What is an unconference?
An unconference is, well, whatever you want it to be. The Melbourne Development Circle has run an unconference for the last three years, inspired by Melbourne's Trampoline Day, and the concept that all of the good stuff that comes out of a conference comes from the moments between the presentations. The unconference is a day of idea sharing, discussions and participation between the participants. It's the participants that make the show, decide what is going to be discussed and then lead those discussions. It's a conference without the boring bits.
On Saturday, the Melbourne Development Circle held their annual unconference in partnership with Friends of Australian Volunteers International at AVI's office in Fitzroy. Sixty odd people working in, or with a passion for, community development braved the Melbourne weather and turned up to discuss domestic violence, participatory development, theatre as a tool for social change and the skills needed for work in community development.
My favourite discussions though centred on women's empowerment both in a development context and an Australian context. Relevant to me was the role that men can play in supporting women's empowerment by being an ally. By asking questions about what an ally is, by listening to what women say, by stepping down from the pedestal we have built for ourselves rather than trying to push women up to it. To stand together. To speak out against the cat-callers, the sleazebags and the trolls.
The whole gallery can be seen on the Melbourne Development Circle's facebook page.