ChangeCamp AU – my intro to the engage2 team, by Hannah Mitchell

ChangeCampAU was bubbling with enthusiasm from the very start of the event this Saturday. Real bubbles and speech bubbles of photos and conversation were cast up the walls of the building of the UTS Business School, in Ultimo. This was my first day working with the engage2 team, and it set a high standard for engaging events and facilitating ways for people to network and exchange ideas and resources.

Our opening speaker was Kerry Graham from Collaboration for Impact. She reminded us that by stepping away from traditional methods of operation we can learn to work together more collaboratively. She boldly stated that she hoped that during the next decade we would see the end of the “Entrepreneurial Hero”, for while we still need the entrepreneurial spirit, it is no longer about people doing it by themselves. We all have missing puzzle pieces, and through both knowing our own strengths and learning to work together, we can solve the problems we are facing.

An “Unconference” requires the creation of an agenda on the day of the event. Five topic streams were announced and participants were invited to start a conversation of their choice. They were asked to choose the most appropriate stream for their topic and write it on a corresponding coloured piece of paper. The coloured papers gathered together, and within 10 minutes, an agenda was created that would fill the next 3+ hours. A gathering with such interesting people unsurprisingly resulted in many diverse discussions.  Examples of topics that were presented ranged from ‘Leadership in Education’ to ‘Sustainability of Social Enterprises’, ‘Early intervention in domestic and family violence’ and ‘Addressing Homelessness’ to ‘Corporate Australia: leveraging their influence’. Choosing which session to go to was difficult, and the arising conversations were only the beginning of new collaborations that were forming.

One of my favourite things about this event were the moments taken to pause and reflect on the personal resilience of participants. These were moments were designed to help with the fluidity and flow of the day and aided in the ability to cultivate networks more successfully. Equally as effective was the post-lunch session with The Human Sound Project, which worked with all participants to create musical sounds together. Within a short 20 minute session ChangeCampAU went from a room of 100 strangers, to a melodic ensemble with an original theme tune filling the auditorium.

We closed the event by coming back together for a final session named “Ask and Give”. This was a mingling session, where participants could list the things they needed or were able to offer. We then “bumped” into each other, exchanging information, and linking people up with others who could help them in specific collaborations. It was also another opportunity to swap contact details with the people we had met who would be able to help deliver actions that came out of the day. While communications with the attendees will be ongoing, the partnerships that were emerging are already strengthening the associated networks.

All in all the first ChangeCamp hosted in Australia was an excellent success, initiating new conversations with change-makers across the Sydney. We were heartened by the openness and authenticity of the participants that were able to unfold in the ‘Unconference’ container created together. These connections that were cultivated in a short space of time are sure to evolve into some exciting projects in the city and beyond.

Engage2 also joined with co-collaborators and together we are now discussing meet-ups and potential venues for us to meet in the near future. We will be in touch in the next couple of weeks about the next opportunities for us to gather.

In the meantime, keep an eye on our thinkspace for more stories about experiences at ChangeCampAU2017.

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