“AMC is clearly a living entity, improving and growing each year, like an organism itself – it sits in and owns its imperfection and its desire to grow, heal, be ideal, and it's a work in progress, and it draws together individuals that think similarly about themselves, their worlds, and their work, and I deeply appreciate that such spaces of *modeling not-knowing* exist!” – AMC2015 feedback survey respondent
Just over a month ago we wrapped up our largest and most complex AMC in the 17-year history of the conference. We’re grateful that in addition to more sessions and participants we also had more volunteers, collaborators and coordinators than ever before. Together, we built a weekend where more than 2,500 people could gather, strategize, build relationships and explore media-based organizing.
We are happy to share with you some of the major lessons we’ve distilled from your feedback. In addition to evaluation conversations with AMC coordinators and staff, 219 AMCers gave detailed feedback through our online feedback survey. These reflections and suggestions are that seeds that will blossom into new organizing practices for next year’s AMC.
Orienting First Timers
The AMC is a unique conference in many ways – from the yearlong decentralized organizing process to the various tracks, practice spaces, and network gatherings, it is a world unto itself! Many who attend for the first time describe a feeling of excitement but also bewilderment at the number of possible ways that one can participate. For AMC2016 we will add “first timer” info sessions that help orient people to the AMC and the organizing process that is behind it. Our goal is for these sessions to provide guidance on how to navigate the 300+ sessions without getting overwhelmed, and librarian-like expertise on how to find what you’re looking for.
Tapping Into Our Network
One of the AMC’s greatest strengths is its network of returning coordinators, presenters, collaborators and participants. As the conference grows in size and scope, we will continue to face challenging questions that require the historical and contextual wisdom of our network. At AMC2016 we are excited to explore establishing an advisory board through which veteran AMCers can offer perspective and guidance on the evolution of the conference.
In our feedback survey, a large number of respondents asked for well-facilitated networking spaces that provide ample space and time for people to connect, exchange information, share skills, and build relationships. In 2016, we will add networking opportunities designed specifically to support meeting new people and making meaningful connections through the weekend.
Hands-on Skills and Media-making
You loved the hands-on media-making sessions of AMC2015 such as “The Black Death Mixtape” and “Old Gold: Do It Yourself Music Production.” And you shared with us that this focus on media production is one of the things that makes the AMC different from other conferences.
At AMC2016 we will continue to present sessions that emphasize media-making at their core and encourage participants to walk away with tangible skills, technology tools and resources, and new creations.
Making More Room
As the AMC grows we are continuing to explore new ways in which to accommodate a larger number of participants. This year’s Opening Ceremony, phenomenal as it was, was a clear indicator that we need more room! (If you missed it you can watch it online thanks to PhillyCam). If we can’t secure a larger space, we might consider having multiple plenaries throughout the weekend, rather than a single Opening Ceremony.
Safety at the AMC
The Safety Team at the AMC is made up of folks who have experience dealing with sexual assault, intimate violence and emotional crisis. This brilliant team has not only supported the AMC, but many other convenings, conferences, and parties. We greatly appreciate their contributions to our extended community. This year, however, we learned some pretty tough lessons about how we can improve the emotional safety and physical security at our nighttime events. In 2016, the Safety Team will be expanded to include individuals trained in de-escalation, conflict resolution, and legal support. For more background you can read our in-depth reflections on safety at AMC2015 for more perspective.
More of What You Want
Here are some other things that we want to add or improve for next year’s AMC, based on your feedback:
- A collective online note-taking tool for documenting sessions
- Sessions on fundraising and finances
- Workshops on media-based organizing in immigrant and migrant communities
- Workshops on game design and website making
- More elders, southerners, parents and formerly incarcerated organizers leading sessions
- Film screenings
- Wheelchair accessible tours
- Chill nighttime events that are an alternative to a party environment
- Youth-focused evening events
- Detroit-centered content
Thank you for your honest reflections and investment in the continued evolution of the AMC!
Between now and next June there are many ways you can get involved in shaping AMC2016 to be the best AMC yet. The first opportunity will come in early Fall, when we open the call for Tracks, Practice Spaces, and Network Gatherings. Make sure you’re subscribed to our newsletter and follow us on Twitter and Facebook for updates.