DARE TO SAY IT
EVENT / TEAMDARE
TEXT AKSELI HUHTANEN
Sixteen months ago I was sitting in a library finishing my degree, when I got a call. I instantly replied ”yes” when I heard what it was about: would I want to join a project to build an international learning event in Helsinki. It was my dream project: basically nothing had been done yet, it was all about learning, and the dream was to make an impact. Now, more than a year later, the first Dare to Learn is over - and it still is my dream project. Starting from scratch is never easy, but it was fun and meaningful. Above all, we all learned a lot. Here are my learnings from the Dare to Learn 2017 project.
Learn from the wise and experienced
Whatever you’re trying to do, it is always a good idea to first ask from the ones who are wiser and more experienced than you. Despite the hurry and pressure to gather funding and content, I read a ton about learning, educational systems and change, event management, project management, leadership, creative techniques, facilitation and a bunch of other things. But the most important were the discussions. I am very thankful for all the discussions with dozens of experts from various fields who were kind enough to help me figure out what kind of event on learning was missing in the world.
Include & involve
If you’re looking for impact on society, you should be part of that society. Any movement consists of multiple actors and organizations, and this means that true impact can only come through inclusion. At Dare to Learn, we started from the very beginning to involve all kinds of partners: companies, educational institutions, NGO’s, government agencies, individuals. We met with perhaps hundreds of people, heard their message and took into the team anyone who was willing to donate her time. Some people were able to put in more time, and created Dare to Learn as it happened. This way, when the event was actually taking place, it was truly by community to community, not just filling a dream of a bunch of people.
Believe in your values
A lot of people were naturally dubious, whether this new kind of event targeted at such a wide range of people would function. But this is a misconception that is so often used against new ideas: ”If that would work, it would have been done before”. But still new events, products and works of art appear constantly. People can get interested in new things they did not know they would be interested in. People may find common with new people they didn’t know even existed. To find new things that are valuable to people, you should reflect upon your values. Values are the orienting, shared, most stable principles that guide our life. If something suits your values but doesn’t exist as a movement in society, it is highly probable that it will gain popularity if you start a campaign.
We believed in the universal value of learning, and saw that ideas and solutions related to it don’t spread between different sectors. Idea of connecting them under one roof seemed weird for many, but turned out to be feasible since so many believed in the value of learning. I am very grateful for all who believed in the value of our project before nothing concrete was built.
See the value of learning during process
Not all projects are successful. I have been able to inspire people into projects that failed in the end. But still I think those have been necessary, because we have all learned from them. If you consider your project a test, set clear objectives and measure them, then you will at least end up with new understanding on what works and what doesn’t. And what would be more valuable than learning?