WHAT MAKES A GREAT GATHERING?
In our experience, there are four key elements that, when integrated, lead to successful mass gatherings and expert event preparedness. These are Safety, Sustainability, Community Engagement, and Accessibility.
Event Safety encompasses everything from planning for weather, fire, medical emergency, to planning for crowd control, clean water, sufficient food, waste removal, active threats, and includes plans for a contingency venue. Attendees should be alerted about the safety plan; event producers should understand the importance of having an evacuation plan and emergency script. Additionally, designing culturally competent communications and fostering ethical, professional, fair and consistent relationships based on collective leadership is paramount to increasing safety at any large-scale event.
At the heart of Sustainability is converting single-use models to multi-use models. This involves creating resilient and multi-use event systems complete with back-up plans in terms of water, food, and waste. Equally important is a focus on active transportation options to make special events more inclusive, equitable and safe. Many of these strategies can be short-term demonstrations of how communities can invest in long-term sustainability projects.
Community Engagement starts with transparency and honesty to create strong and lasting relationships with community stakeholders. When producers take time to develop these relationships, planning can change course and result in more vibrant and more authentic gatherings. Producers can increase attendance and volunteers often respond quickly and positively, due to their loyalty and commitment to their neighborhoods. Engaging with the community to earn their buy-in is dynamic and requires attention and care.
Our model also requires producers to think about Accessibility, and not just for people with physical and mental disabilities. For example, how could your project be modified to be more accessible to people with a language, culture, gender, or age different from your own? How could your gathering be better prepared for extreme weather? Or for people using various modes of transportation? Keep asking these types of questions until your event is fully accessible.