GCUC Berkeley Conference Blends Activities and Seminars to Promote Growth
For three days in early May, Berkeley was host to the fourth year of the Global Coworking Unconference Conference (GCUC), pronounced as “juicy” in homage to famed TV host Stephen Colbert; the GCUC is a funky, integrated conference full of team building activities and seminar sessions revolving around the expanding world of Coworking. The conference was host to over 300 participants and was the first time the event has been held in California. In its early days, GCUC was just a series of meetups centered in Austin, Texas; in 2010, under the advisement of Liz Elam, current executive producer, the Unconference was renamed GCUC. What began as a half-day event in 2011 sponsored by a startup known as Loosecubes, GCUC conferences have now expanded internationally, with its first global event in Sydney, Australia June 4 and 5.
Not Your Average Conference
Day one of the Berkeley conference was split into two halves: one schedule for those who were attending their first GCUC conference, and another for “legacy” attendees. Days two and three allowed newbies and legacies to mingle during the program events, some of which started as early as 6:30 a.m. Newcomers on their first day attended GCUC Camp and were treated with a camp dinner at the end of the day — s’mores for dessert rounded out the camp theme. Each day at the conference was packed with sessions led by top names in the Coworking world, such as Brad Neuberg, who founded the first Coworking space in San Francisco back in 2005. During the more informal “Unconference” sessions, participants were asked to lead discussions on topics of their choosing, an integration of participant and leader, which sets the GCUC apart from more traditional conferences. Integration of participants into the direction of the conference mirrored aspects of Coworking in a way that a traditional conference format couldn’t have. The California event drew people from 15 different countries. Mixed into the packed schedule of speakers, participants were sent on a scavenger hunt on the second day, something “fun” to break up the possible banality of a typical conference schedule, according to GCUC producer Mike LaRosa.
Range of Topics Aid Conference Success
Emphasized throughout the three day event was the community factor that sets Coworking apart from simply sharing office space. Neuberg encouraged companies to not only provide space, but to build on the notion of Coworking, and to foster a community feeling. Coworking spaces are no longer cold cubicles and temporary rented space — they’re seen as growth opportunities. Topics at the conference included real estate practices, how to market a space for maximum investment, as well as technical breakdowns, such as what to do before signing a lease and how to cope with a work environment full of people. The future for Coworking was also on a front burner at the conference, eliciting notions of partnering with educational institutions, expanding to smaller cities, suburbs and even rural settings, as well as local and global networks for mobile coworkers and Coworking alliances.
GCUC Goes International, Takes Sydney by Storm
In the fall of 2014, GCUC announced its aspirations to take the conference international, and in June of this year, GCUC is partnering with Third Spaces Group for the GCUC Australia Coworking Conference, a two day event in Sydney aimed at incorporating international and local spaces, with the same overall quirky atmosphere of the May Berkeley conference. The Sydney conference is a part of a larger festival, Vivid Sydney, scheduled for May 22 through June 8 and will kick off with a lights show. Tickets for the June conference are running at approximately $240.00, with a special promotion for students.
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