(Extract from the Minutes from the first part of a PGA meeting that happened on Sunday 3rd July 2005, Teviot Building, in Edinburgh, prepairing the global conference that was supposed to happen on october, 2005. We copy this text as it's an intersting proposition about how to organise a conference...)
As the organisations register for the conference, they provide information on the activities they want to propose. This is essentially the data that will be used to merge activities. There must be a facilitating group that goes through the proposals and works out the possible connections between them. It's better to only try to work out a way of grouping after having read them all, instead of before, as there might be more than one way of doing it (and starting from one could possibly prevent the others from being considered). If the intention is to create networks and facilitate common campaigns and projects, the best thing is to focus on the issue or area that the organisations work on (depending on how diverse they are, it's also important to pay attention to differences in profile).
(Even if not all proposals for activities are produced in writing and following a particular format, the facilitating group must keep track of all of those who come in – someone would have to anyway, for the programme to be produced!)
After the grouping for the first day has been done, the facilitating group should go through the proposals again to develop a 'mind map' of the possible connections. This is helpful for two reasons: to have a first idea of the possibilities that exist for the second day; and to try and already put some groups in contact with others.
Two sessions (morning and first half of the afternoon) where groups working on similar issues/areas/campaigns get together, present their work, discuss the similarities/differences, exchange ideas and experiences etc. If possible, they should produce charts etc. that can be presented to the other groups.
One session (second half of the afternoon) where there's a report back from the two sessions of the day, and based on it people collectively try to work out what the overlaps are, and how the sessions can be grouped for the following day. If there's a lot of difficulty in doing that, the facilitating group might present the 'mind map' prepared previously; but that shouldn't be necessary.
Two 'overlap' sessions among groups who decided the previous day to have sessions together. The stress should be on how their campaigns can be related, how skills can be shared among them, how they can concretely contribute to each other's work etc. At the end of the day, another report back session where groups present what has come up in their meetings, and everyone can make suggestions and proposals. If necessary, another session could be scheduled for another day to continue the discussion, as well as smaller meetings among groups who have decided to work together.