Open Everything

September 3-6, 2008 :: Hollyhock Centre

Open as a way of working is spreading well beyond the world of technology. Open source software. Open public policy. Open art. Open music. Open space events. Open networks. Open philanthropy. This is at once disruptive and transformational – a new way of working. 

The Open Everything retreat is for the people who are making this happen. It's about helping us take our work to the next level, giving us the tools and insights to spread this work further and faster.

Why open?

As we work for a better world, many of us have intuitively started to mash-up the values and tactics of different kinds of 'open'. Open space meetings. Open source software. Open public policy. Open networks. Open philanthropy. Open.

Open is at once disruptive and transformational – a new way of working. And, while Wikipedia and open source software serve as easy examples, open thinking and doing have spread well beyond the realm of technology. People are exploring ways to embody openness, connectedness and emergence in all aspects of their social change work – and they're getting traction. At the same time, we are only scratching the surface.

What's open?

The Centre for Social Innovation creates spaces built around the power of connection. The World Social Forum attracts 10,000s of activists around programs that organize themselves. The Shuttleworth Foundation applies open source thinking to the practice of philanthropy. Wikipedia sparks communities everywhere to give every one the planet access to knowledge.

The people behind this work exemplify open thinking, doing and being. Open Everything is for people like these.

Why now?

Open is changing the game. And, while Wikipedia and open source software offer great examples of what's up, we know that openness, collaboration and participation are spreading well beyond the realm of technology. It's about value, and values. Where open is headed is huge. Open Everything gathers people who are charting this trajectory.

We're an emerging and fledgling group, but we're on to something. It's time to step back, take stock, reflect and dig deeper. It's time to learn from each other, improve our stories and get better at what we do. This is work that matters. Open Everything is about helping us take that work to the next level, giving us the tools and insights to spread this work further and faster.

What will we talk about?

The agenda will unfold in three tracks -- the meaning of open, open leadership and examples of open. Some talks proposed so far include:

There will also be a large number of discussion oriented sessions aimed at helping each other become better at leading open projects. See the draft agenda to see how this is shaping up. Write to us or post to the wiki if you have a session idea.

What will we take away?

The aim of Open Everything is to both explore the principles at the core of 'open' and to improve the game of people using open strategies in their work. We are hoping to leave Hollyhock with:

  • A clear narrative about 'what is open?' for us explain what we are doing to confused colleagues and family members.
  • Concrete examples that show open strategies in everything from software to education to government.
  • Feedback and coaching that offer practical advice on how to make our open organizations and networks better.
  • New friends who are doing practical, interesting and crazy things to build 'open' into their work.
  • Maybe (just maybe) a manifesto that explains why open matters, and why it's not just tech.
We are also planning to take away a pile of documentation: video, podcasts, blogs, case writeups. This info will be posted to ... and will be threaded together with ideas from a series of shorter Open Everything events happening in cities around the world.

If you think Open is for you, please drop us an email. An invitation list is currently being compiled.


"Web of Change isn’t a “wham bam here’s my business card” conference. I made sincere personal and professional connections with people that have lasted. Five days on Cortes Island offered me the luxury of time to learn, laugh, and understand my work and my larger place in the progressive community."
Alia McKee, Executive Director, SeaChange Strategies