Building networks with conversation … and passion

June 20, 2005 § Leave a comment

Ottawa, Canada

My friends Allen Gunn (aka Gunner) and Katrin Verclas at Aspiration know a ton about running events to make networks work. They are amongst the best I have ever seen.


From the SummerSource camp Gunner did with Tactical Tech two years ago to last June’s advocacy software developers (AdvocacyDev) workshop to the Penguin Day series, they developed a powerful approach to putting passionate people into a room to define where they want to go together. The AdvocacyDev workshop alone has catalyzed dozens of other projects, follow-on workshops and informal clusters of folks doing stuff together — all of which are aimed at moving the field of advocacy software development forward.

As wants to do the same thing – bring together passionate people and then help them work together on concrete projects – we thought that we should do something to learn from Aspiration. With this in mind, we held a workshop in Ottawa last week to train the team (plus others from Bellanet and IDRC) in the Aspiration event methodology. Unsurprisingly, this was both transformative and fun – it gave us skills and attitude that will help us in our role as convenor.

Now, the trick will be to apply what we have learned. We’re starting by planning our WSIS event using the Aspiration approach – envisioning it as an open conversation that will get people charged up and lead to concrete, network-based action. Also, we’re working with Aspiration to evolve the facilitation toolkit they are developing at, with the idea that we want to help our partners in the telecentre world gain from (and contribute to) these materials as well. It should be an interesting journey.

PS. Thanks to John Stahl for the nice Katrin and Gunner pic.

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