Not that that will stop us.) Taking on such a huge organisational task is challenge enough without adding these somewhat vague and idealist criteria. I have to question, will our resolve to stick to our principles be tested? If so, what will compromise look like and will it still feel like our vision? Or, maybe, will the scale of the event provide the momentum we need to engage even further with our principles, to embed them into the culture of the community and explore where they can take us? Let’s give it a go!
Unfortunately, we don’t have the resources to host all the thousands of members of our alumni community at the event in Paris — maybe one day! — but we endeavour to keep the event as open as possible. This means breaking down financial barriers to attending (as always, costs to participants are kept as low as possible with financial support available for some) and offering alternatives for those who can’t be there physically (in the form of satellite events in other cities across Europe).
And of course the planning process should be open too. Community members have been invited to engage from the beginning with the design process, programme ideas, and logistics planning. Our Slack channel will provide an open forum for questions and brainwaves along the way: #alumnieventparis2019
The vibe of this year’s annual event will be less conference, more festival; less explaining, more exploring; less agenda, more adventure. A number of activities will take place simultaneously, inviting participants to engage where they feel they can contribute or learn and to move on, when they feel they can better engage elsewhere. Something cool comes up on the day? Let’s work it into the programme. An idea doesn’t come to fruition? Let’s see if there’s a better way to use our time together.
This is an event for the community, by the community. As mentioned, community members will be invited to take ownership of the activities from now. Ideas for activities will be shared via Slack and those that aren’t taken up by a community member simply won’t appear at the event. Plans can evolve and grow between now and December with support from the event team and the community budget. By the time we all come together in December, it will feel as though the 3-day event is a climax for all the micro-projects that community members have been working on. Hopefully the first of many immersive moments.
Perhaps the most essential and most challenging of our principles. All the preparation and process for this event focuses on bringing our community together to take action. We want to have a real tangible impact, who doesn’t? But we are still discovering what that looks like. It seems that the whole world is still trying to figure out exactly what actions we can take to work towards climate justice.
So, for now, we continue to experiment. The gold of an open, dynamic and self-organised designing process is that we can collectively build a programme of activities based on what we have dreamed might work and what we have learnt does not. We can learn and adapt as we go, and we can all be involved, magnifying our actions and our potential impact. And next year? The sky’s the limit.