What the heck is Upswell?

What the heck is Upswell?

// By Christian Clansky

When you put something new into the world, there are bound to be (more than) a few questions! So, welcome to our What the heck? series, where we’ll give you short overviews of new concepts, terms, program elements, etc.

To kick things off, we’ll start with a question that’s not so easy to answer. What the heck is Upswell?

Upswell grows out of the tradition of the Independent Sector conference, which brought together leaders from nonprofits and foundations once a year to learn from and connect with each other. It was a successful, and fairly contained, model that strengthened a community within the charitable sector.

But we have a sense that there is a much bigger opportunity to be seized.

In a “big, hairy, audacious goal” kind of way, Upswell is a reimagination of the very notion of a conference. Some elements will feel familiar…and some definitely won’t. Our aim is to create a highly interactive experience where you’ll learn new skills, build deeper relationships, be out in the community, and, most importantly, collaborate on action-oriented projects. Upswell is where we’ll create change together rather than just talking about it.

There are two key levels for accomplishing this: people and place.

Upswell is for anyone who identifies as a changemaker. People are doing good in all kinds of ways, so we want to create an environment that celebrates the diversity of methods and missions. Just as importantly, we want Upswell to be huge. More changemakers together means more ideas, more energy, more action.

Upswell is also being designed to forge a more meaningful connection between local knowledge and national practice. That’s to say that we know every community has wisdom to share about issues that impact all of us. So, in each city that Upswell visits, we’ll be intentional about learning deeply and locally. There are more than 10,000 changemaking organizations in LA, for example. We’ve got a lot to learn!

As Upswell builds energy, you’ll hear a lot more about what makes it different. Keep an eye on the blog and you’ll see how things are fitting together.

And, if you want the best answer to What the heck is Upswell, we hope you’ll join us in LA this November!

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