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A New Paradigm for Holistic Events Emerges!
Posted by on 26 June, 2005

Chandler Armstrong A New Concept in Building Community at Our Events and Online
A new paradigm in the creation of holistic events has been emerging over the past few years! This new paradigm is radically different than the old concept of “holistic expos”, “wellness shows”, or “fairs” and offers an opportunity to bring community together in a dynamic new way.

By focusing on creating new levels of interactivity and involvement by facilitating “community”, a new type of event can be created with far-reaching benefits for all who participate.

This article looks at the old paradigm, what is necessary to shift this model and how you can benefit by becoming part of the new paradigm!




INTRODUCTION

A couple of years ago the Body Soul & Spirit Expo first introduced its proposal to cultivate an innovative concept in creating a new type of event. Our proposal was to create an event that allows for more interaction among the many exhibitors and presenters: as well as the many patrons to our events, and online visitors in the creation the Body Soul & Spirit Expo.

As we continue to share our vision, the response has been tremendous! For the past several weeks we have focused on sharing this vision of both expanding the scope of this year’s event, as well as continuing to building a supporting dynamic and interactive online community that covers the many facets of our holistic community.

While this new vision has began to take shape, and has resulted in the participation of several new individuals as part of our events and online, it became apparent that a new paradigm was emerging, and that a paradigm shift in how we all work together was necessary to take the entire concept to a new level.

In introducing this new concept, we have decided to focus on our Alberta Show in Edmonton and Calgary. For more information, please refer to the article in this month’s news “The Body Soul & Spirit Moves to Alberta” by Brad Simpson.

In this article, we would like to share our expanded vision with each of you, the new paradigm that we have begun to operate under and the concepts, goals and objectives that we are focusing on in creating an even more dynamic, exciting and successful event for this year, and several years to follow.

The article also invites you to participate in a plan of implementation that we feel will be beneficial to all of use to are part of the holistic community - from those who have just started to explore the options in creating a more holistic lifestyle - to the those who participate as a professional in this community.

SHARING THE VISION

Imagine being able to gather and interact with hundreds of like-minded individuals, sharing your ideas, passions, and knowledge and supporting and affirming each other’s growth and success. This is only part of the benefit of coming together as community.

WHY BUILD COMMUNITY

The dictionary defines Community as “A group of people having common interests”, however, this simplistic definition fails to convey all that community is, and what it offers.

The word community refers to togetherness by location or interests or heritage or purpose. Thus a community can consist of people with far-flung ideas from many different locations, which share something, something all members have in common, therefore making them a cohesive community.

Our community does not hold a common heritage, language, or location, but we are bound together by a common interest and purpose -our interest in exploring new concepts, products, and resources that improve the quality of life on all levels - physically, emotionally, and spiritually.

In coming together as community, we each offer our unique expertise, knowledge and resources and thereby facilitate the creation a unique opportunity to share the many options available in the individual pursuit of this quest.

The results can be seen in the almost ten years that our events have been taking place through the many who have shared with us how our events, and in particular the individuals they have had a chance to meet with, have profoundly effected their lives. This has been the key motivation for continuing to put on our events year after year.

One should think that this is enough to find broad support for any endeavour that forwards our common interest and purpose of our community, and supports the efforts of the many individuals and members.

But that is of course not always so. The interest and commitment, especially when money is concerned are situated far apart. Broad communal support for any given purpose is not always a given, as some of us might have found out over the years.

Part of this, in our observation, is that there has not been a common or unifying organizations or institutions that brings our community together. Other communities based on heritage, religion, or culture have physical structures, cultural events, and organization that serve as a point of contact, which allows them to act as a cohesive force in uniting them in positive and cooperative activities of mutual benefit.

It has come time for someone to pick up the torch and create the needed means to serve this purpose within our community, and by doing so, allowing for positive interaction and support.

An Example of the new community concept at work!

On of the most exciting parts of creating a new concept in facilitating community interaction to effect positive results can already be seen how the supporting website for the Body Soul & Spirit Expo (The Body Soul & Spirit Online Community) has been growing in it’s scope and value with each member that joins.

In particular, many of our members have taken the time to submit informative and well-written articles, offering information on a myriad of subject now being posted in the member articles section of the website.

These articles have began to covering subjects ranging from Aromatherapy and Live Blood Analysis, to personal growth, meditation and inspirational articles, all providing visitors to our site with access to the collective knowledge, wisdom and experience of our exhibitors and professional members.

This is a prime example of one of the ways we can all come together to provide a mutually supportive and valuable resource for all the members of our community.

