Readers of MCFly and another site will know that bad meetings – where hardly anyone can ‘meet’ because the organisers are in effect feeding the attendees to the speakers as ‘egofodder’ – are a sore point. So few of the organisations that say they are tackling climate change are trying to innovate in their formats, and so people come and go, alienated and frustrated but not necessarily knowing why, or knowing but giving up.
So, when Carbon Coop, the Manchester-based outfit that is helping individuals and groups cut their carbon footprints, announced it was holding a ‘Great Energy Debate’ [November 6, free, book here] , there was a sigh of relief at MCFly Towers when the ‘sage on the stage’ format of experts telling rows of people The Truth was to be subverted. Here is an email interview with Jonathan Atkinson, one of the people behind Carbon Coop…
1. The format for November 6 is a little different from the traditional
panel and Q and A. Why are you tweaking the format? (i.e what is wrong
with the status quo)
A bit of background about the event. We’re running an immersive game for families and young people at the Manchester Museum as part of the Science Festival this year – http://greatenergyescape.carbon.coop/
Because the transition is a complex and changing process we wanted to run an event that reflected that complexity – as such, it’s not about three experts ‘telling it like it is’ instead we want to pool and harness the knowledge in the room. This means involving attendees as participants, using small group discussions and reflections as part of an
Where do the tweaks come from? (own experience, pure experiment?)
We also keep our eyes open for new formats, techniques and tools to try and keep things fresh, and obviously rip off ideas from other events we attend that have been successful in some way – sadly the most innovative stuff is often happening in other sectors, eg there is a lot of new, interesting thinking in health and social care, especially around the role of ‘social movements’ in involving people in non-traditional primary health care activities.
Are you worried that some people might be uncomfortable with the change,
at least initially?
Never! Maybe, when you ask them to break in to small groups. there’s a second of puzzled bewilderment crossing their faces, but actually people love to talk and interact, and when you give them permission to do this you help them overcome the natural barriers of shyness and awkwardness. The biggest issue is shutting them up, which I always feel bad about, because in some ways that should be what an event like this is all about!
What does success look like for this meeting? How do you intend to