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1st conference

This is the wiki page for our first BeWelcome Volunteers Conference, in Antwerp, Belgium, on the 19th and 20th of January 2008.


It's an open agenda. The two days of the conference are split in four parts (for now), so Saturday before noon, Saturday afternoon, etc. You can suggest a topic or put your username underneath an existing topic to indicate your presence.(See OpenSpace guidelines below) We have 4 large "working rooms", with space for up to 8 people.

Saturday before noon

  • Software Development Workshop and discussion about the PT platform.
  • Brainstorm about Community Profiles (for non tech people)
  • Opening the wiki (mostly online, led by guaka)

Saturday after noon

Saturday night (fever)

Saturday night should be an exciting night for the hospitality network of Antwerp. There are two big reasons for this:

  1. We're holding a hospitality party for all the networks. BeWelcomers, Couchsurfers and HCers are all welcome to a great, classic Belgian party. (See the party location above.) Of course, this is a wonderful opportunity to "activate" the Antwerp network, so bring your hosts!
  2. The are (unofficial) Couchsurfing elections on that evening (right before the party). It's a local experiment and hopefully a vision of the future. The elections were unfortunately succesfully sabotaged by the Belgian Country ambassador "Stijn". More information about this can be provided during the weekend.

Sunday before noon (11am: Brunch meeting)

Note: Because of the party the night before, we'll start a bit later. This session will therefor be over breakfast/lunch, we'll see how we can best handle multiple topics. (Perhaps separated breakfast tables with a buffet?)

  • Discussion about the priority of New Features
  • Volunteer management and motivation (or better: "volunteering and life"): How to prevent burn-out? How to motivate volunteers more? How to manage time constraints across the globe?

Sunday after noon

  • Brainstorm about the definition of BeWelcome and BeVolunteer
  • How to create a communtiy feeling in BeWelcome? How do we "reach out" and attract more wonderful members?
  • Practical workshop: Creating a tour (like flickr.com/tour) for the BW website. Related topics: USP (unique selling points), outcome of the before-noon-workshop "Discussion about the priority of New Features". Needed: texters, creatives, bw members

Suggested topics

  • Do we want promotion of BW in other communities, in part through viral marketing?
    Do we only want to attract people that already know of and are into hospex or do we want to attract many others and try to convince some of them that this is what they where always looking for?
  • How to bring an online community offline and back online?

We not yet succeeded to create a community feeling but it is pretty straight forward what is needed to do so in the online world. What seems much more difficult <!-- to me -- to who? --> is how to connect the online and offline world. Let's do some brainstorming if there are other cool features and ways to answer the following questinons.

* How to reduce the need of being online a lot and yet continue to participate in the (global) community.
* How to give feedback of offline community to the online community (nobody will recognize that we had a great conference with many exciting real life encounters)
  • Democracy and online environments (case study: wikiparty Finland) (this is something Anu <!-- guaka guesses --> would like to give a bit of a braindumb about when I learn more about it here locally, considering the subject matter is what BW/BV will need to tackle on a general level, and possibly because some participants might be interested in the specifics.
  • Privacy at BW/BV (Why? How? Developing FAQ about this issue, Codeguidelines ...)
  • or more general: Three deadly challenges/issues when running a hospex network: Privacy, safety, abuse of power. (another would be abuse of hospitality, but that's a different area).
    A good privacy policy and strategy could attract people who have so far hesitated to join couchsurfing or hc.
    interested: midsch, lemon-head, ?
  • Flexibility, creativity, personal freedom, self-expression, freedom of speech, diversity of people and lifestyles: How important are these ideas for BW/BV ? (for travelers, these values should be fundamental!)
  • BeFree - shaping a more flexible world, one change of plans at a time!
    Such questions will be important for our forum or groups moderation, and also for the signup team.
    interested: lemon-head, ?