This trend of coming together as community has also produced positive results through the other features such as the online community calendars, directory of practioners, business and products and the “ask an expert forums”. We feel that by extending the same level of collaborative effort throughout our organization will also result in taking our events to a totally new level as well.

Note: The Body Soul & Spirit Online community is an amazing new resource, you can read more about it’s history, what it is, and how it works in the Article, "An Invitation to Join the Body Soul & Spirit Online Community". This article looks at how The Body Soul & Spirit Online Community was designed as a dynamic and interactive site that automatically grows and expands as people join. see http://bodysoulspiritexpo.com/enewsplus/enews.php3?nid=7

A NEW PARADIGM

What is a Paradigm? The dictionary defines paradigm as “A set of assumptions, concepts, values, and practices that constitutes a way of viewing reality for the community that shares them.” Or “a philosophical or theoretical framework”

Old Paradigms:
Traditionally, the Body Soul & Spirit Expo was produced or organized! Using this operational procedure, marketing material was created, distributed, and followed up through numerous phone calls by someone representing the shows.

While this is the most common procedure for putting on an event like the Body Soul & Spirit Expo, is resulted in the perpetuation of the concept that those who were participating were “buying a product”.

In turn, most exhibitors would show up at the event, set up their booths, and present their lectures. In turn, patrons would attend the event, interacting and experiencing the many products services and resources offered, but involvement beyond this level between these two groups, while occurring to some degree, was limited.

Despite sharing the vision of creating an event, which encouraged participation as a community, this concept, while receiving the approval of most who participated, obviously needed something more to shift it from a concept, to a working model that would result in greater community involvement.

Part of the problem lay in our approach in basic discordance between the vision and our perceived role in creating these events, and the resulting perceptions that govern how our members participated. This can be clearly seen in the most common terms used to define what we were trying to accomplish as outlined below….

Show Organizer: One who put something together into an orderly, functional, structured whole.

This perception precipitates the concept that an organization is acting solely in the creation of the event, and does not create or encourage community participation. The result is a typical participant feeling that they need only show up, as everything is being done for them.

Show Producer: One who puts on or “produces” something, or one who supervises and controls the creation and public presentation of a public presentation of a play, film, program, or similar work.

This creates a perception of the event as a “show” or “production” in which the participants are divided up into the person observing or “taking in” the show, and the others as the “content” of the show. Exhibitors are seen as one of the “acts” of a larger production. The result is the event is only seen for it’s entertainment value from the perspective of those who attend, or its promotional value from the perspective of the exhibitors, and presenters.

These two titles are commonly used in our industry as a title, however they do not fit what we are trying to accomplish. This demonstrates the fact that a new term, and it’s corresponding perspective needs to be formulated. Hence, a new paradigm…

THE NEW PARADIGM!

Community Facilitator: One who allows or invites or makes the creation of a community possible.

In our original mission and vision in creating the Body Soul & Spirit Expo, we have always seen our function as bringing together an extraordinary group of individuals, businesses, experts, authors, teachers, and leaders to showcase all the options available in creating a truly and dynamically happier, healthier, fulfilling and more conscious lifestyle, and thereby, encourage each individual to implement these many different option, according to their needs, into their lifestyle.

To facilitate, in it’s conventional meaning implies to “allow”, however, at times it can be a lot more difficult that it sounds. We (myself and Brad Simpson - the event manager) have now worked to organize these events for almost 10 years, speaking with countless individuals, and sharing the vision of what we were creating has been challenging at times.

Brad, in his position of show manager, shoulders the responsibility of signing the leases for these events, contracting the suppliers, security, paramedics, signing promotional contract with Radio Stations, Television Networks and Newspapers, obtaining insurance (which as risen up to 800% since 911 for public events), and taking care of the many details needed to put on such an event, does so in complete faith that I will find enough people will support these events to meet the expenses.

Personally, over the past few years, I often have found my enthusiasm in working to put together these events wax and wane. At most times it has been a pleasure, and I have felt truly honoured in having been able to connect with so many great people in the process. In a final retrospective analysis, it has become obvious that if we were to bring about a new and improved concept in creating the event we were proposing, we would have to do things differently.

I am reminded of Dr. Margaret J. Wheatley in Leadership and the New Science explaining the connection between “Chaos Theory”, and breakthrough solutions! In it she demonstrates how it is only when we are willing to going into the depths of our situation, and work with the resulting states of total bewilderment, and confusions that we really experience true revelation that results in breakthrough revolutions. Or, as said by Plato in “The Republic” “necessity is the mother of invention”.

It’s easy to stay stuck in the same pattern. If you just keep doing the same thing the same way you’ve always done it, you’re likely to get about the same results!

