back to Biodynamic Initiative for the Next Generation

by Blaire Ladd
I hosted our second California BING meet up on Sunday, April 7 2013. It went even better than last time and many people commented on how much they loved it!



What went well with the meetup?

Conjunction with regional gathering

I don’t really see people coming together for just a BING meet up the same way that they do at the regional meetings. It is a great opportunity to take advantage of the publicity and turn out that occur at these larger events. 

Attendees who were present were enthusiastic

Everyone who attended really wanted to be there. At one point the roar of conversations was so loud, one person said they could barely hear them self think, but said in a good exciting way! When ever it was time to rotate the groups it was always difficult to get people to stop talking to one another.

Worked on one question the whole time that was very broad

I really wanted to get a feel for what people that came to the group wanted out of BING. I tried to have the question be as broad as possible and felt that the question used in Dornoch was perfect. “Burning issues and needs with regard to the Biodynamic Impulse”. I also like the idea of bringing a globally discussed question to a regional platform. By having just one question, we were really able to start to define tangible solutions.

Harvested tangible themes and solutions:

The format that I used was really helpful dig deep to see what peoples specific/important themes are with regard to the BD impulse.

I first used two world cafe sessions (groups of 4-5 people to start the fire in their minds and get the creativity going). Then had people in groups of two to refine their one burning issue and one burning need. Then as a whole group use the wall to group common themes. That left the room open for people to go to which ever themes they wanted to work on, refine them and create some solutions. Here is the time line and more detailed structure:

10:10 BING introduction, personal introductions (name, farm/occupation, one thing that inspires you about BD)

10:30 World Cafe (Description of intent), Platform for mindful interaction, description of logistical process, emphasize “good” listening and “good” speaking, cafe “rules” on the wall.

10:40 1st round 15 min

10:55 2nd round 15 min

10:20 Open Space Technology Overview, Guidelines and procedures, explained what would happen for remainder of time (see below)

11:30 Meet with one other person you haven’t met with before, for 15 min write on paper (5x4) one burning need and one burning issue (one paper for each)

11:45 Group common themes on wall 5min (I did not know how this was going to work and imagined it very chaotic, but it was very organized, people came up read their topic and then other started coming up if they felt it was a similar theme)  

11:50 Open space groups (reminded people of guiding principles) People came up and grabbed a theme they wanted to work on and people went to tables they wanted to work on. 

12:15 Share and Harvest results

Used World Cafe and Open Space Technology

Both worked really well together as you can see from the explanation above

Diversity of ages, experience and disciplines were present

A littler under half of the attendees were young farmers, but we also had older farmers, a Demeter certifier, one of Raphael Garden’s CSA members, educators, people wanting to be farmers, and general lovers of BD. It was a really excellent mix of ages, back grounds and interests

People were very inspired and thankful for the opportunity

After the event many people thanked me and I ask many people after for their thoughts on the process and what should have been done differently...every one loved it! Hosting the event for the second time gave me a lot more confidence and a better idea of time and what would work. I also spoke to someone who has done coaching on these methods of meeting and gave me some really good advise. I really think the process creates a beautiful platform for people to share their ideas, listen to other ideas, be heard, and create a plethora of creativity. The only change that was suggested is that some people wanted to have even more time to talk to one another. I have a plan for the next meeting to deepen the themes that were brought together at this one.

Good amount of time

I thought that 2.5hrs was a perfect amount of time. Even though some people wanted it to go on longer I feel that it also made people want more and have them excited for what more can come out of it.

Asked to have BING be a permeant presence in BDANC

The core committee on BDANC asked me and Sarah from Live Power to be the youth representatives and be part of their core planning group. They also want BING to be a part of the main meeting instead of the second day. They even suggested of using some sort of creative technology for the beginning of the meeting so everyone can get to know one another better and quicker. I feel this is a great honor and very important for the next generation of farmers and biodynamic agriculture as a community movement.


What you would do differently next time?

Continue to create more tangible outcomes and deepen the themes brought up in this meeting

I think in the next meeting I will do some sort of world cafe in the beginning of BDANC to get people talking and creativity flowing (maybe an hour), then in the afternoon have open space groups with the themes that were created at this meeting so people can deepen the solutions and cooperation for the goals.

More discussion on how to facilitate the next generation of farmers

I was a little surprised that more was not discussed directly about the next generation of farmers. Maybe the ratio of young farmers to older farmers wasn’t high enough. Yet, what I find that was equally important that all the generations were talking at the same table, on the same level, bringing their concerns and expertise, and that was a beautiful thing. Maybe the question to bring next time will be more geared in the direction of the next generation.


What can BING do to make it easier for others to host meetups?

Have more explanation on what to expect from hosting a meetup

Hosting a meet up can be intimidating and a bit overwhelming if your not familiar with the process, but maybe if there were some simple descriptions about the creative technologies for getting people together it would make it seem not so daunting. Also, maybe a sample time line would help to give an example of how long it takes to do things.

BING coordinator's note: We hope Blaire's detailed reflections will do just that! Thanks Blaire!