Every year Greenbuilders hosts a community event as our way of saying thank you. We call it an UNCONFERENCE, and it is intended to be our gift…. Yet, I always feel as though I am actually the recipient! This year even more so, as the day was filled with music, silence, global brainstorming, laughter, babies and grandparents, artisan delicacies and workshops, amazing conversations… and even fireworks!
We all agreed our bodies, minds and spirits were sent home completely fulfilled & eager for next year’s UnConference invitation to arrive in the mail.
What’s An UnConference?
No name tags, for one thing! About 50 members of our community contributed to the event in some way, and about 70 guests participated in the day. We consistently presented two options at any given time on the schedule, an outdoor physical event and an indoor speaker-discussion, although we heard this actually made it hard to choose! Duly noted!
Mostly, we wanted our guests and speakers alike to feel the way we feel after a great party: great food, music, dancing and plenty of opportunities to make interesting new friends.
Our “Keynote” speaker, if you will, shared about the history and practice of thatching in Ireland and Wales (and the US).
Our presentation on Africa was a genuine brainstorming session where the presenter was seeking meaningful input to shape policy for his trip to Sierra Leone leaving the next day, having critical meetings and decisions such as where to locate a manufacturing plant. www.villagehopeinc.org
Many community leaders attended the day, representing local Conservancies, Cooperative Agriculture groups, and music was lead in the evening by the head of the National Institute for Health.
There was tremendous energy throughout the day of active and engaging minds at play. Each person had a strong background and some passion to share — so the most interesting conversations were with very different people discovering each other around the fire or at the dinner hour.
My favorite part is always observing new connections being created. People came from Pennsylvania, Ohio, DC and Virginia, and as far away as Idaho. Connections after the party spanned that distance as well.
Of course I wanted to share my thoughts of late, and I decided to provide a session on Time, Belief, and Experience. Wow, right?
I wanted to look at our struggles with aligning our beliefs with our actions, especially when it comes to living green. We all struggle with this, and I knew an inspiring discussion would ensue if I gave it a little push. Was I ever right!
I have great respect for people for people whose beliefs and how they spend their time line up, but sometimes that means a lot of 22 hour plane flights — difficult experiences, a sacrifice for the sake of living by your beliefs. I admire the sacrifices, but I also believe I’m free to seek positive healthy experiences as I live out my beliefs and spend my time. I invited those present to be aware when they can choose to have a great experience.
Movement & Play
A huge component of an UnConference is filling the schedule with all the FUN STUFF!
A nature walk was lead by experts identifying what we found, such as a milk snake, numbers of plants (beardstongue) and butterflies.
Pony rides were offered as alternative transportation around the grounds, with delightful artisan pops to quench one’s thirst.
Yoga and meditation by the stream offered opportunities for those wanting to experience the land in their own way.
Fireworks celebrated the evening’s completion…. and well, that brought out the kid in all of us, with plenty of “ooohs and aaaahs” to show our appreciation.
My gift was returned threefold. Thank you to all, and we truly look forward to unconferencing with you in 2016!
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