Monday, October 4, 2010

Novel Idea in Low Travel High Discussion Conferencing

It looks like it is all coming together! OK, I admit, this was a crazy idea. Organising a conference for a group of people in a particular organisation is normally a huge undertaking. But this idea was to essentially organise 6 conferences and the IT to connect them in real time, and get people from a huge range of fields together to talk about what is going right instead of what is going wrong... what was I thinking?

But, it's really happening.

There are people getting excited about this possibility of holding a national dialogue. They are working hard at the universities to get the venues and technology sorted, and they are working at spreading the word. I've seen the new HD323 technology, and it is incredible. No grainy garbly skypey video here folks. It's like you are right there in the room. Amazing!

We have searched around, and I'm rather confident that this is the first national e-conference of this type in the world! Think about it, the people at this event will be there when a truly participatory national low-travel conference is held for the first time. We estimate that this conference design will save 22 tones of carbon dioxide from being produced. We will be documenting this grand experiment and providing what we have learned to others.

My idea in setting up this Signs of Change Conference was to move on from defining the problems. The problems are big, and it is important that we know what is not sustainable. But I had this idea that we could find out what a sustainable society looks like by actually seeing and experiencing it emerging. This experience shared by a significant number of people around the country could be a powerful turning point. I believe there will be such a sense of momentum that we can break free of the gravity of Business-as-Usual and launch into a new direction.

We will have Keynote Speakers with expertise and experience. We will hear rapid-fire signs of change from Change Reporters in all fields and from around the country. At different venues there will be a range of activities like the breakfast discussion group at Canterbury. We will have a screening of a very special short film at the end of the first day. There will be local evening events and discussion groups. The national conference participants will work to produce a communique to our great-grandchildren to tell them about this point in history and what we are committed to doing.

We have worked very hard to keep the registration costs as low as possible. All of the Universities and the Royal Society are supporting the project with no or reduced costs. The IT specialists are taking up the project, and academics, ESR and SEF members at each venue are working to get arrangements made. There is no sponsorship in the usual sense for this conference, and there certainly will be no profit made. We will need at least 400 participants to break even, but I believe we can do it.

The number of signs of change submitted has been amazing! I knew it, the change is happening from the "bottom up".

I want to thank Pip, Nathan, Mel, and Shannon for their help in handling the emails and technicalities. I'll be the first to admit that I'm more of a big-picture than a details person. So this big idea will be a success because of them.

Plan to come along and bring a friend. We had to use work days in order to make use of the venues and IT, but I think it might be one of the more amazing holidays from work you take this year.

I look forward to seeing you there New Zealand!



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