Although we had the vision, and had began working with the intent of creating a new type of community orientated event, and over the year had introduced many new ideas, resources and tools to help create the level of interaction, it has become apparent that we were attempting to create something new by using the tools and methods of an old paradigm.

In order to actuate this new paradigm and move more into the role of facilitating, or allowing community to come together, we have begun to adopt several new methodologies that will allow us to come together in the creation of a holistic community!

FROM VISION TO REALITY... A Call to Action!

The new level of participation that we are proposing involves every member of the community, from those who attend, presenters, exhibitors and vendors.

In organizing an event that brings such a diverse group together we have often found ourselves the recipients many of suggestions and recommendations, however, each of our events, when all has been said and done, is no better or no worse than the totality of those who participate.

Far beyond the “entertainment” value for the many who attend our events -- and certainly beyond the promotional value to the many experts, practioners, authors, speakers and vendors -- lies the true value, which are the act of bring community together, and unity as we share the tools, wisdom and knowledge our holistic community, and the real results in the lives of those who thereby benefit.

In building a community, every individual counts! Our community is comprised of both those who offer their expertise, products, services and knowledge, as well as those who can benefit from them.

Whether you choose to participate by simply attending the event, sitting in on one or more lectures, or explore the exhibitor hall, its many exhibits, organizations, products and offerings -- or choose to participate as a presenter, business, healing arts practitioner, alternative health or therapy provider, or consult in feng shui, or one of the many intuitive arts, it’s your participation that makes the event what it is.

PUTTING THE PLAN INTO ACTION

The Holistic Lifestyle Foundation,

As part of the process of creating more community involvement, a separate non-profit entity was created to facilitate the development of programs that would better serve the needs of our community, and provide a format for all of us to work together.

Along with the basic offices created for the administration of the foundation, additional committees have been formed to carry out the need activities needed to achieve the foundations objectives! Both the functions and tools given to each of these committees are outlined below.

Community Building through Committee Participation.

Note: The root word of “committee” is “commit” and in building community refers to a group of people that are committed to the betterment of community through positive action and participation as a group!

In the facilitation of an event involving greater participation by all of its members, we have established a number of online tools that will assist those who participate in those activities of the committees in working effectively together, and monitor the progress their group, as well as maintain an ongoing dialogue between all of it’s members.

As our members are from many different location, with different schedules and a varying amount of their time and resources that they can dedicate to the community building activities of each committee, these tools will allow for the flexibility needed to participate in accordance to their own needs in accomplishing the goals and objectives of each committee.

We realize that you may only have a limited amount of time, or you may not live in an area that allows you to attend committee meetings. To better facilitate your involvement, we have provided the following tools….

Online Committee Forums: Each Committee and it’s members will have access an online committee forum, which will allow them to communicate their objectives, coordinate and assign tasks to accomplish these objectives, and report their progress. Each member of the committee will receive email notification, and will be able to interact both online (for absent members).

We currently have several individuals who have offered their support in three initial committees. These committees are the Hospitality Committee, Promotion and Publicity Committee, and the Fundraising Committee. Each of these committees has its unique charge and is self-directing.

The online surveys: This feature will help us to better communicate with all our members and help us create events tailored to their interests. For example, membership surveys could help us select event speakers, workshops, and exhibits as well as indicate the level of interest in new features at events or online.

The practical application of this feature would be determining what speakers and workshops and types of exhibits they are interested in seeing, determination of the interest of our members in new features at the events as well as in our online community.

Benefits of Participation as a Committee Member: Members receive weekend passes to the Body Soul & Spirit Expo, and are invited to a special volunteer party.

Hospitality Committee - Head Pamela Viola
- Exhibitor and friends social or dinner
- The volunteer party
- Monthly networking & support meetings

Designer, artist, yoga instructor and belly dance teacher Pamela Viola has been the creative force behind many social events, and fundraisers. Her warmth and grace are some of the qualities that have made her stand out as the perfect spearhead for the hospitality committee.

As head of the Hospitality committee, we look forward to the success of more social events where we can all come together in a more social environment, and establish the new friends and contacts that we are often to busy cultivate during the Body Soul & Spirit Expo.

If you are naturally social, and love getting together with people, becoming a member of her committee may be the just the opportunity for you. The number of needed members is limited, so be sure to get involved soon.

Promotional Committee - Head (To be determined)

- Distribution of posters, post cards, and fliers to high traffic locations.

- People are needed of each area of the cities and surrounding satellite communities for each show e.g. in Edmonton, Sherwood park, St. Albert, Calgary Airdrie, Strathmore, Lethbridge, Canmore, Saskatoon and Regina. Our events have always attracted attendance from not only the cities in which they are located in, but increasing amount of people travel from surrounding cities, other provinces, and several even attend from the U.S. and other countries.

