ANGELA WALLACE is one of those people who makes Tauranga an amazing place. She doesn’t do all the things she does to make money, or get recognition, she just does them because she thinks she should. When Angela approached UNO. about the WWGSD EVENT IN THE BAY OF PLENTY, we knew this was exactly the kind of thing we wanted to be involved with. We are very excited to sponsor this wonderful event. And as UNO. editor, I am a bit nervous (good nervous), about attending in June!

WORDS ANGELA WALLACE PHOTOS SUPPLIED

The first time I read about the ‘WOMEN WHO GET SH*T DONEUNCONFERENCE’ I chuck­led at the sweary title and won­dered what the heck an UNcon­fer­ence was. I decid­ed to learn more, and min­utes lat­er found myself apply­ing to attend the inau­gu­ral event in Lev­in last year. All this, con­sid­er­ing I’d recent­ly stepped away from a career where I attend­ed and organ­ised loads of events, and had con­vinced myself I wouldn’t want to attend any­thing ‘net­worky’ for a long time.

BUT THIS WAS NO ORDINARY EVENT. THE APPLICATION FORM DIDN’T ASK WHO YOU WORKED FOR, OR WHAT YOUR JOB TITLE WAS — it asked what you are pas­sion­ate about, and how you choose to spend your time. The WWGSD team went to great lengths to seek out appli­cants from dif­fer­ent back­grounds, eth­nic­i­ties, life expe­ri­ences, ages and career stages. In the end, there were 350 appli­ca­tions for the first WWGSD UNcon­fer­ence, from which 120 wom­en were select­ed to attend.

Had the first 120 appli­cants attend­ed, over 90% would have been Euro­pean 25 to 45-year-old, estab­lished busi­ness and star­tup CEOs and gov­ern­ment and busi­ness agen­cy employ­ees. But that is not what the real New Zealand looks like, and that group is already catered for many times over with oth­er events. The ethos of WWGSD is to have a true rep­re­sen­ta­tion of New Zealand, so that dif­fer­ent voic­es and points of views are heard.

BEFORE I STARTED MY BUSINESS, The Nut­shell, I spent three won­der­ful months inter­view­ing, writ­ing and shar­ing the sto­ries of 30 wom­en who live a ‘Life With­out Kids’. I sus­pect my rep­re­sen­ta­tion of this often unheard seg­ment of wom­en ensured my selec­tion to the event.

AS I LEARNT MORE, I KEPT BEING WOWED BY THE LENGTHS WWGSD WENT TO, TO ENSURE INCLUSIVENESS FOR ALL WOMEN and to break down the bar­ri­ers pro­hibit­ing atten­dance. For exam­ple, 20% of atten­dees are able to attend on a schol­ar­ship, chil­dren are wel­come at no extra cost (the child­care offered was amaz­ing), and there was extra sup­port for any med­ical or health issues such as anx­i­ety.

Being togeth­er all week­end, you get to know peo­ple, have lots of fas­ci­nat­ing con­ver­sa­tions and, impor­tant­ly, lots of laughs.

THE EVENT REQUIRES ALL WOMEN TO STAY ON-SITE AT THE VENUE FROM LATE FRIDAY AFTERNOON TO MID-MORNING SUNDAY. Spend­ing a whole week­end with 120 peo­ple you don’t know is pret­ty daunt­ing for even the most con­fi­dent. But not many peo­ple knew each oth­er, so we were all in the same boat. There were times when I felt a bit awk­ward, but they were fleet­ing and I know that to expe­ri­ence new things, some­times I just have to suck it up.

BEING TOGETHER ALL WEEKEND, YOU GET TO KNOW PEOPLE, HAVE LOTS OF FASCINATING CONVERSATIONS AND, IMPORTANTLY, LOTS OF LAUGHS. I have built friend­ships with wom­en I would nev­er have met if I hadn’t attend­ed WWGSD. Being sur­round­ed by peo­ple who give a damn about big, human issues was inspir­ing. Those lead­ing and sup­port­ing dif­fer­ent caus­es were able to gar­ner sup­port from like-mind­ed peo­ple, and the group as a whole. Through the plat­forms, Face­book and Slack, the alum­nae con­tin­ue to active­ly sup­port each oth­er and share oppor­tu­ni­ties of inter­est.

