Econous 2017

Published on September 21, 2017 by Seth

YYC Growers, and Distributors Co-op President, Kye Kocher and Last Best Brewing and Distillery chef, Adam Trotchie presenting on the co-op tour

Last week community economic development practitioners, thinkers, and doers, from all over the country descended on Calgary for the Canadian Community Economic Development Network’s 2017 Econous Conference.

The conference featured some of the leading minds in this space and focused on Thriving Communities, Good Jobs, and Doing Business Differently. Attendees participated in workshops, plenary sessions, galas and mixers, and tours; not to mention ample networking and idea sharing. The conference also included keynote addresses from Chief Dr. Robert Joseph and Shaun Lomey (Army of Problem Solvers), as well as Minister of Finance Joe Ceci, and Minister of Economic Development Trade Deron Bilous (who shared some excellent insight on Community Economic Development Corporations and Bill 30). Huge thanks to the conference organizers, volunteers, presenters, and participants!

ACCA was a conference sponsor and led a co-op tour that featured presentations from MEC, Connect First Credit Union, Alberta Co-operative Energy, YYC Growers, Servus Credit Union, and the Grain Exchange Worker Co-op Bakery. A huge thanks to all our amazing presenters!

Here are some lessons learned from the event.

Boots are made for walking: Get moving and Get talking

A walking tour is a great way to get people talking to one another, allows for more networking, and from a planning perspective provides a format to fit more material into a short amount of time. Let’s look at the numbers: participants spent approximately 45 minutes networking, and just over an hour and a half learning from seven different speakers.
Walking meetings are becoming more and more popular. They increase engagement and tend to spark idea generation, and with a fixed route could lead to better time management. Tasked with showcasing some of the best in innovative co-op practices in only a few hours; the walking tour was a great fit.

Co-operative Spirit works for more than just co-ops

Along with some delicious craft beers, the craft brewery tour illustrated a strong spirit of co-operation. Craft breweries in Alberta work together to promote their industry, share best practices, and invest in building strong relationships. The Alberta Small Brewers Association is a big part of this work in facilitating education and awareness building and coordinating strategic efforts. Based on their success as an emerging industry, you may want to consider taking a colleague from another co-op out for a beer!

 Large Group Session

Managing large groups is akin to herding cats, and rarely as fun. Good thing Econus enlisted Chris Corrigan! The last day engaged the entire plenary to work together providing feedback to innovative ideas provided by other attendees. People with projects had access to three rounds of small groups to provide feedback, ask questions, and more. This allowed all attendees an opportunity to gain insight on more projects, connect with more people, and share their work.

Co-ordinating over 300 people is no easy feat. Having engaging ice-breakers, and framing and re-framing of group process ensured the participants knew what to do, and can get the most out of the session. Being organized and investing in getting everyone on the same page can lead to a high-energy and productive session. It shows that large groups can work well together!