Hello there! People have been asking us lots of questions about the details of facilitation during Pollination, including what is happening during the Action Incubator and Governance Hackathon sessions. I’m going to break this down as much as I can at this point in time, so you can grasp the emergent nature of this process, and participate if you want to!
We describe Pollination as an interactive, nex-gen conference experience. We are gathering at this event to cultivate emergent Collective Wisdom and catalyze real-world local action. The event itself is one waypoint in a year-long process of incubation, action, and celebration.
There will be few times where someone is on stage talking at you. We’ll mostly be in small breakout groups workshopping together. It’s a bit more like a hackathon.
In future years, we plan to also have a more public exhibition aspect to the event, similar to Maker Faire, but full of immersive, experiential demos. For example you could experience a restorative justice circle, a family constellation healing, or bask in the glow of an altar to all things mushrooms (for food, medicine, toxic cleanup, and even plastics replacements).
This first year, we are doing a small version of the event and primarily focusing on a thing we call the Action Incubator. That’s the year-long process I mentioned. Its formation is an emergent process so far, and necessarily so. There will be more detailed clarity soon about how the Action Incubator sessions will be facilitated, and what the specific goal of each is. The reason we’ve been letting our program form in an emergent way, is so that it is more community-driven and responsive.
A design team of Mansi Kakkar and Magenta (one of the advisors is named Manual Maqueda – team Ma!) are sitting down to begin working out a structure to support the process, beginning late May and completing by the end of June. From that, we’ll know how each session will be facilitated, and by then we’ll have a clear sense of the kinds of case studies we’ll want to bring to the event.
As participants complete registration, we gather information about current offerings of their organizations and communities, as well as work to identify the gaps, resources, needs or questions they have individually or as a collective. Everyone involved in the event actively shapes the genesis of this annual innovation program. A lot of organic mutually supportive relationships are forming now even just through dialogue about the event, and among people who commit to attending.
It truly is an emergent, collaborative, collective intelligence thing that is happening here. As we design the sessions in more detail, we will also be landing what exact skillshares, trainings, or case studies will be presented. Please read the Action Incubator description on the program page – that is the clearest description that exists so far of what is going on there, and more details will be fleshed out by the end of June.
We are committed to building this event in a way that is mutually nourishing to all stakeholders. This is part of why designing the facilitation for it has been such a slow process. It’s a big frame we are working with, across a lot of spectrums of difference. The people coming so far tend to be working at edges of innovation (of finance, of culture, of collaborative approach) that are past where we can really go as individual organizations. To some extent my experience of what is happening so far through Pollination, is that organizations and communities are finding each other and forming symbiotic relationships.
This is where the governance hackathon aspect of Pollination comes in. Part of the Action Incubator tentative plan, is to identify what areas of focus we collectively want to get behind as a networked distributed community over the coming year, to nourish with our collective resources, to maximally benefit all of us and the communities we are in connection with. By “we” I mean the people participating in Pollination and Bloom Network as a whole. (footnote: both of these things are simply containers for people to meet through to share resources and mutually support each other. Bloom Network is modeled on a mushroom metaphor – like mushrooms in nature are a mycelial network for plants and animals, minerals and water, to exchange nutrients that support life and diversity.)
There is a strong frame of equity and inclusion in this participatory process, which we have yet to write out in full. We are being mindful to be anti-colonial in approach, as one example. Another example is that we have a goal of at least 33% people of color in any space we’re curating, so that white supremacy does not run the container. Currently the leadership of Bloom Network is mostly settlers (non-Native people), however most of our local organizers are in direct relationship with the original peoples where we live, and being as accountable as we’re capable of as we wade further into this process. For example, one proposal that has surfaced is to build an app for a voluntary Native land tax that could be participated in by any company or community interfacing with Bloom Network or more broadly. There are a lot of complexities with nutting something like out, but an example of the participatory nature of this process is that anyone working on any part of Bloom Network is asked to be a good listener and receptive to what the people living in and near their bioregion are requesting to be healthy and well. The construction of our programs, and our online platforms, is likewise a responsive, communities-led, bioregionally anchored process.
