Registration 2017

Hey everybody!

This is the UEEH organising group giving you the latest update about registration for UEEH 2017. As you may know, we decided to close the online registrations a few weeks ago. This email to clarify the situation has been in the making since the end of May, but it’s been delayed by lots of changes along the way.

After dozens and dozens of hours of discussions, debates, laughter, tiredness, tension, coffee, herbal teas and coke, we’re writing this mail to explain the situation and where things are at for this summer.

We are made up of lots of different people with different priorities and ways of doing things. We’re getting know each other, learning how to organise together, to disagree, and to compromise. We’re all people who really value the UEEH project. Also, we don’t always agree on what this project is, but we want to work together. We thought it would be cool to put that out there, that you know that we haven’t taken these decisions lightly. And that it’s the result of what seemed to us the best for the UEEH!

We also wanted to thank all the people who helped these discussions with their oral, written, and culinary contributions!

Why is the registration already closed?

For this year’s event, it was decided to rent 150 beds and to accommodate a maximum of 175 people at any one time. This capacity seemed right to us even though it was higher than the last two years.

Why ?

  • Because we thought it would be easier to organize a small event, especially in a new place that we don’t know - Vic en Bigorre
  • Because for many of us, fewer people is less stressful, we’re less likely to be always asked to do things being part of the organisation team (especially when you’re identified for certain logistics tasks), this helps relieve us of some of the stress of welcoming people, it reduces the risk of conflicts (according to the principle of fewer people, fewer conflicts?). His took into account the situation in 2014 and the tensions there were.
  • Because the space in the high school that we rented can’t be increased, more people would have meant being more crowded in the rooms and inside spaces, making living conditions less easy! And emotional / relational conditions too!
  • Because some positions are more stressful with lots of people: when you’re in contact with invited participants and you want them to have a good time, sometimes it’s harder when there’s loads of people. When you’re in contact with the place and you want to avoid getting into conflict - legal, financial - with the administration. Even more so if we want to come back to this place or not make it harder for us to rent other places in the future. Because no, we don’t yet have anywhere for 2018 and often, the new places contact the last ones to know how it went!
  • Basically, we hoped that an event with 200 people increases the chances of creating a better atmosphere, to better meet each other, to be less lost in the crowd of the participants, and that it is just more comfortable and more joyful all round!

And then, alongside all that, we had also decided to prioritise the attendance of people invited by the international working group that had to go through visas and embassies. So we reserved 70 places for people from more than 20 different countries.

And then also, this year, well there were just loads of people excited about the UEEH! So there were loads of us in the organisation team: if we count the organisation of the eventplus all the groups / projects attached to the UEEH, there were 55 of us! There are lots of different working groups and groups working on specific projects that work hard all year round, inviting lots of people to come.

So when we opened the online registration, there were actually 80 places available (150 minus 70 for the people invited by the international commission). And these 80 places were almost full in a few days! The members of the organisation team weren’t even able to sign up!

We hadn’t expected that at all. We didn’t have a plan fort that ... We had not realised that all the working groups had worked with a lot of people, that there were so many of us involved in the project, that so many people wanted to come. And that all our decisions were not really compatible ...

There’s no denying that the fact that there are a lot of people who want to come to the UEEH does make us very happy. Because it is a space we love, that we’ve put lots into and we’re happy that It can be a space that fulfills so many people’s desires and needs!

And that was that, the registration was closed in accordance with the decision we had taken collectively, and we decided to take some time to think about how we would respond to this extraordinary situation! Such an important decision could only be taken by everyone together (we always work like that at the UEEH), and our next meeting was at the end of May in Toulouse.

Ok so what to we do now?

We talked a lot about the situation, we had long discussions - actually almost all of the Toulouse week-end was spend on those discussions about how do we re-open registration?

We don’t want to close a community space to people who need it, we want to bet on our abilities for self-management and collective organisation, we want to put more people in the same space, lower our individual comfort requirements so that more people can be benefit and be part of that space. After long hours discussing and making comprimises, we agreed on the fact that we wanted to accept up to 300 people at the same time. Of course it means less individual space in rooms and collective spaces.

After the week-end we contacted the high school to negociate that new number with them, but actually they can only rent us 230 matresses and they don’t accept more than 230 people on the site at the same time (even during the day). This limit is written in the contract we signed with them and they can’t go over it when then rent to groups for legal reasons related to security norms that they can’t change. At some point there were discussion about camping on site, but the high does not agree, so that’s not an option for us.

We decided to respect the limit imposed by the high school, because not respecting our contract with them can have negative consequencese for our ogranisation, for example it can make it harder to find a place for next year, or in the worst case there might be legal repercussions.

Also, we decided to give priority for registration to people who worked during the year on the UEEH, and people invited by commissions whose mission is to invite people and make the UEEH more accessible (for example the French Sign Language commission who works to invite deaf people and make the UEEH more accessible to them). As these projects became bigger this year, that phase made us reach 200 people registered.

The UEEH project is also a way of organising collectivelly all year long, which relies among other things on working week-ends (this year, 6 week-ends for a total of 24 days of meetings) and each week-end is made possible by a team who hosts us and cooks for us. It was important for us to acknowledge this invisible but indispensable work by giving some priority to those people for registration. We had lots of internal debates regarding the balance between that and our desire to open registration for the largest possible number of people who are not already in touch with the organisation team.

We gave these supporting people a 1 hour head start on the re-opening of registrations in order to reach some balance between our desire to priorise them and our will to open registration more largely. Once the limite of 230 had been reached, we closed registrations.

We made full use of the capacity of the place to receive as many people as possible, as it’s important for us to still have a minimal comfort level and to respect our contract with the place.

We are really sorry that some people were not able to register. We hope it will motivate people to find larger places that can host more people! For now we don’t have any other option!

We also thought that organising an event for 230 people is quite a lot of work. So we decided to believe in self-management. We want to emphasize the importance of collective responsibility, because often time in that kind of event we see organisers being really stressed to make sure that everything goes well, everybody happy, nobody alone, that people who want/need it can sleep (it’s often organisers who take the difficult task to ask for the music to be less loud...), that we don’t have problems with the place we’re renting, ...

So we think it’s important to break the dynamic "we are the organisers", it’s really everybody’s responsability to share the mental load, to be aware of the needs of the community and the group, to keep in mind that it’s important to preserve a good relationship with the place that allows us to be together, etc. In a feminist perspective, we try to make it so that everybody gets involved while respecting their limits and abilities as well as other people’s limits.

We’re going to ask for help. We’re going to try to prepare tools so that as many people as possible can get involved in many tasks, from organising parties to trash cans and toilets, participating in welcoming others, cooking, proposing workshops, do live translation, etc etc. We even had a 6th organisation week-end in July (yep!) in order to improve all this and have the discussions we couldn’t have at the previous week-end because of the registration crisis.

But in order for it to work for everybody, the UEEH, the participants, the commissioners (organisers), we need to make the logistics teams larger! So if you want to get involved and want to let us know, or if you have questions, remarks or love letters to send us, you can write to contact@ueeh.net.

See you soon!

The 2017 organisation crew.



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