Monday, March 15, 2010

Designing events to engage

After a year of giving speeches, presentations, teaching classes, and hosting events about Transition Town OKC, we decided to mix it up a little by changing our typical format to something more interactive. We hosted a 1 1/2 hour event called Discover Transition, which was designed to be an introduction to the Transition Town model for people interested in starting their own initiative, or considering attending our Training 4 Transition event on April 10 - 11.

At past events, we've used a Power Point, tried to encourage some audience participation, and occasionally included some kind of "envisioning a positive future with less energy" activity. This time, at our first TTOKC-hosted public awareness evening, we took a few cues from the Transition Handbook on how to engage with people. Our schedule proceeded like this:

- Start with a prop: one cup of oil launches the introduction.

- Power Point: The Transition Town model

- Activity in teams: "All of these things are like the others," examinining items in a bag to see what they all have in common (they are all made of oil-derived polymers)

- Power Point: The need for an energy transition

- Activity: In partners, discuss three things you will miss about the cheap oil age and three things you will look forward to about an age where oil is no longer cheap

- Power Point: 12 steps of transition model (with examples from Transitions around the world)

- Activity: In partners, design a tour of an OKC that has $20 / gallon gasoline but is thriving because we have completed our energy transition

- Power Point: TTOKC activities, ideas for change, resources

- Activity: Post-it note wall with four colored post-its for each person (One thing I can do, One thing TTOKC could do, One thing city govt. could do, One other thought)

You can see we changed pace and activities frequently to keep things flowing. An hour and a half was definitely cutting it close for this amount of information and interactivity, but people seemed to stay engaged and interested.

As far as logistics go, we had cake, cider, and water available, fresh flowers for the sign in table, name tags, bookmarks and registration forms to hand out, Post-its for the Post it activity, and an email sign up list available. We also had our props: a cup of used motor oil in a glass jar and two bags full of oil-derived objects (plastic toys, polyester clothes, CDs, nail polish, Tupperware, etc).

We were able to offer this event at very low cost to ourselves (no cost to participants) due to the generosity of our local Sierra Club, who loaned us the space and their projector, by providing refreshments ourselves, and using low-cost marketing tools. Marketing was done via our website, our Facebook page (which we recently started), through Constant Contact mailings to our email list, and the Sustainable OKC listserv.

I enjoyed not having all of the attention be on ME throughout the evening- letting people chat, network, and generate ideas with each other was great. I think we'll use this revised format again.

1 comment:

Sharlene T. said...

It's always nice to shake things up. Stops everyone from becoming too complacent. Very proud to know you. Keep on truckin'