AdaCamp was a popular and effective two-day unconference run by the Ada Initiative and dedicated to increasing women’s participation in open technology and culture. While no more AdaCamps will be held, the Ada Initiative is happy to share the open source AdaCamp Toolkit, which gives people the tools they need to run events similar to AdaCamp.
Running a feminist unconference
Naming: We love AdaCamp-like events, but “AdaCamp” is a registered trademark, please find an alternative name for your event, such as the name of woman pioneer in your field.
- AdaCamp’s unconference model: AdaCamp was an unconference, but in order to have productive feminist discussion about women in open technology and culture, and be inclusive, we provided some structure and support in our unconference model.
- Challenging topics and self-care: strategies for feminist unconference organizers to use to lower the risk of people being upset or hurt at your event, and strategies to share with participants about how to manage their own risk of being upset or hurt.
- Managing applications to an invitation-only unconference: in order to achieve AdaCamp’s goals, we wanted to avoid filling the schedule with very introductory feminist content, or disputes about basic feminist principles. Thus, we asked that people apply to attend, and asked applicants to demonstrate some knowledge of feminism and some existing interest in open technology and culture.
The Ada Initiative, which led the push for anti-harassment policies at open technology and culture events, developed several additional policies for use at AdaCamp:
- Anti-harassment policy
- Photography/video/audio recording policy
- Reporting/blogging/social media policy
- Scent and smoking policy
- Pre-event cultural information gathering: an initial guide to some questions you could to ask before holding an AdaCamp-like unconference in a cultural context you are unfamiliar with.
- Initial venue assessment: an overview of the venue needs for an event like AdaCamp
- Venue evaluation: an evaluation designed to be completed by event staff during a visit to a venue, prior to booking the event
- Offering a travel grant program: some of the difficulties you may encounter setting up a travel grants program, especially an international one, and some potential solutions.
- Lightning talks: consider the AdaCamp Toolkit lightning talk model if you have a lot of novice speakers at your event and your event isn’t primarily about participants sitting listening to talks
- Small group dinners: group dinners give attendees a chance to spend an extended period of time with a small enough group that they can get to know each other
- Serving alcohol at social events: a guide to serving alcohol in a way that is more inclusive and less high pressure than at some technology industry and workplace events.
- Inclusive event catering: AdaCamp aimed to cater tasty, nutritious food that all attendees could eat. But there are lots of tricks and traps to hitting all three of “tasty”, “nutritious” and “all attendees can eat”!
- Demarcated access lanes: AdaCamps featured demarcated access lanes; corridors on the floor marked with tape in which people could move, but shouldn’t be stationary, allowing clear travel paths through the event.
- Supporting d/Deaf and hard of hearing people at an unconference: offering an interpreter or CART services for sign users is vital to access for d/Deaf/hard of hearing attendees.
- Childcare: conference childcare allows parents and guardians to attend your event and more fully participate than they would be able to if they had to primarily care for a child
- Gender-neutral restrooms: a gender neutral restroom is for attendees who do not feel comfortable choosing between binary-gendered restrooms
- Quiet room: a quiet room is a comfortable room where talking and other interactions with other attendees aren’t allowed.
- Freeform badges: AdaCamp provided blank badges, a variety of colorful markers, badge holders and lanyards and attendees made their own badges.
- Sample website content: a template copy of the AdaCamp website content including information about venue, selection of attendees and accessibility.
- Letter to venue sponsor: introduce AdaCamp-like events to potential hosts so that they can decide if they can host your event.
- International travel support letters: letters for you to provide to attendees to explain their visit to immigration authorities.
We also encourage events to use AdaCamp materials:
- Our Overcoming Impostor Syndrome training materials, based on training run at many AdaCamps.
- Our conference booklet and associated materials help build safe events for women.
- WordPress’s new plugin making dropdown menus more accessible.
- Our role cards for session participants to help make each session stays on-topic and inclusive of all participants.