Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Taking OFBYFOR ALL Out for its First Live Call to Action [VIDEO]

Last week, I had the great honor of launching the OFBYFOR ALL global initiative as the opening keynote speaker at MuseumNext in London. The talk is a 35-minute introduction to the OFBYFOR ALL framework, with a museum bent given the audience. I hope you enjoy it. Here's the link if you can't see the video embedded below.

This talk was a real challenge for me to write. In the past, I treated keynotes as opportunities to share insights and stories. I rarely shared explicit calls to action beyond the option to buy a book. I tried to do a great job, but it felt safe. I didn't feel like I had anything on the line.

With OFBYFOR ALL, the stakes feel higher. We hope this project sparks a set of tools AND a global movement. So I don't just want audiences to enjoy the talk. I don't just want them to learn something from it. I want people to take action. To sign up, join in, and help us build a more inclusive world.

I care deeply about this call to action, which increased my vulnerability and nervousness in writing the talk. It increased my sense that I needed the audience. Without them, without you, there will be no global movement.

So I got stuck. I agonized over the talk. I spent hours trying out and scrapping material. I was afraid I couldn't give a talk that would inspire people to participate.

I broke through when I realized I'd been here before. I realized I was feeling the same fear and excitement that comes with any truly participatory project. We've launched many projects at the MAH - and in my own personal work - that only succeed if people respond to our call to action. Exhibitions that only exist if enough people contribute artwork. Projects that only happen if partners show up to meetings. Books that only get edited if people decide they want to help.

For years, I've believed that the most powerful question you can ask to shift to a participatory mindset is: how can participants help make this project better? When you ask this question, your relationship with participants starts to change. You start to need them. The power dynamic swings towards them. If they are the ones who can make the project great, then you get really focused on inviting them in the most powerful way possible.

OFBYFOR ALL will only impact millions if many people at many organizations get involved. And so I tried, with this talk, to invite you to get involved. I hope watching this video will encourage you to do so too. And if it doesn't, let me know why. This project is in its earliest stages, and I'd love any and all feedback on how we can make the invitation to participate as strong as possible.
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