The third Digital Mobilisation Skillshare, which took place 11-14 February 2014 at La Tenuta dei Ciclamini, Rome, gathered over 130 individuals engaged in people-powered campaigning and digital mobilisation from all Greenpeace offices in the world, including campaigners, communicators, digital specialists and volunteer coordinators, among others.
Attendees represented 45 different countries, speaking over 30 different languages, all committed to taking their mobilisation skills to the next level.
Unlike most conferences, participants spent most of their time in small groups, facilitated by peers, on topics generated by the group.
Four main themes guided discussions at the skillshare:
Designed to initiate a transformative and experiential learning experience for participants to kickstart/develop/improve leadership skills in a safe and supportive environment. Distributed campaigning provides an opportunity and a window for Greenpeace to take mobilisation efforts to the next level, so let’s get our community ready to step up and take the lead!
Campaign pitching and planning
Develop and contribute to proposals and plans for distributed campaigns while developing our skills and processes in collaborative planning to support campaigns.
Strengthening our network
Connect participants to share skills, learning and experiences and build a community that works collaboratively to achieve Greenpeace’s goals.
Raising the bar
Develop a shared vision for what raising our mobilisation ambitions could look like and how we might achieve this. The new operational model is an invitation to do things differently, so this is an opportunity to set out sights higher and figure our how we can achieve more together.
Co-creating the agenda
The focus on the first morning was on getting to know one another, and on additional work to “hack” an agenda that had been slowly taking shape over the last weeks and months.
The agenda drew all topics and sessions from participants themselves to make sure the content was fully focused on their experience and their objectives, using a powerful “co-creation” format.
Participants had been invited to propose ideas for sessions in the run-up to the event to “rack leads” for four thematic tracks: Leadership, Campaign Pitching, Building a Network and Raising the Bar, with the opportunity to suggest new session ideas as the event went on, such as crowdfunding, technology for mass engagement, techniques for pitching, and using video for mobilisation.
As facilitator Allen Gunn put it, “No death by powerpoint. No death by reportback. The focus is on collaboration and conversation, not slide decks. You can go to YouTube for that.”
As well as creating the agenda directly from their interests and concerns the Digital Mobilisation Skillshare puts participants’ expertise front and centre of the event content.
This was the third Digital Mobilisation Skillshare facilitated by Allen Gunn (or “Gunner”) of Aspiration. The tools and techniques freely available on the Aspiration website are a fantastic resource for anyone looking to organise community-led participatory events.
Beyond co-creating the agenda, attendees took up full responsibility for running individual sessions. Anyone could propose and facilitate a session, acknowledging that the purpose was not to present all the answers, but to draw on the knowledge of the group to come up with answers, and pose new questions.
Overall, the event emphasised that the most helpful input could come from anywhere. Passion often translates into a strong desire to talk and there’s no doubt that everyone in attendance had something valuable to share, but at skillshare participants were encouraged to limit the length of time they spoke and to make sure that all voices were heard.
There was a reason for this beyond good manners. It leads to better learning. No matter how dazzling the information you want to share, you stand a better chance of getting people to truly understand it if they engage with it on their own terms.
Watch highlights of the first day and entire skillshare below:
We produced several reports based on presentations and discussions at the skillshare:
Digital storytelling lessons from the campaign to free the Arctic 30
What Greenpeace tested and learned about digital storytelling during its campaign to have the Arctic 30 released by Russia.
Trained volunteers create a successful anti-nuclear campaign
A look at how organisations are supporting grassroots volunteer networks to lead campaigns – a story from the 2014 Digital Mobilisation Skillshare.
Thanks to Shirley Johansson for contributing her photography skills to DMS 2014.
Participants were very clear about the concrete value of the networks and connections they made at the DMS.
“This is the third DMS I’ve attended. I get so much out of it. It’s brilliant for making the connections and finding the people who really know about something, right down to the nitty gritty. ‘Great, I know there’s a guy in Serbia, or wherever, who is good on this, I know who to talk to’.”
—Mike, Greenpeace Africa
“As we do more remote working, that personal connection with colleagues is ever more important. For example, I don’t think I could have done what we did for Arctic 30, taking on the rolling 24-hour Twitter response, without the relationships I had built at the DMS.”
—Jamie, Greenpeace Australia
“Amazing place + amazing people + amazing minds = amazing new friends <3”
—Amanda, Greenpeace Brazil
“This was magic happening… DMS is the renewable source of power for the whole year.”
—Bohdan, Greenpeace CEE