Weeknotes for May 29th, 2020

Every week I seem to push new boundaries in terms of intensity, capacities and activities.

Work with IFRC’s Solferino Academy is providing lots of meaningful learning opportunities for our team, Laurent Fernandez, Shaun Hazeldene & HeatherLeson, and I’m grateful. On Wednesday, we ran a virtual event on Health Innovation & Transformation, looking at historical innovations during past health crises, we then had breakout workshops On various health topics to explore innovation during the current pandemic. We distributed a single zoom link where we held plenary and used a google doc as an information collection and dissemination point, providing links to different zoom rooms for the various breakout workshops. What we’re learning about instructing people to go to and from other ‘rooms’ will provide a good foundation for larger ‘conference’ events.

On Friday, during a COVID-19 & Leadership Think Tank meeting, we had four different language interpretation channels running simultaneously. We are working with an incredibly professional team of interpreters who are learning about how to optimise their abilities during virtual meetings. They have started to pick up the practice of using two devices, one for their mic and the other to be able to listen, switching to other languages as needed.

On Thursday, I facilitated and supported a second virtual meeting on civil society and AI for European Center of Not for Profit Law. The first meeting had been an awareness-raising meeting, and this meeting focused on ways to engage networks of civil society organisations to be part of the process as the European Union formulates policies and regulations on AI. Next steps will be getting the EU’s risk-based approach better aligned with a rights-based approach.

I ran the third iteration of The (Virtual) Session Design Lab, this time over two days – three hours each day and running it at 10 am Eastern/3 pm BST. I had participants from Portland, Oregon, to Singapore, so think I have landed on the optimal times. Throughout the Lab, I am frequently breaking the participants up into small groups (two’s and three’s) to work together, and this seems to be building quite a good rapport between the participants and by the end of the Lab, they are quite grateful for the peer support.

While I am delighted at how event organisers are learning how to make virtual meetings productive and useful, I am increasingly concerned about how much power those that hold the keys to the tech have over their participants. Very impressed with Evelyn’s, at Aspiration, post on addressing and countering power imbalance. If you’re involved in organising virtual convenings, I’d highly recommend giving this a close read.

On a personal note, I’m finding myself increasingly anxious about the lifting of lockdown rules here in the UK without a vaccine or even a hint of a credible/safe tracing system in place. How does this avoid spreading the virus in our communities? The mixed messages of our government aren’t helping my confidence in leaving the house safely. Agoraphobia may be setting in as trips to the supermarket are giving me panic attacks.