THE CRUX OF AN UNCONFERENCE is that there is no pre-set agen­da. A mas­sive emp­ty sched­ule was put on the wall with 30 spaces for work­shop top­ics. On the first evening, all the atten­dees pop­u­lat­ed it with post-its, sug­gest­ing top­ics for dis­cus­sion. It was sim­ply a case of ‘I care about this – does any­one else?’ or, ‘Does any­one want to talk or learn about this?’ There were five work­shops offered dur­ing each time slot, and you just went to the one that inter­est­ed you most. Some­one had put up a ses­sion on ‘wom­en with­out chil­dren, who moth­er the world’, and nat­u­ral­ly, we end­ed up run­ning the ses­sion togeth­er – the whole event was gen­uine­ly col­lab­o­ra­tive.

TOPICS I RECALL INCLUDED ORGAN DONATION, THE IMPOSTER SYNDROME, POLYAMORY, FEMINISM 101, BECOMING BI-CULTURAL, RELATIONSHIP CHANGES WHEN BECOMING PARENTS, WRITING A LETTER TO YOUR 16-YEAR-OLD SELF. The top­ics tru­ly could be any­thing! The idea is that there is so much exper­tise and expe­ri­ence in the group, you don’t need a keynote. I’ve organ­ised many con­fer­ences, and I’m now an UNcon­fer­ence con­vert. It’s much more engag­ing and mem­o­rable because every­one par­tic­i­pates, and peo­ple get to share and dis­cuss what tru­ly mat­ters to them. That’s what dri­ves pro­gress and deliv­ers out­comes after the event ends.

Atten­dees were made up of sup­port­ers, doers, and prob­lem solvers. You don’t need to be a founder, a CEO or a celebri­ty to go, though there were many of them, too; WWGSD is for wom­en mak­ing sh*t hap­pen in their cor­ner of the world, from pub­lic ser­vice to media, the arts to non-prof­its and social enter­pris­es, tech start-ups to estab­lished cor­po­rates, and every­thing in between.

Ange Wal­lace, Sarah Bunker, Grace Har­ris and Lyn­da Per­ry at a WWGSD com­mit­tee meet­ing first thing, up The Mount.

BY THE END OF THE WEEKEND, I FELT REALLY INSPIRED AND ALSO QUITE CHANGEDMY EYES WERE OPENED AND MY MIND EXPANDED. I absolute­ly love liv­ing in Tau­ran­ga, but as I flew home I found myself feel­ing reflec­tive and a lit­tle deflat­ed. Life can be insu­lar here, and our net­works rather tra­di­tion­al, espe­cial­ly when com­pared to the diver­si­ty and vibran­cy at WWGSD.

And that’s when I sur­prised myself again by feel­ing com­pelled to get my ‘event organ­i­sa­tion’ shoes back on and help bring WWGSD to the Bay of Plen­ty. With the core organ­is­ing com­mit­tee of myself, Kir­i­ta­pu Allan, Amy Wright and Grace Har­ris along with an awe­some group of vol­un­teers (includ­ing my mum!), we have decid­ed to host a WWGSD UNcon­fer­ence here in the Bay of Plen­ty. It will put togeth­er anoth­er tru­ly diverse group of open-mind­ed, pas­sion­ate and friend­ly wom­en who love get­ting sh*t done!

WWGSD TAURANGA will be held at Wai­hi Beach, 16 — 18 June 2017

If you’d like to take part in this amaz­ing event, just fill out an appli­ca­tion form!

WWGSD TAURANGA 16–18 JUNE 2017

LOCATION: WAIHI BEACH

If you’d like to apply to attend, please don’t wor­ry about the things that might pre­vent you — just tell us what they are, and we’ll GET SH*T DONE to help you get there.

For more details, vis­it: WWGSD.NZ or call Ange­la Wal­lace: 021 636 373