Free Minds, Free People Conference Planning Process

I think I want to join the conference planning team.
What am I getting myself into?

Planning Free Minds, Free People is truly a labor of love. It is for people who believe in the need for a grassroots-driven, youth-respectful, people of color-led, justice-oriented space for education activists from across the country to share, organize and dream together. The beauty of this unique national gathering is that it is created and controlled by those doing the work at ground level–educators, parents, youth and researchers–not by a foundation, institution or corporation.

But building such a space demands hard work, commitment and creativity. It is not for the faint of heart, the dabblers, or folks who are more talk than action. Being part of the planning team means making a commitment not only to the conference, but to the community of people who put it together.

Being part of this community has benefits. It can help you:

  • Learn more about education activism around the country
  • Connect your local work to the national education justice landscape
  • Build strong personal and professional relationships with like-minded folks

And, most importantly, being part of the planning team means the development of this great event will be informed by your vision.

This is our second iteration of our new selection process which has resulted in Minneapolis and St. Paul, MN as the hosts for Free Minds, Free People 2019. We have set the planning retreat for September 15-16 in the Twin Cities. Participation in that retreat is not mandatory, but all planning team members are strongly encouraged to attend. It is the only opportunity team members will have to meet in person before the conference, and it is a critical site for relationship building, visioning and laying the groundwork for the conference planning process. We have limited money available to help people with travel expenses.

After the retreat, the planning team is divided into several committees. For the 2017 FMFP those committees were: Fundraising and Finance, Workshops, National Special Events, Community Building and Communications, Documentation and Evaluation, Local Logistics, Local Special Events, and Local Organizing. Each person must join at least one committee. Those committees begin meeting once per month in the fall to plan their work. Each committee will have two facilitators and have a plan of action. The committees continue meeting usually once per month until the conference itself. The committees aim to make decisions on a consensus basis.

During the conference planning team members are expected to assist with the running of the event. After the conference the committees meet to debrief, evaluate and determine how to best support work coming out of the conference.

The committees each meet once per month for an hour and a half. There are usually tasks to do between meetings. It’s important that all committee members step up to take on tasks at some point, but you can choose when to do that based on your own schedule. Different committees are busiest at different times. The Workshop committee, for example, is at its busiest in January-March when it is reviewing proposals. Fundraising is busiest in the fall when it is seeking conference sponsors. It’s a good idea to choose a committee whose schedule is compatible with your own. It’s ok to take a step back from the committee work if something comes up that you need to attend to. We just ask that you are clear about what you can and can’t do and that you let fellow committee members know in a timely manner if you can’t complete a task that you had committed to.

Each committee has two co-facilitators. Those facilitators are responsible for: 1) planning the agenda for and facilitating the committee meetings; 2) making sure committee members are completing tasks; and 3) representing the committee on the Coordinating Committee. Facilitators can divide these tasks between them.

The Coordinating Committee oversees the planning process, coordinating the work of the other committees and dealing with cross-committee issues. It includes representatives from each of the other committees as well as some experienced FMFP conference planners. That committee meets every other week for one hour.

Sound good? Click here to learn how you can become a planning team member for the 2019 conference.