Open Spaces: building trust and creating connections at RightsCon 2021

The 10th edition of RightsCon (June 7-11) is less than a month away, and as plans for the program – our largest yet! – take shape, our team is excited to introduce a new initiative called Open Spaces to help our community connect, form partnerships, and advance the conversation for human rights in the digital age. 

The idea for Open Spaces originated from feedback that we received from RightsCon Online (2020). Participants wanted to see more opportunities for networking and spaces to make “hallway” connections, socialize, and unwind, as we would have in an in-person setting. Open Spaces emphasize building partnerships, coalitions, and networks of trust within the RightsCon community – and, importantly, offer an opportunity to have a little fun and relax.

RightsCon 2021 will support three different formats for Open Spaces: Social Hours, Free Play, and After Dark.

Social Hours are hosted in an integrated platform and provide flexible, informal space for meeting other participants on a variety of topics, from social or creative activities, games and icebreakers, to drop-in hours with funders and company leaders, and more. Every day of RightsCon will host a few Social Hours, each of which will open for 60 minutes and will feature virtual “tables” that seek to replicate the feel of meeting new and old friends over coffee breaks in an in-person summit. 

Social Hours overlap with public sessions, which means participants can choose to take a break from the fast-paced and dynamic conversations hosted in sessions at RightsCon and join a table with others in our community to share ideas on regional or thematic priorities, discuss books and movies, and explore other topics of relevance. Unlike public sessions, where the door “closes” after the seats are filled, you can rotate between tables that interest you.

Free Play events are centered on games, wellness, and culture. Feeling overwhelmed? Want to take a moment for yourself? Join a wellness class to relax and feel refreshed. If you are feeling competitive, set some time aside for play: join the International Republican Institute, National Democratic Institute and Center for International Private Enterprise for a game of Democracy Dixit and build the future of your wildest dreams, or settle in for a round of “Social Media Against Humanity” with Embajadores de Internet.

After Dark events are live performances and film screenings that create a fun, relaxed atmosphere for participants. Grab a snack, settle in, and join us for some entertainment at “After Dark” events where you can unwind and enjoy a performance or film screening alongside other participants – no matter what time of day it is for you. Watch our  screening of A Thousand Cuts, a documentary that follows Maria Ressa, renowned journalist and top target of President Rodrigo Duterte’s crackdown on the news media in the Philippines (Maria will also be speaking at RightsCon!).

Want to host a film screening or perform in our program? Drop us a line at [email protected] and tell us your idea!

Building open and responsive spaces

With so many sessions on offer at RightsCon, whether online or in person, people often dive into the program without taking the same space to pause and connect. Open Spaces events aim to provide you with the structure and support to do just that, whether it’s networking at a virtual table, playing a game, or enjoying a film. Registered RightsCon participants will be able to filter the program schedule to see and join all Open Spaces when they get access to the platform on June 1, 2021. 

We recognize some of the most valuable experiences at RightsCon happen at lunch tables and lounges, over coffee and drinks, or during quiet moments of self-reflection. We’re learning about and experimenting in bringing those experiences online alongside our community, and we welcome ideas and feedback as we convene for our 10th anniversary event. 

Register for RightsCon by May 21

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