We’ve been involved in a fair few unconferences as participants or organisers, so we’re really pleased to be co-facilitating the Solace Summit, in Edinburgh in October, which is taking the radical-for-conferences step of involving the audience properly, and trying to achieve things (rather than talk about them).
The typical local government conference has a parade of grey-suited men on a platform, giving presentations that are usually a variation on this one:
I’m pretty sure that most of us are familiar with – and bored of – those sorts of events. Credit to Solace, then, for an event that is trying to bring some of the participation and shared design of the unconference movement into the local government conference world. It’s not a complete unconference experience – you have to pay and attendance is for members of Solace – but it’s a lot closer to that than it is to BorchesterTogether.
At the conference, I’ll be facilitating a strand called Putting the Democracy Back into Localism. Rather than getting a slate of speakers to take up 80% of each session, I’ve asked a couple of people (not all local government people) to provoke a discussion using 20% of each session, and the participants to spend the other 80% discussing.
For participants, I hope the outcome will be more than a pleasant sense of an hour well-spent and a small packet of Brontë Fruit Shrewsburys. The aim of the conference as a whole is to record the good ideas that are being worked on around local government, and to create an action plan or statement of intent that sums up the actions that local government needs to take if it is to meet the challenge of societal and governmental change.
So there’s lots to talk about. Keep an eye out here, and on our Twitter feed, for more thoughts in the run-up to the conference.