Unconference – HD 720p from Wicked Elephants on Vimeo.

Our vision for our Unconference was to bring people from all over the world together to talk about wicked problems. WE wanted to talk – differently. To make a shift from a talking heads talking style of talking, which tends toward a rational intellectual logic, to include the breadth of other senses, to engage another set of logics. WE wanted to support a shift from ‘informing’ to ‘inspiring’, to shift from one modality to ‘a mix of modalities’ from ‘fact and figures’ to stories and metaphor’,  from ‘expert to whole person’, from ‘absorbing information to co-creating’.

WE value relationships over information. We believe the quality of our relationship drives the quality of action and we designed the Unconference around that value.


Our Unconference began with a more conventional platform. WE hosted a facilitated conversation between folx engaged in different WP  – agriculture, environment, activism, indigendous, corporate culture, health.

The 75 minute conversation facilitated by the highly skilled facilitator, teacher, Zen Roshi,  Diane Musho Hamilton aimed at shifting from ‘experts’ sharing their expert knowledge to a more personal dimension of engagement – where had their work touched them personally,  what had they learnt and what were they curious to hear  from each other? These shifts evoked a quality of conversation that diverged from the norm of a logical linear progression. We were able to  explore what was emerging between people (conversationalists) from their experiences. This allowed for seemingly random, non linear and surprising information to emerge like a story about a man, a failing kidney, pink shoes and the primacy of relationship in dealing with Wicked Problems!

In alignment with our intention to shift away from intellect and  logic we purposefully didn’t invite a Q & A but invited a response from our audience from  other senses -seeing, feeling and sensing. To deepen the quality of relationship emerging between us we all moved into breakout rooms for coffee meetups. Engaging different modalities for sense-making we integrated and expanded the morning session through Playback Theatre – improvised theatre created from an audience sharing their personal experiences. Playback believes – ‘your story is the story of the universe’ – the individual reflects the whole; it expresses a microcosm of the whole system.

Day 2 – ACTION

For the shift into action we utilised Open Space Technology. This conferencing process enabled us to shift away from the all knowing expert who shares their information to enlivening and accessing the expertise in the group.

Some of the Open Space Topics

Passion Pods – take action for collaborative response
Pathways toward action
Dialogue through poetry
Embodied practices for navigating complexity
Yarning about complex systems for collaborative action
Listening to the ‘enemy’
Listening translated into action
The Chevron pattern and climate change

Participant responses –

Thanks Everyone. I didn’t expect such involvement. Loved the facilitation of interaction!
you are never insignificant
The beauty of opening/connecting
the meaningful connection with strangers becoming friends especially through breakouts
this is how the world changes – connect, connect, connect
remember open heartedness despite the odds

WE aim to fine tune and repeat this format again in 2021 – as we explore the perennial pathway of engaging us all in Wicked Problems in ways that enliven, in ways that help us bridge and work with the chasms of separation between us.  

Please join our mailing list, follow us on Facebook and Linked In- get involved, step up as a conversationalist – join with us as we witness and create an alive culture that doesn’t turn away from the Wickedness that surrounds us but co-creates a future where all life thrives on this beautiful planet of which we are custodians. 

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