Going back to the governance hackathon aspect of this event. It is possible we are going to shift that piece, to doing it as a series of smaller events leading up to Pollination. For example, one thing we need is a finance mechanism to support cross-sector pooling of funds, and the governance tools for a balanced community of stakeholders to make informed decisions together about where best to allocate resources. Based on our experience (the various leaders involved with producing Pollination and the Action Incubator, who are each anchored in different companies and locations), some of the capacity gaps in terms of financing regenerative spectrum initiatives, at a systemic level, are directly related to limits of our existing sector structures for finance. [I would like to include a breakdown of our research here at some point, as a wiki article.]
In June we will be convening a finance mechanisms mastermind with a balanced set of stakeholders, fintech, and legal professionals to talk about how we can create a structure for collaborative finance, to be used in the Action Incubator and Bloom Network as a whole, and also as open I.P. for any other collective for which it is supportive. Two of the digital tools we think could be good fits for this are SWARM and Aragon
Another example of the participatory nature of the Action Incubator, is that we are working on formalizing partnerships with some crews related to it. Buckminster Fuller Institute has recently done a set of think tank research on Ocean Health, and is in the process of finalizing a set of reports about their findings. These will be included in the incubator, as part of the collective decision making process about what projects and teams to support. An unknown to me until Mansi and I get farther into the incubator design, is how much we will formally support projects through mentorship and finances, and how much we will set up a structure for people to directly support each other. It’s going to have to be both, and it might include deal-flow matching, and/or peer webinars to share best practice.
NRhythm is another company we’re in the early stages of discussing partnership with. They train people in regenerative organization design, anchored in health of the individuals and larger social/ecological contexts involved. One possibility of how that partnership lands, is that they would be participating as consultants to support the formation of the Action Incubator’s collaborative or incubated initiatives, in a way that is regenerative and healthy to everyone involved or affected.
Due to limited finances at this stage, Mansi and I are a two-person core design team. However, we intend to invite more people as we build capacity. She will likely direct that process, as she has much more experience than I do with designing innovation programs and their facilitation, and she brings a deep knowledge and experience of the details of the equity and regenerativity frames that need to be solid. I will ask her for permission to link to the white paper for the collective she co-founded and is primarily anchored in. You can read about it on their website, The Social Innovation Collective: https://www.thesocialinnovationcollective.org/aboutus
To all participating speakers and partners of Pollination, as well as everyone attending, if you want to be part of this pre-event process please get it touch. There is a partner application here that we ask collaborators to filter through. We will be communicating with people when there are clear engagement points we know of. A welcome questionnaire will be going out soon-ish. And in late June we will onboard everyone into our digital networking platform to support deeper peer networking and collaboration prior to, during, and after Pollination.
To pull back from this breakdown of structural and systems stuff, I want to zoom back to the immersive arts piece again. Remember that mushroom art installation I mentioned above? By 2020 we should have capacity to place this in an exposition area that is literally going to look like a rainbow honeycomb playground for adults. “That Thing in the Desert” is a huge inspiration to many local Bloom organizers, and to this event. People bring their gifts to inspire and nourish each other, and people schedule immersive experiences and workshops. Once we get to the larger scale of Pollination that we’re planning for, that kind of participatory-ness will happen. Think Maker Faire but all things regenerative culture, with an added think tank / incubator component to potentiate collaboration among the makers, and to apply their innovations to society’s most pressing problems and potentials. This year we’re mostly developing that collaboration piece.
Jessica Perlstein captured the essence of this event in the logo she created, based on a deep process that a 6-person Experience Design and Facilitation team went through last year. We believe in the power of art to evoke emotional connection and novel awareness, and we are working toward building capacity for an artists grants program to support interactive art and design at Pollination.
We look forward to cross-pollinating with you in inspiring, nourishing, consensual ways.
Magenta Ceiba, ECO (executive creative officer), Bloom Network