Women Who Get Sh*t Done — The UNconference
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 DONE — UNCONFERENCE’ 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.
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.
BY THE END OF THE WEEKEND, I FELT REALLY INSPIRED AND ALSO QUITE CHANGED — MY 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!
YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE:
The Curiosity Project
Tauranga locals Stacey Smith and Joy Tahere decided to wake us up by creating the Curiosity Project, to both excite and ignite curiosity. Informal, monthly, evening workshops taught by some of the Bay’s finest, each with a special skill or knowledge they’ve agreed to share, are hosted by Ours Café in the Mount. There’s no rhyme or reason to the topics, it’s just an opportunity to learn new things crafty, creative, emotional or intellectual.
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