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VanChangeCamp, leading into Participation Camp

Two posts rolled into one! The time constraints demand it.

Vancouver ChangeCamp

Vancouver ChangeCamp happened last Saturday, and I was extremely delighted to have the privilege of describing  (at the very high-level due to similar time constraints) the ChangeCamp “lineage”, from BarCamp, DemoCamp, TransitCamp, OpenCities to the events in Toronto and Ottawa.

So what happened? The same thing that happens at most camps: lots of connecting and unexpected things.  Lots of ideas being flung around, scribbled furiously, in sessions, in hallways, between mouthfuls of lunch. Individuals were asked to bring the full force of their learning, experience, and wisdom to the two questions of how citizens can collaborate for better outcomes, and governments can become more open and responsive

This also qualified as simultaneously the most enjoyable and convoluted experience I’ve had organizing a camp. I don’t mean that to be dismissive of the incredible dedication of the co-organizers or any reflection on the participants either — it is more a symptom of the idea and scope of ChangeCamp itself, which is that it invites so many different perspectives and speaks to so many existing threads and stories. It made our organizing meetings lively and diverse, and I wouldn’t trade an iota of that diversity — in experience with BarCamp, in comfort with technology, in background and training — for anything coming “easier”. In the middle of a meeting, I tried to conjure the phrase, “I salute you with a filet mignon on a flaming sword!” but it didn’t quite happen, but to the organizers and participants, you all really stepped up and I was amazed by your focus, your curiosity, your passion for making tings happen, and your enthusiasm at the event itself.

Everyone goes to a different event at these things. Even now, after nearly a week, I’m still processing the sessions I attended. I’m unfortunately also falling victim to failing to follow my own advice, where I asked people during the closing circle to “keep broadcasting.”

I do have some observations on the event more generally that I’m still in the process of articulating properly. One thing — my overarching impression is that we were very effective at engaging the non-blogging, not hyper-connected community. While that is definitely a strength of the event and definitely no accident given the makeup of the organizing team, I’ve also found that it’s really in the precise mix that these things take off, and for the next ChangeCamp, I’d definitely throw myself more wholeheartedly at the task of getting bloggers out. That said, I really must salute Vancouver liveblogger extraordinaire Raul for his incredible CoverItLive streams of the sessions he attended.

My task right now is the seemingly impossible task of getting my videos uploaded to YouTube! So far I’ve got the last 6 minutes of my first video of David Hume’s presentation…here’s hoping the preceding 20 minutes are not far behind.


I’ve registered to participate in (ha) ParticipationCamp, an unconference around governance that is really raising the bar in a couple of really interesting ways. They’ve been holding Skype pre-event group chats to start seeding the ideas and interest ahead of the event. As I’m vacationing in New York, I haven’t had much of a chance to dive into much of this pre-event material (but I’d like to think Vancouver ChangeCamp was more than adequate a primer in this respect). The event is taking place at NYU tomorrow and I hope I will be able to meet some awesome people. I’ll also hope to propose a session with an overview of the essential ingredients of a successful Camp event, drawing on my experience now pitching in in various capacities with four events, having attended a significant number of them on a variety of different topics, and having studied them as part of my Bachelor Honour’s thesis. I’ll also bring in some newer aspects of it and see how it plays with the audience.

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