Upswell 101: Understanding the design

Upswell 101: Understanding the design

// By Christian Clansky

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

We heard it over and over at the first Upswell in Los Angeles last November: “This doesn’t feel like any conference I’ve ever been to!” That’s exactly the reaction we wanted, because we didn’t set out create just another conference.

Upswell is different by design. From choosing a name to choosing neighborhood dinners, from hiring local community organizers to crowdsourcing national content, we threw out the conference playbook and designed Upswell “from the ground up” as a totally new experience.

Wondering how Upswell came to be and why it’s so different? Here’s a look back at how a bold idea evolved into a mighty community of changemakers.

What the Heck Is Upswell?

Believe us, we got that question a lot in the beginning (and sometimes wondered ourselves!). Here’s our take on this “big, hairy, audacious goal” when the wave was just starting to swell.

From the IS Conference to Upswell: How We Got from There to Here

Independent Sector has been bringing together changemakers with diverse missions and backgrounds for almost 40 years. Here’s the thinking behind how Upswell took the “meeting ground” concept to the next level to put “action” toward solving social challenges.

The Story Behind the Name

It took a while to catch on, a slow burn of sorts, but when the name took off – it spread like a wildfire! But where’d that name Upswell come from, anyway?

How We Found the Upswell Look
So we had the name – Upswell. But like any great idea, we needed to brand it, to make everything associated with Upswell – including the name – meaningful, easy to recognize, and impossible to forget.

The Aesthetic of Upswell LA
It wasn’t enough for Upswell to look different. It had to feel different. Here’s how we integrated “experiential” visual arts into the design aesthetic to provide an organic feeling as unique as the Upswell experience.

Turning Upswell Concepts Into Well-Received Reality
To give changemakers a real taste of LA community changework, two outstanding community organizers helped us get Upswell attendees out of the hotel for innovative half-day neighborhood tours and mouth-watering dinners. As good as they are, even our community organizers were amazed at the results!

1600 900 Christian Clansky
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