Autumn Assembly: Weds 25th Oct - Thurs 26th Oct

Our first major event will take place in October at the BMI in Birmingham.

Post questions and suggestions about the event here or by all means add topic suggestions directly to this Doc in the usual worker co-op weekend style.

The event page is here, but not adding booking/ticket prices yet as still ironing a few things out.

Whats the thinking so far:

  • First half day starts with a load small meet-ups so you can find and get to know people in similar co-ops, roles or geographical locations
  • Will then have a Full member meeting to do a bit of formal feeding back, celebrating and discussing
  • There will be a party on the first night
  • The following day will be a bit un-conferency quite a few sessions pre-prepared based on member input and direcion but with some space for people to create new sessions as the event evolves.

Pricing: (not yet finalised)

  • Bursay: £50
  • Standard (cost recovery): £100
  • Solidarity: £150

One question I have is, do we make this a strictly member only event? or do we let non-members attend but charge them the Solidarity rate?

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I think it’s down to the purpose of the event. Allowing non-members at Solidarity rate is not a bad idea BUT if we are using the workshops to inform workers.coop should it be members only? And do we risk airing our dirty linen in public at a full members meeting with lots of frank and honest discussion if non-members are present. I don’t want anyone to feel they have to “perform” in front of outsiders rather than disclosing what they really think.

Yeah that’s why I’m learning to it being a member only event, also mean it makes people on tehe fence actually join.

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Matt and I have been discussing this since we are working on putting on the next all hands meeting.

As some of you will know the all hands meeting was open and the issue that you have mentioned Nathan did come up. Some people I spoke to did feel uncomfortable about airing their dirty laundry. But also the prospective member I spoke to got a lot out of the meeting and had nothing but praise for the meeting! Making me feel that we should keep it open.

Also as someone who went to radical routes gatherings as an inexperience cooperator and was exposed to it warts and all from an early stage, I think it is a valuable experience. I don’t think we need to hide our conflicts, and that is a very traditional way of image management. Aren’t we often telling groups how they need to accept conflict as an inevitability and a chance for growth rather than a sign of weakness.

One piece of learning that I think there is from the all hands meeting is that the expectation needs to be there on both sides that - members can air their issues without awkwardness and that prospective members are to expect some fireworks, but not to fear, its all part of the process of working together.

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There’s an opportunity to consult with non-member coops, and find out what sort of themes/topics would draw them to an event (it could make for a less sales pitchy first contact/follow-up). Hopefully those topics align with the skills and knowledge we have within the fed, overlap with the topics that members would like to run/attend, and the people with the knowledge have the capacity to run a workshop. It could make for a more personal introduction to the fed.

eta: maybe have an un-conference/second day ticket.

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I lean in to an open event, if it’s a conference rather than a decision-making General Meeting, with space to explore both big themes/high level purposes, and laundry/practical learning. It needs a working title that projects something about our vision and mission (off the top of my head, maybe something like “Mobilise, educate, organise” or “Worker cooperation - our key to unlock change” or “Worker cooperatives - dismantling inequality” with “workers.coop Autumn Assembly 2023” as its subtitle. We’d need some kind of keynote content (written and/or spoken) elaborating the theme, and workshop-type content building on it, maybe on the first day; with the second day more open and space to ‘unconference’. If it’s spoken, I’ve got an idea who might make a good, challenging but comradely guest ‘headliner’ - Cheryl Barrott, whose panel on disability and cooperation at Co-ops UK’s congress was great, and who wants to build dialogue and collaboration between the worker and social co-op sectors, which is also one of our aims.

I feel we can be confident about finding the right vibe and accommodating all sorts of people. On the other hand, if people aren’t feeling so confident, and want to talk mainly to each other, we can make it smaller and deliberative/combine with a GM with a member-curated decision making agenda, i.e. for members and registered supporters only, and do something more open next year.

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This is why we need the Comms teams input on the marketing! My sense for our first year is it needs to focus on brining members together and giving us a better sense of ourselves and what we need to do (A lot!). I think next year is when we do a more outward facing event and invite external speakers etc.

We need to be clear what this is and isn’t. The blurb said this is Members Meeting and the word Assembly sounds very General Meeting like to me. At the risk of repeating myself, can we get some agreement on what the purpose of the event is and then work from there?

To me it’s a conference - not a decision-making General Meeting, unless that’s what we want instead, or as a section of the programme. For the conference part I prefer the term Congress, which is the term used by other co-op movement bodies for such an event. (On the other hand, worker union federations use the term Congress and have votes - but the votes can be advisory rather than binding on the committee/board. Perhaps @AthertonJohn this is what you mean by ‘a bit of formal feeding back?’ I doubt our lot would be satisfied with that!

Assembly implies decision making to me, too. It’s the term used by other worker co-op feds around the world, and a General Assembly is what we also call an AGM.

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So just to clarify a few things:

  • Its called the "Autumn Assembly" its not called a Congress and trying not to say conference as both sound a little boring and confusing with the sort of event Co-operatives UK would run, which this isn’t.
  • It’s purpose as per the description on the website is:
    “Our first opportunity to get as many members together. To build a community, celebrate our successes and work together on our challenges.

Which means:

  • We’re focusing on members, not external promotion or outreach
  • The first set of sessions are specifically aimed at getting members together to connect with similar people and build our sense of community
  • Then a Members meeting, tho not a “formal” one as we are doing that a month before online (info coming out soon). But the assumption is we will do two formal members meetings a year one at the worker co-op weekend and one at the Autumn Assembly, so good to get into the habit.
  • Then there is a party to celebrate and have some fun
  • The following day we have intentionaly left pretty blank to see what members suggest, we are assuming (and will prioritise) a range of sessions aimed discussing our progress, strategy, the work of working groups, getting feedback and opportunities for some member learning.

Hope that makes sense.

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Have we got an opportunity for people to come for one day only? Can they pay for one day?

October 25th, 2023 1:00 PM - Why are you starting the assembly so late? Means half 1,5 days of events occupy 2 days of work. Finishing at 4pm.

What’s the reasoning? Can this not be one day of events, or 2 full days + afterparty drinks.

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Reasoning is that starting earlier on the first day will mean people travelling from SW or Scotland would need to stay the night before this way we equalise the cost.
We also save half a day of room hire and catering so two full days would cost more.

And no, its one price to attend the event however much of it people come to. If pirce is a factor there is a bursary rate of £50 planned

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I’ve just created another thread to help everyone share and coordinate around ACCOMMODATION for the Assembly. There are 5 links to hostels and hotels that I have found so far. Hopefully it is a helpful resource.

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