Conferences That Work spotlight—Community Jam Northern California Harvesting/Gleaning Conference

Community Jam This is the first post in an occasional series spotlighting conferences using the Conferences That Work format. If you are planning such a conference, please contact me—perhaps you’ll be featured here too! Here’s a description of the Community Jam Northern California Harvesting/Gleaning Conference.

We’ve got to the point where people are holding Conferences That Work all over the world. I often don’t learn about them until they’re over—sometimes years later. People buy the book and use it as their guide to create their own events. That’s fine by the way; I love how this approach to participant-driven events has spread and taken a life of its own. And I’m proud that the book is comprehensive enough to allow readers to create, market, and run a successful participant-led and participation-rich event. As a result, Conferences That Work is being adopted as a textbook by college event management programs.

Sometimes I get advance knowledge of an upcoming conference (and when I do I happily add it to my conference calendar). So I thought it might be interesting to occasionally spotlight examples of these conferences that I hear about. Here’s one!

Community Jam Northern California Harvesting/Gleaning Conference — Saturday, June 8 2013, San Jose, CA

Village Harvest is a nonprofit volunteer organization in Northern California that harvests extra fruit from backyards and small orchards. They pass on the fruit to local food agencies to feed the hungry in the community. Since its founding in 2001, volunteers have harvested a total of 3.8 million servings of nutritious fruit. Village Harvest has become one of the oldest and largest organizations of this type in the world.

Early in 2013 the founders decided to organize a Community Jam regional conference for Northern California harvesting/gleaning organizations. Although the event focussed on organizations within a 2 hour drive of the San Jose venue, the organizers discovered that many peer organizations outside their region wanted to attend. As I write this, Community Jam has 56 registrants from 24 different organizations ranging from Salem, OR to Los Angeles.

The Community Jam conference modified slightly the single day Conferences That Work format. With only seven hours together, Chapter 16’s model schedule is simplified and shortened from its original 8 1/2 hour length. The conference committee decided to shorten the roundtable sharing time and eliminate the first of the Three Questions, to use dot voting for the peer session sign-up instead of the usual more comprehensive process, and to reduce the length of the closing group spective. By cutting breaks to a minimum, they have squeezed in a fourth round of peer sessions.

Although I’m not generally a fan of minimizing breaks at conferences, you can often get away with this at a one-day Conferences That Work event because most people are able to maintain a high level of involvement during a full day of interesting experiences. Still, this event will be a bit of a rush—with the rush, hopefully, also expressed via the energy and enthusiasm shared at the event.

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