- Posters will be available online, and everyone will be encourage to print the color or black and white poster to distribute in their areas, this will help overcome the diverse locations of many of the members.

- Distribution of posters and materials by mail to committee members in locations outside the immediate area of the each event.

- Installing the show banners, in accordance to our permit with the city, on major traffic and pedestrian overpasses.

The promotional committee’s function also includes out-reach, and assists in assuring that we the materials for both the events and community are widely distributed.

Part of this committee is models after several community revitalization projects, who’s purpose was to reach more people at a grass roots level, and place the material that spreads the message of our community directly into the hands of many people who would never hear about us through any other means. This committee is the front line in raising awareness in gaining the support and awareness needed for community growth.

Special Events Committee - Head (to be determined)

Over the years, it has been the intent of the Body Soul & Spirit Expo host several notable individuals who represented the vanguard of new thought, and new lifestyle options. These have included notable authors and experts that would serve as an inspiration to our many members in their quest to create and cultivate their own holistic lifestyle.

Although a noble goal, the costs involved have often been prohibitive, and in many cases have resulted in our events closing at a deficient. For that reason, we have chosen to fund this aspect of events as a separate non-profit entity, which will allow us to continue to function as it has, while giving a considerably more options in fulfilling this part of our vision.

Together with the collaborative effort of all our members, allowing them to participate in the selection of the speakers and experts to be part of the workshop and presentation, the fundraising committees primary purpose will be to raise funds that will make it possible to improve the workshops and programs available at our event.

This committee would also be giving a number of campaigns that would help raise the funds necessary for these programs, including the show guide and directory as well as online promotional products, which would be offered, to corporate sponsors.

In addition, they would raise funds for the other committee’s community building efforts, such as the hospitality committee’s events, as well as well as to fund the production of promotional materials for the promotional committee.

Excess funds raised would be used for other causes that arise in our community, and need financial assistance.

Functions include…

- The creation of the show guide, and sales of advertising space and website banner ad to raise funds for special programs, workshops and other community projects.

- The discussion, planning and implementation of other campaigns to raise funds for these programs,

- Communicating with the membership, considering applications, and putting together the workshop program for the Body Soul & Spirit Expo.

How to get involved!

Each of us has skills and talents that can make a difference. We have shared with you a few of the initial ways you can contribute, and I am sure that as we continue to build our community many more ways that we can all work together will come to light.

· For now, look at some of the objectives we are working to accomplish and get involved. You can start by calling or emailing the particular committee head of the area you are most suited to and attend their next meeting, or join their online forum.

· Share the information about what we are all doing with others, and encouraging them to get involved in building our community.

· Share your passions and ideas in our online community, in the online forums, surveys, through articles. As more of us get involved, and become inspired you may well find that these become an important part of both the Body Soul & Spirit Expo, and our online communities program.

· If you are a holistic business, practitioner, spa, wellness centre, or fit into any of the other categories of our online community directory, sign up for a professional membership. Your membership directly funds the on-going development for this community, and it’s expansion. We currently have several more improvements and promotions planed, and are waiting for enough members to support them.

· Support our community out community members by visiting the online calendar for you area and consider attending their events, or utilizing the great products or services that they offer.

· Call us to organize a group rate for your business or organization to attend the Body Soul & Spirit Expo in your community.

Even if you can only commit to placing a few posters in your local stores and centres, it is the combination of the efforts of everyone, large or small, that will result in effecting the final outcome.

In short, participate, become part of what’s happening, you may be surprised at how everyone, include you benefit from your efforts. To get started, fill out our volunteer application and oand one of our volunteer coordinators will get intouch with with more information. (Hint: use the Detailed Description Field to tell us a bit about yourself and how you would like to be involved)


Summary:
Imagine how much we can all accomplish if we all work together! Our hope and vision for the future is a strong united community that will allow for the continued growth of all members. Words alone only have the power when they inspire action, and the key to building this community is your participation.. We invite each of you who share this vision to participate with us in the creation of something truly wonderful!
____________________________________________________

Note: The Holistic Lifestyle Foundation launch is anticipated for December 4, 2004! At that time further details will be shared on our website as well as to our email list of the inaugural meeting, the executive, and committee heads, as well as opportunities available for those who want to participate on one of the committees. Those who choose to join by filling in the
volunteer membership will recieve news and updates via email.



7 Comments   ·   Add comment   ·   read 7577 times


Comments
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Blessings,
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Reiki Master

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