I facilitated a session at the Wiring the Social Economy unconference in Vancouver yesterday about connecting social innovators around the Cascadia bioregion. Specifically, the discussion focused on how best to connect folks working on similar issues in Vancouver, Seattle, and Portland. Lots of great folks showed up and offered their thoughts — thanks to everyone who participated!
Here are my raw notes from the session. Notes from other sessions can be found on the conference wiki.

Connecting Social Innovators in Vancouver, Seattle, and Portland
Wiring the Social Economy
Vancouver, BC
December 4, 2010

Session facilitated by: Chris Coldewey – coldewey AT gmail – chriscoldewey.com

Session premise:
Vancouver, Seattle, and Portland are culturally very similar, and are filled with people tackling similar problems. The border shouldn’t be such a hindrance to communication and sharing, but it is. How can we connect social innovators across these three cities so that we can learn what’s working in each city, share best practices, and inspire each other?

Raw session notes:
  • Why
    • Need to create learning community that people in each city can sign on to
    • One benefit could be getting a better understanding of cultural/political diffs
    • Not just about sharing, but BC can project its influence for the larger benefit of the region
  • How
    • Rallying meme: Republic of Cascadia. Create a unifying glossary of terms to brand the movement
    • Tedx as inspiration: Create a “TedxCascadia” or “ChangeCamp” that brings together people from Vancouver, Seattle, and Portland.
    • Create a “Sister Cities” one-day event framework (like Tedx in general) that could be franchised/replicated by people wanting to create similar “sister cities” types of conferences around the world
    • Collaborative organizing
    • Include Victoria too!
  • Kinship areas btw YVR/SEA/PDX
    • Housing
    • Composting
    • Open data
    • Transportation
    • Small business
    • Food carts
    • Community-based broadband
    • Startup tech cos
    • Possible themes: Environment, Culture, Economy
  • Offline vs. offline issues
    • In-person conferences are great, but are expensive and by definition can only include a few people
    • Could have simultaneous conferences and stream video from different locations to each other (like when Tedx confs show videos)
    • Unconference format can be useful, but there may need to be an alternative for more in-depth discussions
  • How to keep the momentum between annual conferences
    • Regional awards / award ceremonies
    • Big event annually, smaller events throughout the year. E.g., Compost or Housing get-together / field trip / mini-conf
    • Online/offline: Universities like Emily Carr are good at connecting offline and online learning
    • Online tools: e.g. Maestroconference (conference call service that enables facilitators to break listeners into groups)
  • What exists now