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The Urban Homesteaders' League Message Board Urban Homesteaders Discussion Forum › 11/14/11 Permaculture Convergence Scoping Meeting Notes @ Charlotte’s Ipswich

11/14/11 Permaculture Convergence Scoping Meeting Notes @ Charlotte’s Ipswich

A former member
Post #: 31
11/14/11 Permaculture Convergence Scoping Meeting @ Charlotte’s Ipswich

Introductions:
Jono, Kim, Lydia, Charlotte, Tory, Deb, Abbey, Lisa. Lydia will take notes, Deb will type and distribute them.

Lisa: Convergence is an opportunity to create a cohesive community in ME which didn’t really exist before.

Jono:
Brief Convergence History
2005- Started gathering people from different states and had the opportunity of David Holmgren’s visit. Gathered at Cold Springs Community Land Trust. They identified ways to support the network (founded Permaculture Institute North East PINE). The WIKI was launched. Discussion groups formed and the convergence grew out of it.
2006- D Acres hosted. Supported and energized the network. Since then convergences have been held annually.

How They Work
1. A convergence is a balance between information and networking/celebration. Hosting groups decide on the balance. There is dedicated time on the agenda for newcomers as well as workshops and learning.

2. Move convergence to different geographic locations so that a spotlight is brought to that area to energize that area and bring opportunities to expand the audience.

3. The convergences also bring a small surplus profit to the hosting area, and different groups have used that money differently. Some have provided scholarship funds, or mini-grants. PINE provides seed funding in the form of a revolving loan fund to the hosting area for the event. PINE supports the network as a non-profit with a board of directors from the different north east states.

4. The N.E. region spans from ME to NY including Maritime Canada, and neighboring states when located nearby. However, all permaculture folks are invited and some came from New Mexico at recent convergences.

5. Attendees have grown from 100 to over 300. How to plan for large numbers? Organizing team can decide what they can handle. It is likely that a lot of people will sign up and show up at the last minute. Will probably need to put a cap on registration because of venue and food decisions.

6. FOOD is very important. In ME they had a professional caterer and a volunteer crew for food distribution and cleanup. At Nuestras Raíces, Holyoke MA they had to build a kitchen to serve 100 people who attended.

Lisa: Process

1. Selection of date and venue by the end of December is critical, because many permaculture folks use the summer for teaching classes. Convergence is usually held around 4th of July weekend. Event must be affordable.

2. Organizing Group can change in size and scope over time. Initial team is 5-6 people, with another 5-6 people coming in a few months later and another 5-6 people coming in later. Initial team would take on the roles of several sub-committees (see below) and then as more folks became involved the initial team the additional roles would be given to them.
NOTE that people will join when they see initial progress being made.
a. Set up regular standing monthly meetings until Feb. Have a call in option. Then move to three week intervals for meetings, and by April meet every two weeks.
b. Articulate value of the team members up front, so that this is a respect building experience:
• No organizer relationships will be harmed in the execution of this event.
• Assume that everyone is doing the best they can.
c. Organizing team sub-committees included the following:
1) Rotating Facilitation- 2 to 3 people.
2) Logistics- signage, first-aid, tenting, etc.
3) Food- meals, snack station
4) Field Trips
5) Marketing/Outreach (included electronic communications, Facebook, Google docs)
6) Kids/Youth
7) Magic and Fun- spontaneous art, music, etc.
8) Volunteer organizer

3. Venue Criteria
a. Handle the maximum participants
b. Handle food service (some only allow their own food to be served)
c. Have enough break out spaces for sessions
d. Have a big space for the plenary for everyone
f. Have accommodations, including camping, homestays, couch surfing etc.
f. Easy access to public transit (commuter rail?) and parking availability
g. Allow hands on projects such as swale digging
h. Affordable insurance (have had co-sponsors insurance coverage)
i. Openness to permaculture (connection to it, local groups who support it)
j. Bonus features such as swimming hole, lake, labyrinth, fire pit?

4. Timing Criteria
a. Expectation of 4th of July weekend.
b. Possibly choose a weekend that is the same every year (2nd or 3rd weekend in July) but not 4th when family events often take precedence. Value in providing a traditional weekend, such as NOFA.

5. Other information:
a. 50% of attendees are from the local area (affects accommodations as they will often be day attendees)
b. Set up a theme to focus the event
c. Field trips are usually scheduled before the actual Convergence, on Thursday and or Friday, and sometimes need shuttle busses.
d. PINE (Lisa and Jono, for example) have checklists, spreadsheets, and can put together key milestone dates which should be shared with the organizing team to assist. PINE is creating a handbook with these documents to support future Convergences.
e. Tory would like to be involved with the food piece.
f. Deb has skills on logistics and organizing if on campuses, having worked on Society of College and University Planning conferences.
g. Call for presenters in January, which can be automated with Google forms.
h. Registration is easiest on-line.
i. Remember to schedule time after the convergence to debrief and provide support for next year’s team.
j. Activities have included the Permaculture Olympics (Jono has details).

6. Potential Venues brainstorming:
a. Concord Academy and other independent schools such as Phillips Andover Academy (has permaculture openness Jono says)
b. Waldorf Schools
c. Colleges and Universities:
a. UMass Boston
b. UMass Dartmouth-Bioneers and Marion Institute
c. Tufts
d. MIT
e. Wheaton College
f. Simmons
g. Bristol Community College, Northern Essex Community College
h. State Universities such as Bridgewater, Salem State
i. Boston University
d. On campus student groups can provide great energy in organizing the Convergence.
e. Educational institutions have an office of external affairs to handle outside events.
f. Farms such as Allendale, Soule Homestead, Appleton (Trustees of Reservations, Charlotte will contact them), Biodynamic Farm in Harvard (Check Edible Boston for more opportunities for venues and caterers)
g. Fairgrounds such as Topsfield, Marshfield

7. Organizing Finances:
a. Can create a separate incorporation or use initial team tax ID number. Which one of us has the capacity to set up a bank account that way?
b. Can use PINE however must submit a proposal to be accepted to do so.
Need to appoint a person as bookkeeper/accountant.
c. Venue costs have ranged from $0, to $500 to $3,800.

ACTIONS:
a. Doodle poll for next meeting to involve more folks- Charlotte
b. Contact potential venues on above lists- Kim and Lydia
c. Contact Trustees of Reservations- Charlotte
d. Type and distribute notes for this meeting- Deb
e. Get together and transmit forms, timelines and checklists- Jono and Lisa
f. Food- Tory
g. Abbey will attend the next meeting and can provide assistance and support.

NOTE: Notes should be typed live at the meetings so it is easy and quick to get them out.
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