Preparing for the (Un)conference: Introduction to Open Space

The agenda is a blank wall. The ideal participants are whichever people show up. No one, including the event organizer, knows exactly what will be discussed or who will lead sessions. This is not the typical conference, but something called an unconference, and at the heart of the event is Open Space Technology. 

In brief, we will gather in a large room. Everyone will come with his or her own ideas and concerns about sexuality and disability.  Paper will be provided. We will take our ideas and make session titles from them. We will tape them to the wall. We will sort them out, perhaps combining similar topics, negotiating time slots and breakout rooms. People will sign up for the sessions in which they want to participate. All of this will happen in morning, and in the afternoon, we will go to the breakout rooms we have chosen, or change our minds and go to other sessions. At the end of the day, we will come back together and talk as a group. Throughout the process, there will be one or more experienced leaders to help us whenever confusion erupts. 

There is a structure supporting what at times may appear to be chaos.

From Introduction to Open Space Technology by Kaliya Hamlin:

Open Space Technology is an approach to facilitate convenings described by the following characteristics:

  • high levels of complexity
  • high potential or actual conflict
  • high levels of diversity
  • a decision time of yesterday

Please view the slide show to get a general idea what will happen during the unconference.

Do you have questions or concerns about the process? Have you ever attended an unconference? We would love to discuss these topics and others of interest to anyone thinking about attending the Undressing Normal (Un)conference. Please leave your thoughts in the comments here.

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