News from New Zealand — the Social Enterprise World Forum 2017

Well, here I am in Christchurch, New Zealand, at the Social Enterprise World Forum 2017.

Early last summer I was approached by the team planning the SEWF 2017 who asked if I would like to deliver a workshop drawing on my experience of running networks. My immediate answer was “I’d love to”. My second answer was “Er, where is the Forum in 2017?”, and my third answer was, “Oh and when is it?”

I arrived in Christchurch on Saturday afternoon (23rd Sept) after a 30-hour journey and set about planning the delivery of two workshops and a plenary session — yes, one workshop turned into three! — all by skype, while somehow addressing different time zones, and feeling thrilled to be here.

To give you all some kind of context, the booking closed about three weeks ago with 1,200 people registered from over 30 countries. In fact, here has been such massive demand that last week the organisers released a further 300 tickets and there are still people on the waiting list. No pressure then to make sure I deliver well in my workshops!

Christchurch Art Gallery – Te Puna o Waiwhetu

They have been very clever in how they have arranged the conference accommodation. As you will be aware, Christchurch suffered a massive earthquake in 2011 in which 185 people lost their lives, and there is considerable rebuilding still going on (there were also smaller earthquakes in 2010 and 2016). Rather than locate everything in one building, the conference takes place at eight venues all within a 10-minute walk, with simultaneous events taking place. Venues include the stunning Christchurch Art Gallery (in Maori, Te Puna o Waiwhetu), the City Council buildings, the Theatre Royal and various business buildings.

I have already studied my map carefully (it’s on a SEWF Conference App) and worked out where I need to be and at what time. We were told beforehand to make sure we brought sensible shoes!

The theme for the conference which starts tomorrow (and runs from the 27th to the 29th September) is:

“Ka koroki te manu — Creating our tomorrow.”

The conference is described as “an invitation to create a global legacy of positive change and to take an active role in shaping the world’s future. Just as the first birdsong welcomes the potential of tomorrow, SEWF 2017 is a chance to come together and explore the endless possibility in ours.”

There is plenty for us to learn from the way the organisers have ensured that each participant gets a very personal experience by designing their own programme.

There are six streams of activity and multiple activities within those. Each day starts at 7.30am and closes when it closes. I’m wondering whether to try yoga tomorrow morning as a morning energiser or to go networking with the local community.

I’m off to register now, followed by a welcome event held by a splinter group of intermediary organisations. So exciting!! Watch this space for more news from SEWF 2017.

Sarah Crawley, iSE

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