    OpenSpace techniques

    We'll be using some simple OpenSpace ideas to make the conference as fun and worthwhile as possible:

    • There are a couple of "rooms" and there will be a board to post topics you wish to see discussed. You pick a room and an available hour and see who shows up. The board may be changed, updated and improved throughout the weekend.
    • There is no such thing as required attendance. Go to the topics that you find interesting. If you wish to change rooms, anyone can do so at any time. (So, yes, you can switch between two sessions whenever you like.)
    • There is no such thing as a "bad" topic. If noone is interested, then perhaps the time hasn't come for your idea yet.
    • We do try to keep notes and will post them publicly, to ensure everyone can share knowledge.
    • Make sure you have a moderator in your session, but it doesn't have to be the person that posted the topic.
    • You don't have to be in a session. If you like to do some work or prepare something, go ahead and find a spot outside of the sessions.
    • The kitchen, the back porch and the garden are "neutral zones". You can take a break there, hang back and relax.


    The idea is to hold an open, participant driven, conference (sometimes called unconference). Participating is easy, with these guidelines to help you:

    • There is room for about 20 participants. (This probably means everyone who is able to come, can stay).
    • 5 to 7 participants can spend the night at the host's place (tgoorden), we'll organize accomodation for the rest in Antwerp.
      While the above is still valid, participants are highly encouraged to seek accomodation through couchsurfing or hospitality club (please don't mention BeWelcome in your messages to HC members, as there is the chance that your message gets filtered out). This has several advantages:
      • It helps to spread the knowledge of BeWelcome. (Hint: Look for interesting profiles!)
      • There's a party on Saturday night, to which your host(s) and any friends with an interest in hospitality networks are invited.
      • It makes the house a bit more manageable (easier to keep clean throughout the weekend).
    • The conference is 500m from Antwerp Central Station.
    • We split the cost for food, most likely vegetarian (unless someone insists on meat). Indoor BBQ is possible ;-)
      Note: Of course, you might also want to spend dinner time with your host.
    • Travel costs are to be payed by the participant.
    • You can arrive somewhere on Friday and leave somewhere on Monday. (This is encouraged, we want to have two full days on Saturday and Sunday.)
    • Saturday evening, we can go out into the city for Belgian beers.
      See Saturday night schedule below.

    Party location

    The party on Saturday night will be at the Izzy Maze, Leopoldplaats 2, 2000 ANTWERPEN. We'll do a tango introduction at 9.30 pm for those interested and the rest of the dancing probably starts around 10.30 pm.

    Confirmed participants

    Most likely attending

    • Member|lemon-head|Andreas
    • Member|sylviesy|Sylvie-only on Sunday morning

    Might be attending

    • Tobixen I have a family and a job ... I don't think my wife would accept me wasting time and money going for a weekend trip to Belgium ... but I'll consider it. I can buy a ultracheap ticket from home to Stansted at the 15th of January if I act fast, but I have no clue on how I would get back again ;-)

    Wants to come, but can't

    • Member|platschi|platschi - Sorry, have exam on Tuesday and also the 1st ever HC/CS/BW Party in Enschede will take place that weekend ;)
    • user|philipplange - sorry, have to defend my thesis the week after
    • Member|Crumbking|Manuel Sorry, I can't ...
    • user|fabzgy sorry it s a bit too far/expensive for me to get there ;)
    • user|mahouni sorry, i have to work for my thesis and can`t come to Antwerp.
    • user|pietshah I'm impressed! So many interesting things will be discussed! Unfortunately too far to go... well, enjoy, discuss - and please document ;-) (thx, Thomas!)
    • user|kiwiflave Cannot attend but will follow discussions as much as possible from the (warm) distance :-) Have fun, people!
    • user|beduinka cannot come - to far, I'm living & working in Sudan now, also cannot live my work now! have fun!!!!!
    • user|ieva wanted to come, but too much stress with uni, exams, etc. at the moment. have fun and some productive work!

    Things to bring

    What do we bring? material? food? drinks?

    • I've make a cake... but please think about eating something else also... it's not as planned sucess ! Ocal5
    • Food and drinks will be bought by he host, we will split the costs evenly over the participants. It will be a vegetarian weekend because it's the cheapest and will accommodate most guests/hosts. Tgoorden (PS: If you feel obliged to bring something, a bottle of wine is always appreciated by the hosts. But, it is not expected at all!)
    • There will be two projectors (normally) and I'll try to bring a flipchart as well. Per Micha's suggestion, there will also be videocamera's to tape interesting stuff. Tgoorden


    There is an encrypted WiFi connection (type N ;-) available and you can plug in CAT-5 cables as well. There is one spare computer (Linux) and an extra iMac. We'll share a fairly decent ADSL line.