Local events are run with low-budget values; the goal is to create a replicable model at minimal cost. This page provides an overview of primary logistics to consider in planning for such events.
Ideally, the meeting space offers both a large room where the group can meet as a whole, as well as “break-out” spaces, where smaller sets of participants can have discussions and collaborate.
In particular, an optimal venue for a participatory event has:
- Capacity to seat all participants in a circle in the main meeting area
- Ideally 1 breakout space/room per 15 participants
- Wireless internet, or an ethernet jack where a wireless router can be connected.
- TBD: Internet access check-list
- No fixed-in-place furniture; collaborative events go better when participants face each other without any furniture between them
Other considerations include:
- Cost: If you're lucky, you can find a free or cheap place. In most US cities, $10/person/day is a good price for rental, and we've gone as high as $25/person/day. Internationally, rates vary widely, with rates in Europe tending higher than US, and elsewhere often being much cheaper
- Catering: If lunch or snacks are part of your event, can you bring in your own food/catering, or are you obligated to use the facility's? In terms of catering costs for full-day events, in the U.S. we aim for costs in the range of $15/20 per head/day, which includes continental breakfast, lunch, and coffee all day.
- N.B. - Coffee quality is the key success factor to all participatory events.
- Confirm hours of access, and verify that you can be in 1 hour before event start time and stay up to 1 hour after event closing time
- Ask about any potential conflicts within the space. If other people/orgs will be using space and overhearing proceedings, make sure to explore potential noise and resource conflicts (e.g. limited bathrooms or a slow internet connection for the facility)
- TBD: Accessibility check list
Food and beverages
Though budget may limit the amount of food that can be provided by the hosts, it is always recommended to have a full range of beverage options available. Coffee is an industry-standard fuel for driving collaboration at live events, and when coupled with tasty and more inert options including water, tea and fruit juice, establishes a rich array of liquid lubricants for effective collaboration and sharing. Participants may also be encouraged to bring snacks and other edibles “pot-luck” style.
- TBD: Sample lunch and snack menus
- TBD: How to find free or low-cost food
At a bare minimum, name tags are an essential mechanism for participants to get to know one another. Two suggestions:
- Consider using a specific name tag format that has high impact: for pre-printed name tags, use only the first name, make it large on the name tag, then print the organizational affiliation in smaller type below it. This immediately makes things more human, giving participants a highly visible handle to use in introducing themselves to friends they have not yet met.
- Don't make different style name tags for participants and facilitators; a single name tag style without role labels breaks down barriers and enhances community energy.
In addition, packets containing Participant Guidelines, agenda information, and feedback forms are an excellent resource when budget permits. Notepads and pens are also useful, though many participants tend to bring their own.
For group sessions and other brainstorming collaboration, the following are strongly recommended:
- “Post-it” notes, in multiple colors and sizes
- Flip-chart pads, with “Post-it” sticky backing if the budget permits
- Colored markers and pens
- Easels with clips to hold up flip-charts
- Masking tape (including colored tape if you plan to do spectrograms as described below)
Access to computers and the internet
Computers and internet access are not essential to successful events, and in fact may prove counterproductive. While machines provide venues for demonstration and sharing, they also create a major distraction from dialog and pure human interaction.
A format that avoids computer use in the early phases of the day but allows for hands-on learning and exploration later in the day arguably offers the best of both worlds; participants start conversations, make new friends and learn about each other's work before diving into the hands-on sharing and learning.
It is essential to let both facilitators and participants know what to expect in these regards.
Wifi checklist by David Wolever 
Wifi port checklist from the Mozilla community 
It is recommended that when computers are available, at least one projector also be available for group viewing of demonstrations.