On Wednesday 13 and Thursday 14 September 2017, almost 200 community engagement enthusiasts packed themselves in to St Kilda Town Hall for the Engage 2 Act (un)Conference.
The focus of the (un)Conference was ‘for the love of community engagement’.
People with all levels of community engagement experience, from students and brand new practitioners, to our respected engagement elders attended. We asked that everyone come prepared to contribute, and to be stretched….and above all, ready to share the love.
Here are some reflections of the two-day (un)Conference from some members of our Collective.
Callum Prior, Perth (WA)
One of the things I love most about Engage 2 Act is that everyone genuinely cares about their communities. Not only are we looking to better our own practice, but we’re also involved with broader social issues.
I’m very proud to say that this year’s theme was “for the love of community engagement” and included our very public declaration in support of marriage equality (including our "Love is Love" celebration!).
It was a wonderful couple of days surrounded by two hundred other people similarly interested in advancing the cause of engagement and creating authentic relationships with their communities.
The highlights for me were Max Hardy's session on codesign, deliberative processes, and collective impact; Village Well on authentic and collaborative engagement through a placemaking lens (my other passion!); and CoDesign Studio's workshop on placemaking as a tool for social change.
There was also an AMAZING keynote speech by Dr Lyn Carson from The newDemocracy Foundation. Well worth checking out! Especially if you’re interested in “Extraordinary ideas to revitalise governance.”
I have a real passion for in community led decision making and open and honest engagement.
Paul Kooperman, The Field Trip
On Wednesday 13 September, nine Field Trippers achieved the incredible by attending the inaugural Engage 2 Act (un)Conference to facilitate a workshop on 'strengthening engagement with young people' for the other speakers, high profile guests and delegates.
With a room of 50 conference participants, volunteers and speakers from all over Australia, Hong Kong and elsewhere, the kids took to facilitating the group like they'd been doing it for years. They conducted the group as a choir (including some people who didn't speak English), taught them skills and led them wonderfully in wrapping wool around themselves symbolising their feeling of 'community'.
You can see highlights of the workshop here: youtube.com/watch?v=CoU06-cNaG0
The feedback from Engage 2 Act Board members, conference delegates, volunteers and participants has been extraordinary and we're even discussing a possible 'youth division' for Engage 2 Act.
Sama Hugo-Giali, RMIT Student
I went to the Engage 2 Act (un)Conference for the day yesterday, met lots of lovely people and found it incredibly inspiring!
We started the day with a Keynote address from Professor Lyn Carson of New Democracy. She spoke about deliberative democracy and had a list of 10 ideas she thought would revitalise our current system of governance.
One idea was to include the following options on the ballot: 1) None of the above (if a majority chose this the parties would have to scrap all their candidates and start from scratch) 2) A randomly selected citizen.
I then went to 3 really good workshops run by -
- City of Casey on how to generate interest in community engagement within an organisation
- Bang the Table: about digital ideation which I found really useful for my own work
- Lastly Three Sides of the Coin did a session on using theatre as a storytelling tool for community members who have suffered with gambling addiction which had everybody crying it was so moving
I'm so glad I went and now wish I had of arranged to go for the two full days!