Movement Strategy is all about generating global engagement and discussions about our future. In-person strategy meetings became a key format in the process to enable as many people as possible to participate and to provide working groups space and time to advance their work.
These meetings took many formats: strategy salons and regional meetings, which were designed for communities and affiliates to discuss movement strategy and provide feedback that could help shape the recommendations; and working group meetings, which brought together members from one or multiple working groups to develop and revise the recommendations.
In total, the following strategy-focused meetings took place:
- 48 strategy salons in 29 countries.
- 8 in-person working group meetings in 7 countries.
- 4 regional strategy meetings, including two larger strategy summits.
- A delegation of 28 people attended Wikimania 2019 on behalf of movement strategy.
- 1 in-person harmonization sprint.
- 1 in-person writers meeting.
- 1 in-person integration meeting.
Much as Movement Strategy is a pilot for global collaboration, so too were many of these event formats a first within the Wikimedia Movement. The goal was to have meetings take place in a diverse array of places to make entry and travel time as easy as possible for participants.
In May 2019, the core team launched a call for applications for strategy salon grants. Via this process, affiliates and other organized groups were encouraged to apply for a grant to run a small, short in-person strategy discussion event. A total of 35 applicants received grants of between $500-$1500 to host between June 1 and September 15. Affiliates and user groups ran a total of 48 strategy salons in 29 countries, including in Cameroon, the Levant, Bangladesh, Venezuela, and Morocco. The total participant number was 95.
Together with local community organizers, the core team co-designed and co-hosted four regional strategy meetings between June and September 2019. 38 community members from across the Asia-Pacific region gathered for the ESEAP Strategy Summit in Bangkok in late June. This was followed by a meeting in July that brought together five members of the Farsi and Armenian communities in Yerevan as well as another in Estonia for communities in Baltic regions and Russia; 20 people attended the latter event. In September, 50 participants from 7 countries participated in the East Africa Strategy Summit in Kampala, the first time an international Wikimedia event had been held in the region.
From February to September 2019, working groups met in Berlin (Resource Allocation, Revenue Streams, Roles and Responsibilities); Singapore (Capacity Building); Utrecht (Roles and Responsibilities); Madrid (Resource Allocation); Amman (Community Health); Stockholm (Partnerships and Diversity); and Lausanne (Product and Technology). We then brought representatives from all working groups and from the Wikimedia Foundation and Wikimedia Deutschland together in Tunis in September to begin consolidating the recommendations. Two further meetings were in Berlin in December 2019 and New York City in March 2020 to synthesize and finalize the recommendations.
A pilot initiative to make this happen
This presented a sizeable logistical challenge: how to move hundreds of people around the world and coordinate and host events within a relatively short amount of time. Between June and September 2019 alone, 200 people travelled around the world for Movement Strategy. Planning travel and events is normally managed internally by the Wikimedia Foundation, but the volume of work and the short time period to organize this would not have been manageable. Recognizing the importance of in-person events for Movement Strategy, the core team and the Wikimedia Foundation were determined to find ways to make this happen. As a result, a pilot initiative was put in place that saw the core team undertake the planning and delivery of events and travel.
Continuing the conversation in 2020
A number of affiliates and strategy enthusiasts also held local and regional events (over 40) during community conversations in early 2020. These were not coordinated by the core team and are indicative of people taking ownership of conversations around strategy in their local context. Wikimedia Argentina hosted a regional meeting for Latin American affiliates. Wikimedia France supported salons in 14 countries to enable richer and more diverse input from French-speaking communities. The feedback that came in was rich and broad, and you can read a summary report of it here.
What we learned
- In-person meeting formats were invaluable for building a sense of collaboration and ownership around strategy.
- Administrative delays and tight timelines meant that some participants were not able to obtain visas in time. In some instances, we found ways for these people to take part virtually and asynchronously.
- Long lead times for event planning is critical to allow participants, especially volunteers, time to plan to be away from family and other commitments, apply for visas, and plan travel accordingly. These are all considerations for future in-person event planning.
- Many events were held in English, making it hard for some attendees to fully participate. Where we could, we found translators, but this was not always possible due to time constraints. Having more time to plan would have made this easier.
- Event planning and coordination was managed remotely by the core team. Doing this under tight timelines and often with no dedicated contact or coordinator on the ground before the event started proved challenging.