In Summer 2021, we started planning the 5th International Ecosocialist Encounters.
We are a young, informal, dedicated group that values rotating roles.
The people who took up the initial task of setting up the launch had organized or actively participated in similar conferences, but had never conceptualized one. Where to start? What really matters? What is urgent? What issues should be left open for a participatory process? What should be decided in advance and clearly in order to mobilize groups and individuals when we make the proposal? What variables should we be preparing ourselves for?
We asked around. Loads of people kindly and generously gave us suggestions and recommendations. But no one really knew how to guide us through the uncertainties and ambiguities.
We had to improvise a lot.
At the end of the conference, in our internal evaluation meeting, we thought that a guide of how to organize international conferences would be extremely useful as well as completely irrelevant for us. It would be irrelevant, because very probably, most of it would not correspond to our context, needs and priorities. But it would be extremely useful because it would highlight what kind of questions we should be asking ourselves at what stage of the preparations.
We agreed: if there was such a guide, we would surely have read it through in Spring 2021, to later ignore it when we set up our own preparatory process.
So here it is.
We are aware that our target audience is extremely small. To begin with, the whole concept of the Encounters is informed by progressive values and ideological choices. Other conferences may be less ambitious on participatory processes, and yet others may be open to a wider political debate outside the ecosocialist ideals. Next, the Encounters in Lisbon were organized entirely by volunteers, which may not be your case. Perhaps most importantly, we are talking to core organizers of the/a conference. For the Encounters, that was two activists, to be later extended to a larger coordination team of ten people.
We still hope this document to be useful.