My week at the Mozfest Retreat

I've been away for 3 days of intensive planning in a converted ex- soviet union factory building. Planning to expose the open web to the tech industry and society in broadest terms. All through the Mozilla Festival (MozFest).

My week at the Mozfest Retreat

The goal? Get an outline shape of how this festival of creativity and technology will look, who's doing what, and what we need in place. The result? A 3 day festival in London with making, discussing and demonstrating activities across 6 spaces. 5 which cover the internet health report issues:

  • Web literacy
  • Decentralization
  • Open innovation
  • Privacy & Security
  • Digital Inclusion

And a 6th which is a dedicated youth zone for young people to have a safe space to engage and explore all the issues without be crowded by their parents.

There will also be a range of fringe events happening outside of London and a week of activity in another venue of London too. Really broadening the reach and options for engagement.

There are a number of nuances, behind the scenes delights and simply things that make the festival better but which you won't overtly see!

One of these is how this year there will be an increased number of sessions led by young people on all the topics. So keep an eye out for our calls for workshop submissions come June.

Mozfest embodies a culture of collaboration and openness. And this was started in the retreat. But what did I get up to? Well we were hosted in the Estonian City of Tallinn. A city somewhat famed for its WiFi access and a country who first introduced voting online in elections as early as 2007!!

Monday

Up at 3am to go check in. Eventually reaching my hotel around 12.30pm Estonian time.

After getting through some work I met a colleague from Trinity College London (who run Arts Award) at 5pm. Catching up more about our plans for the week before meeting more wranglers (those managing spaces and activity curation at the festival) for a local dinner. Quickly our 6 swelled to more than 25. And it was a pleasure to start getting to know people from all around the world. We had strategists, programme managers, designers, coders and many more besides.

Some had been involved in mozfest for 5+ years. Some had never been to mozfest, and several (like me) had never been on the Mozfest planning retreat before.

Tuesday

Tuesday morning came around. It was 4.30am and I was helping to put live this awesome new site we have. After a couple of hours extra sleep I met Julie and other wranglers for breakfast and we made our way to the meeting venue. Past the high town, through a train station and then following disused rail tracks to get there. All whilst soaking in the atmosphere and graffiti art which was so rich and engaging.

The day was all about getting to know us as the team. Getting to know about the 5 internet health issues, and starting to consider how we approach the festival and these topics.

The day was followed by a delightful dinner in another local restaurant. With the aim to again further integrate this team of by now nearly 40 people!

Graffiti

Wednesday

An earlier start. Really cracking on now with exploring the practical implementation of sessions within spaces and ways to make the topics engaging.

We had a carousel where everyone joined 2 spaces for a detailed conversation one after the other. I was asked to co-facilitate the youth engagement session, exploring the youth zone. It was not a popular choice. So the rest of the day for me had to be about exploring the topics and considering how best to approach engaging young leaders with spaces.

This is where we built the idea of 'emergent activities' - the ideas and activities that go across the festival. Here we really developed a model that bring additional wranglers in to each space to deliver a synergized programme of activity on particular themes relating to the internet health topics. And so we came up with a way to support young leaders to facilitate session in each topic space.

We went for an early tea to a local street market. My pizza crepe was delicious. Then we went to learn Estonian heritage through 2 hours of needlework. This was a creative and positive learning experience in the craft world. Although I was terrible. But it did spur us to take more of a walk around the city afterwards, and on our travels we met even more wranglers out and about. By 11.30pm 9 of us were sipping hot chocolate with boards of cheese and European meats :)

Estonia

Thursday

By the next day we had a 'deep dive' in to a number of aspects of the festival. Of the 6 sessions on offer was this model I developed with a fellow wrangler Melissa. And it was very pleasingly popular in both rotations! We discussed the issues and detailed how best to make it work. And there was a considerable buy in and desire to make this work. So the learning here can be about positioning. About taking a chance to just understand the contributions every member of a team and society can make. Young People leading sessions was a popular idea!

So we then started developing some team plans, more practicalities and our messaging about the festival components.

For dinner, it was a celebration at another local restaurant. The night was good food with new friends, and getting to know people even more so - the feeling, that for now at least, the work was done.

Friday

Has been a chance to sleep in a little extra for me - having caught up on some work the night before. Meeting Julie and heading to the airport. And a very productive flight. We debriefed the week, we compiled a summary of festival opportunities and even started budgeting. I also got to write the first draft of this. See you all in October for the festival!



MozFest is an Arts Award Supporter. You can see their profile here.

Author

Emrys Green

Emrys Green Voice Team

Emrys is the project manager for the Arts Award Youth Network & Arts Award Voice. He writes occasionally, but spends most of his time leading & supporting the amazing editorial team that bring you this site. Alongside managing this programme of work Emrys manages web builds and live events through his own pursuits - with a wide encapsulation of the arts sector. Theatre, Dance, Circus, Spoken Word and a combination of contemporary and shakespeare presentations are all within his likes - so a very wide artistic enjoyment ensues.

View more posts by Emrys Green

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