Upswell 101: Understanding the community

Upswell 101: Understanding the community

// By Christian Clansky

This post is one in a three-part introduction to the Upswell experience. Other installments focus on the program and design.

We like to say that Upswell is a community rather than a conference, but what does that mean, exactly? It’s hard to explain a “sense of community,” and harder still to build it into a three-day gathering.

We listened, and we traveled, and we listened some more. We visited multiple locations around the country, including Los Angeles, to talk first-hand with changemakers about the issues confronting the communities where they lived, and how they are addressing them. Human-Centered Design played a big role, keeping us honest about Upswell being designed “by humans, for humans,” reflecting real community needs and concerns.

At the end of the day, you probably can’t fully grasp Upswell’s sense of community until you experience it – but here are a few top blog posts that might give you just a taste.

Upswell Begins with Humans
We didn’t want Upswell to be “just another conference.” So we applied what we learned at a Human-Centered Design workshop in Detroit, the site of the “last” IS conference, to shift toward making Upswell what we wanted it to be: community.

What the heck is a changemaker?
We made sure to design Upswell to create a community of changemakers. But, what the heck IS a changemaker?

“We have an Upswell”
We couldn’t hold Upswell in Los Angeles without the input of changemakers in our host city. And so we sat down with 65 changemakers who brought their own unique energy, experiences, and ideas to our discussion about what Upswelll should be.

The Wave of Youth at Upswell
There was a secret sauce to the energy of Upswell – the fountain of youth! From panel discussions and I.T. demonstrations, to lively musical performances—young people really made a “splash” at Upswell LA.

Coloring and creating community together
At Upswell LA, changemakers were “tickled pink” to have the opportunity to literally engage in our favorite childhood pastime together, “coloring” the community we wanted to see.

1600 900 Christian Clansky
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