Monday, 13 December 2021 9am and it already feels HOT. Feels like it’s going to be a scorcher of a day.
So Newkind. It blew my mind and for so many reasons. The first one is truth. You know when you go somewhere and you realise that we’ve taken our masks and people are actually naming problems? It felt like that. From the first moment when Erfan Daliri opened the conference with a poem and Kon Karapanagiotis spoke openly about racism in his own organisation and that the ASRC crowds out funding for refugee-led organisations. It felt like when the complaints that you hear about institutions aren’t just parroted back by leaders, but are actually understood and FELT. The dawning realisation that ‘ohhhh, someone actually gets it’.
I’ve been to a lot of conferences in my professional career. Too many to count. And they’re mostly informative and good networking opportunities. You sit through a lot of powerpoints and learn some new knowledge. What felt different about this one, was that we weren’t just engaging intellectually with problems. We weren’t just analysing and researching and presenting new information. We were safe to engage not just intellectually but emotionally. It felt heart-led, wholehearted, embodied and authentic.
And of course the reason for it feeling that way is because of its organisers - Erfan Daliri and Sophie Appleton. It takes courage to be that open, brave, honest and heart-led. It takes courage to be vulnerable to say the things (well at least for me!) I know it took enormous work for them to curate a line up of speakers that were diverse. Praise be - there were NO all male panels and there were NO all white panels.
Some highlights and take-outs from the conference:
Two words - Nova Peris. Two-time Gold medal Olympian, former Australian Senator, first Aboriginal woman in Parliament, first Aboriginal woman to participate in the Olympics. She’s so many firsts. And yet still remained real, down-to-earth and spoke TRUTH. The link to her new foundation tackling food insecurity up north is here.
Regeneration - If you haven’t checked out Paul Hawken’s regeneration questions - do! They are thought provoking and incisive and invite us to ask whether we’re creating life or reducing it, expanding or narrowing, healing or stealing the future…
Ecological economics - Rejecting the idea of endless, unconstrained economic growth and taking an interdisciplinary approach to think about non-market factors like the environment and distribution and allocation of resources.
Gender equality panel - where Hala Abdelnour (HELLO HALA) was the living embodiment of being present, of being brave, of naming the things. Throughout the panel and through the whole conference really, Hala cut to the heart of things, she didn’t pussyfoot around. Like when she called out that most diversity and inclusion work is done by White women, or that we all need to attend men’s behaviour change programs,
They were some highlights, but my key take out is bravery and having the courage to say what is true. We spend a lot of time in consulting defining the problem. And without the courage to name the problem, to define the problem, to witness and feel the impact of the problem we will remain stuck in the same-same business as usual approach to solving problems. More data, more initiatives, more talk and not enough impact.