More than 260 funders and movement partners got together last week to think of an answer to this question.
Throughout the four days the group spent together, probably more questions than answers were raised, as it, indeed, should be. Under the title “Re/organising Power for Systems Change”, the gathering was the EDGE Conference 2017, that took place in Barcelona, from 25 to 28 April. The program of the conference was built on the Just Transition framework that EDGE’s partner Movement Generation has been developing with grassroots allies for a number of years, and managed to incorporate the pillars of People Power, Systemic Alternatives and Progressive Philanthropy into the design of the sessions.
To allow deeper debates and different forms of interaction among participants, the sessions were divided in Engagement Labs, Workshops, Walking Tours, Dine Arounds and Community Meetings, and the content covered a variety of topics ranging from water justice to ethical investment. All the sessions had a deep collaborative component and were designed by their proponents. The descriptions of the sessions can be found here.
Reassembling the big group, the plenary panels brought together people from different parts of the world to talk about the challenges of organising alternatives to the system we live in, achieving what may seem as utopian goals. On the funders side, representatives of foundations, challenged by movement partners contributions, discussed about strategies for funding and how to better mobilize resources to the frontlines, that are urging for a better structured support.
Differently from previous years, EDGE Conference 2017 had a series of Movement to Movement spaces, where organisers from all over the world had the chance to gather to connect and strategize for the future. Based on their discussions, movement representatives had a dedicated session to present their feedback to the funders and other participants, pointing out their expectations and call to action.
They also put a lot of effort and thought to shape the photo exhibition and the different performances of Idrissa (Metromuster), Ende Gelände (with Kevin Buckland), and Filastine. The party was also organized with the support of the local committee and the team of La Nau Bostik, this recovered factory transformed into a cultural center for the community. All these elements set the tone of the conference – provoking and integrating at the same time.
Next Steps and report
With the purpose of inspiring shared and collective action, the conference is also a space to generate bonds and connections among different groups from all over the world. The outcomes of the event will be shared along the next weeks, together with the report and pieces of videos and photos, and the results of the survey that is being prepared. Stay tuned!
Another new aspect of the this year’s conference was the media coverage. Andrew Milner, from Alliance magazine, and Mary Fitzgerald, from openDemocracy, attended the conference and you can check Andrew’s perspectives here.
Invited by Alliance magazine, a few participants also wrote blog posts to share their own perspectives about the conference. Check it here.
Apparently, we don’t have all the answers for the many questions that appeared during the sessions, but one thing was clear for many participants: EDGE is this unique space where funders and movement partners can explore these questions, together.