Duration of Brigade Congress

This discussion item is on how long the event should last. Do we want to keep the original timeframe of three days? Do others have thoughts on a different time period?

Add your discussion items in this Discourse, and we’ll incorporate it to the Agenda for the next meeting.

  • Three days
  • Longer/ spread out over a week
  • Shorter: one or two days

0 voters

Do we want to keep the original timeframe of three days? Do others have thoughts on a different time period?

Giving it some thought, I’m interested in a week vs. three days for the flexibility it can give everyone. This may just be my shellshock talking as we’re nearing the end of our first week of semester-long virtual learning over here, though. I’m not sure how many others (network-wide and otherwise) might be experiencing this many scheduling conflicts overall, or how many of us will still have them at that point in October.

Either way, I’m definitely curious about what others think of holding it over the course of a week.


I agree with @renejoywrites on this. Not only virtual learning for my kids, which creates enough scheduling conflicts, but also for those of us who teach, which has another set of conflicts associated with it.

I’d suggest spacing the sessions out quite a bit, so that people can schedule necessary meetings or other needs around them. Regarding the current state for us: I’ve found that I end up with lots of things all morning (why do people love scheduling meetings in the morning?) and in the evening (6pm and after), but not much in the mid-afternoon timeframe. Time zone considerations will likely wreck any attempt to accommodate that narrow a timeframe, though, so I think just spacing things out as much as possible would help to include the most people.


Thanks for sharing that, @ryan.b.harvey and @renejoywrites I can resonate with this (even despite not being in the parent category), and tend to agree on spacing it out. One thing sticks out to me on a key difference between in-person and virtual is that we should not have overlapping sessions (ie two scheduled at the same time.) Does that sound right to others, or have you seen conferences do that successfully?

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I voted without comment on that because I’m pretty solidly decided against overlap. There’s no reason for that with a virtual format, I believe, considering it’s done when in-person as a way to optimize a limited amount of time, space and availability. There are still limitations in a virtual setting, but I think those would actually be compounded by overlap than relieved by it.

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Iʻm ambivalent about long vs short, but what I am interested in is the nature of the commitment to participate from attendees. To the extent that flexibility accommodates diverse situations, I think some sort of standard commitment is a key building block of an effective convening. i.e. What IS participation, in addition to what IS NOT.

previously, this commitment was,

  • you physically remove yourself from your home situation
  • for 3 days
  • physically occupy a room where a session is occurring

There was always an ability not to do some of those things, but that base commitment framed what kinds of outcomes were possible. What is the expectation for successful participation in 2020? attending 1 session? presenting at 1 session? Attending a daily keynote?

I understand the event planning needs for the question above, but would argue the answer may follow this question of commitment, as well as relate to the goals conversation already in flight


I want to echo @bentrevino and add that a big value of the Brigade Congress experience for me is choosing to set aside the days to focus on brigade things. I think three days of programming but leaning into making it available in async formats for those that can’t do everything via YouTube, Slack, and Discourse could be a novel way to execute this.

I will further share that recently the folks at BARI had a conference they spread out over weeks. I think that format was generally successful for them and I was able to absorb content, but due to the spread out nature of it and fact I couldn’t just ask work for a day off to focus on BARI, I didn’t end up being fully present and participating in the networking aspects.


To Matt’s point about the BARI conference (speaking as the organizer of the BARI conference), there was a significant staff/organizer burnout factor, and it was difficult to keep people’s interest over the duration of the event. That said, that conference was 1 session/week over 15 weeks.

I think that the balance to be struck here is between momentum and focus (arguments for a condensed schedule) vs. making all events accessible to everyone (an argument for a spread out schedule). I am personally in favor of keeping the 3-day schedule as-is, at least mostly–the reality is that, if we do have the same amount of content as we would have had in person, I think most people will not have the bandwidth/energy to go to every single thing.

My suggestion would be that we consider spreading keynote-type events (things without significant opportunity for live interaction) over more days, but keep any workshops/unconference/interactive stuff condensed in 3. I think we’ll lose quite a few people

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I wonder what it would be like if we thought of “Congress” long term as something that happens throughout the year, with a peak event once a year. Then, we could get the focus of that main event. People would also be thinking about it all year long, so more likely to take off the time if at all possible (perhaps a Sunday / Monday combo to accommodate different schedules?). But, we don’t have to get a year’s worth of collaboration done in a weekend.

We could even “invert” it so that we’re sharing knowledge and collaborating throughout the year and the main event is where we retrospect on the previous year and set (or start to set) priority action areas for the next year.