Open Space Technology Discussions

October 26, 2023 from 2:45 pm to 3:15 pm

Speaker: Breakout rooms

Times are listed in Pacific Standard Time

With a limited number of scheduled slots in the conference program, we understand that no single conference can cover all of the most important topics that attendees wish to learn about, share about, and explore together.

To further the possibilities of what a virtual conference can be, this year we are seeking to create space for conference attendees to connect and discuss those topics that are most relevant and feel most urgent to them. Two 30-minute sessions at different times throughout the day will provide attendees the opportunity to break into sessions that they have proposed or that another attendee has proposed.

The sessions will be based on Open Space Technology (OST). OST is a methodology of running large group meetings or events around a central topic where participants create the agenda themselves. The process is designed to be highly participatory, inclusive and collaborative. We believe that attendees of this conference are a leaderful bunch with a lot of their own insights to share about moving businesses, institutions, and communities toward Zero Waste. We hope that these sessions will add to the overall experience, like the times in-between sessions at an in-person conference.

How it will work:

  1. Attendees will be asked to put ideas into the chat throughout the conference for topics they’d like to discuss during an Open Space Breakout Session. Attendees can indicate if they are willing to facilitate the discussion or not.
  2. A conference organizer will collect topics and schedule them into an Open Space Breakout Session. A breakout room will be assigned for each topic. Conference organizers will be assigned as facilitators for rooms that need one. 
  3. At the start of each Open Space Breakout Session, attendees will choose from a menu of breakout room topics that will appear and choose what breakout room to join. You decide how to spend your time during the Open Space Breakout Sessions. You can choose to go all-in on a single topic. Or you can choose to be a ‘bumblebee’, someone who jumps from session to session, or a ‘butterfly’, someone who chooses not to join a session at all.

When it will happen:

  • Open Space Breakout Sessions will begin at 10:45 a.m. and 2:45 p.m. 
  • Attendees are encouraged to join the programmed conference sessions that begin 30 minutes after each Open Space Breakout Session. 

Fundamentals of OST:

  1. Whoever comes are the right people
  2. Whatever happens is the only thing that could have
  3. Whenever it starts is the right time (keeping in mind the time restraints in this context)
  4. When it’s over it’s over (keeping in mind the time restraints in this context, but if you want to continue in your session beyond 15 minutes, that is up to you)

Learn more about OST at: