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ORDER EMERGING FROM CHAOS: THE CASE OF THE URBAN CAMPUS OF TECHO

We assisted in the design and facilitation of an Open Space in which thousands of young people and inhabitants of popular settlements throughout Latin America participated.


BACKGROUND:


TECHO is a non-profit organization that is present in 19 countries in Latin America and seeks to overcome the situation of poverty in which millions of people live in popular settlements, through the joint work between its inhabitants and youth volunteers. As part of its CiudadesXJóvenes campaign, it brought together close to 1,000 young people and inhabitants of popular settlements for 4 days in Buenos Aires, Argentina, in an event called Campus Urbano; with the aim of adding the voice of youth to the Regional Action Plan of the NAU and the SDGs.



LISTENING TO THE CHALLENGE:


TECHO approached us with a clear challenge: to collaborate together to create and facilitate spaces that would nurture the Regional Action Plan through concrete proposals. The objective of these spaces is that they should be participative first and foremost; and that none of the participating voices would be lost in the crowd. In addition, we generated an agility workshop with the TECHO team, during which we developed training in different agile methodologies and tools so that they would be prepared for the event. Also, in this workshop we reflected on the dynamics of work in the organization.


METHODOLOGICAL DESIGN:


The Kubadili and TECHO teams opted to generate an Open Space during the Urban Campus; a methodology that allows large groups of people to have simultaneous and self-organized conversations, defining the agenda collaboratively. However, when it came time to start planning this ambitious event, new challenges soon arose.


Initially, TECHO works with housing conflicts in fragmented and chaotic cities. This translated into the need to record the dissimilar experiences of the people who inhabit each particular territory throughout the event, be they large metropolises or small cities. On the other hand, TECHO's scope is so broad that it was also necessary to ensure fluidity in communication between different cultures and, particularly, with participants from Brazil and Haiti, who faced an additional difficulty: the language barrier. These difficulties also had to be overcome in 18 possible simultaneous and time-limited dialogue spaces.


These factors meant that both teams had to organize themselves flexibly, using tools - such as Mural - to be able to go back over the plan and make any necessary adjustments over time.



Days before, the teams explored the event site and prepared the space. There, the Kubadili team met with 18 TECHO members from different Latin American delegations to conduct an introductory workshop on agility. During this space, which also served as a pilot test of the Urban Campus, we shared knowledge on how to carry out participatory dynamics, emphasizing the role of the facilitator and the importance of generating a harvest at the end of these dynamics, to close conversations and record what was learned. The delegates naturally assumed the roles of facilitators, and left this day with new knowledge to share with the delegations that had not arrived in Buenos Aires.


EVENT AN RESULTS:


After a lot of planning, on October 28, 2018, the Urban Campus opened its doors to hundreds of young people and representatives of different organizations from all over Latin America; all of them prepared to start four days of learning, reflection and collaboration.


Throughout those days, Kubadili facilitated the collaborative agendas for three consecutive days, in addition to controlling the times and topics of the conversations that were generated in the different spaces from the main stage.


Throughout those days, there were 18 different conversation spaces, in which two consecutive conversations were held, separated by a few minutes to allow attendees to gather and give a concrete closure to each conversation through a harvest. A color logic was established to identify each conversation space more simply. Although this logic generated confusion and delays during the first day, during the second day we placed certain colors in specific places in the venue, making the formation of conversation groups much easier.



In addition to assembling the collaborative agendas, we also co-created a compact personal logbook for attendees and a shared search-and-research board. The log included the values of the Urban Campus, an agenda of activities and a map of experiences, so that participants could record the feelings of each day and the questions articulated during the different conversations. We also left a free space in the log so that, at the end of the event, they could make their own harvest of the event, to reflect on what they had talked about and learned. The seek-offer board, on the other hand, could be used by attendees to make requests or offerings to others. This activity was key to generating bonds between strangers.


IN THE VOICE OF THE PARTICIPANTS:


"If I had to highlight one thing in particular about the Kubadili team, it is the flexibility to adapt to all the changes the event went through. From the focus on conversation and new ideas to the adjustments that arose from one moment to the next. They were always there and alert, taking advantage of every change as an opportunity to make the experience better". Says Marcos Wolff, member of TECHO's delegation in Argentina.


"The people who participated in the process were very motivated and took these tools back to their territories and contexts. Without going any further, in the internal meetings we had a month later in the international team, we were already proposing spaces for participation with graphic facilitation, harvesting in each conversation”. Marcos Wolff, member of TECHO's delegation in Argentina, pointed out.

RESULTS IN NUMBERS:

  • The event lasted 4 days and 29 hours in total.

  • Data was collected from 100 conversations among the participants.

  • About 1000 young people and inhabitants of popular settlements and representatives of 70 organizations participated in the meeting.

  • More than 50 specialists and volunteers from TECHO participated.

  • 3 specialists from Kubadili participated in the facilitation of the event.



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