Sunday, October 30, 2011

Notes from unConference Session "Occupy unConference"

We started out the session by introducing ourselves and explaining our interest in the session. I will state individual statements, but exclude names since I did not ask permission at the beginning of the session.

The first participant splits his time between Boston and Vancouver, and has been amazed by the political influence held by Occupy Vancouver. He wonders how innovation can address the issues of the occupy movement.

The next participant posed the question “what’s fair?” and wonders what sort of opportunities his children will have. He believes our society has gotten to the point of being ridiculous.

Another participant started out working in government, and as someone now in the technology field he feels there could be an interesting intersection between the two. The occupy movement resonates with him, as he believes that inequality has infected politics.

We were also joined by a reporter who has been covering Occupy Boston. He found that there were a variety of interesting perspectives to be found at Occupy, and he finds the movement fascinating.

Another participant wondered about how the media could be effective in the occupy movement, noting that the right idea can become the structure. In the Occupy movement specifically, he wonders how we can reorganize and restructure to make the movement more effective. He suggested forming a taskforce of sorts.

Another studied the history of civil rights in college, and finds herself wondering how the strategies used in that movement can make the occupy movement more effective.

The next contributor found himself fascinated by the occupy movement as he works within corporate America. He wants to find tools from his expertise to aid in social change.

Still another member of our group blogs about politics and social change. He has been studying the economy for a number of years, and saw this type of change coming about 5 years back. He realizes that something has got to change in order to make more jobs, but wonders what that change will be.

Another found the self-leadership and self-organization of the occupy movement particularly intriguing. The next helps to support entrepreneurs who create jobs, and hopes that this will help the occupy movement.

Another finds himself active in politics, and believes that we as a country have driven ourselves to an extreme position. He feels that our country has changed and will never be the same. The next identifies as a conservative, politically, and is curious about the occupy movement. He comes from a formerly communist country, and has seen reorganization work at the governmental level.

Our final participant identifies as a member of the 1%, and yet has family members who are a part of the occupy movement. As someone who understands business and economics, this participant wants to see our countries wealth distribution change.

After identifying every participant, the group began to talk possible solutions. The first proposed solution is the 10x10 model. In this model, the highest paid CEO could not earn more than 10 times the wage of the lowest paid worker in the company. In exchange for this equitable salary distribution, said companies would receive a stamp of approval from some over-arching group. The method was compared to LEED certification, proclaiming ones company as “green”, etc. The potential increase in business would serve as incentive for companies to join this model. Historically speaking, this model has been successful in a number of cases. Most prominently, Henry Ford stated that he did not want to make cars more expensive than his factory workers could afford. Ideally, this model would serve to redistribute the wealth and to boost consumer spending, and thusly the economy. Others in the group proposed a divestment of shares.

At this point, group members began to debate the true cause of the occupy movement. Some felt that the movement represented a political problem (with money in politics being a key problem). Others felt that, though this particular proposed solution might not solve the entire problem, it is important to focus our energies on what we can do. Rather than tearing down suggestions, several participants felt it was key to say “yes, and…”

This led us to a conversation about what the tech economy can do to improve the system. It was suggested that companies not see big business as the ultimate goal, but rather understand the value in staying small. Additionally, some members proposed the idea of retaining the suggestion box, thereby listening to the best ideas within the company. Still another participant suggested investing in startups, knowing they will likely fail. Others noted that their time as mentors (specifically in VentureMentors) had both aided future entrepreneurs and themselves. Additionally, several members felt that in the U.S. we should refocus our energies on technology education.

Finally, many members of the group felt that this conversation should be continued after the unConference. For this purpose, these notes will be sent to the conference and to members who wished to continue the conversation.

Thank you to Amy Click for sharing her notes from this session.

No comments: