Conference Organising Manual
updated 1 Febraury 2011
World Carfree Network's Steering Committee
The Towards Carfree Cities conference series aims to bring together people from around the world who are promoting practical alternatives to car dependence - walking, cycling and public transport, and ultimately the transformation of cities, towns and villages into human-scaled environments rich in public space and community life. The focus is on strategy, collaboration and exchange, assisting the practical work of conference participants - whether it be organising carfree days, promoting urban cycling, or building the carfree cities of the future.
Aside from the general sharing of ideas, information and experience, it is conceivable that specific conferences might have more specific goals. As of TCC IV, the Annual General Meeting (AGM) of World Carfree Network is normally held at the end of the TCC conference.
The target audience is broad, including activists, campaigners, planners, local officials, researchers, students, scholars and others - anyone interested in advancing the above agenda. It might make sense to have specific days catered to specific audiences, so that two days have a more 'official' feel for the professionals unable to attend a five-day conference.
To date there have been nine Towards Carfree Cities conferences:
Towards Carfree Cities I: Lyon, France; October 1997; organised by EYFA (European Youth for Action) and RVV (Regroupement pour une ville sans voiture, or Group for a Carfree City, Lyon).
Towards Carfree Cities II: Timisoara, Romania; April 2000; organised by Car Busters and Young Romanian Nature Friends.
Towards Carfree Cities III: Prague, Czech Republic; April 2003; organised by Car Busters.
Towards Carfree Cities IV: Berlin, Germany; July 2004; organised by World Carfree Network in partnership with Autofrei Wohnen, Autofrei Leben!, BUND (Friends of the Earth Germany), ITDP Europe, and other German organisations.
Towards Carfree Cities V: Budapest, Hungary; July 2005; organised by World Carfree Network and Clean Air Action Group, in partnership with Hungarian Traffic Club and Hungarian Young Greens.
Towards Carfree Cities VI: Bogota, Colombia; September 2006; organised by World Carfree Network and Fundaciσn Ciudad Humana.
Towards Carfree Cities VII: Istanbul, Turkey; August 2007; organised mainly by the Turkish Traffic Safety Association.
Towards Carfree Cities VIII: Portland, Oregon, USA; June 2008; organised mainly by Shift.
Towards Carfree Cities IX: York, England; June 2010; organised mainly by local members of Carfree UK.
The first conference led to the founding of Carbusters magazine, and the third led to the transformation of Carbusters into World Carfree Network.
The first two conferences were activist-oriented and largely attended by young people (with 60-80 total participants each year). The third conference was more diverse, and had 60 participants for the regular programme and 300 participants for the public day (which featured speakers such as John Whitelegg, Oscar Edmundo Diaz and J.H. Crawford). The fourth conference, in Berlin, brought the conference series to a new level, with 180 participants throughout the week, a much greater diversity, and a wider age range (averaging perhaps age 35, but with many older people). This may be attributed to the widespread publicity, the publication of an impressive programme on-line and well in advance, the efforts and respectability of the partner organisations, and the fact that the event was organised in the name of World Carfree Network rather than Carbusters. One thing that makes the conference series unique is that it brings together a wide range of people (from activists to academics) in an informal environment, for a long enough time period that they can really learn from and influence one another.
The consensus at Towards Carfree Cities III in Prague was that the conference should be held annually. The consensus on World Carfree Network's listserve (carfree_network) was that the conference should rotate annually between Europe and another continent, which are the network's two main bases of support (while it is conceivable that in the longer-term future, the conference might be held on another continent).
Towards Carfree Cities X will be held in 2011 in Guadalajara, Mexico.
Hosting the Conference
The procedure for applying to host the conference is simple. We request that a 2-4 page Towards Carfree Cities hosting proposal be sent to the carfree_network listserv * by a specific date - 3 April this year - containing:
a. who you are; what organisation(s) are you with
b. what resources, skills and time are being offered (fundraising, programme work, outreach, office space, etc.)
c. what groups would be partners; what other useful contacts you have
d. why the conference should be held in your city
e. what you would like to occur at the conference (overall concept and any programme details)
World Carfree Network's steering committee then discusses the proposals, does any necessary research, and makes a final selection within two months of the submission deadline.
* The carfree_network listserv is the primary on-line forum of World Carfree Network. Its purpose is to serve as an international forum for discussing and developing network projects. You can subscribe to the listserv with an e-mail to email@example.com. Then, messages can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Role of Host Organisation(s)
The role of the host organisation(s) is not fixed year to year. In some years the conference was organised by World Carfree Network Europe's office (or its predecessors) directly. With Towards Carfree Cities IV in Berlin, the conference was organised principally by the Prague office and two Berlin-based staff hired by the ICC. One of the Berlin-based staff was the person who proposed Berlin in the first place, as a member of two local carfree organisations. Ideally the host organisation(s) would be responsible for a large part of the conference organising effort, but making major decisions via consensus with the network's conference coordinator. In practice, the precise roles of each group must simply be agreed upon in advance according to each group's available resources. The roles are formalised in each conference's specific Conference Hosting Agreement.
Role of World Carfree Network's Steering Committee
Although we no longer have an office and employed staff, The WCN Steering Committee can provide:
- general information, advice and assistance as needed
- updates and distribution of this organising manual
- conference organising files and forms used to organise previous conferences
- international outreach and promotion
- an equal part in decision making
- help to coordinate or provide national outreach resources
- assistance in developing the programme
- website hosting (web maintenance can be done by host organisation(s) via FTP, with technical assistance provided)
- fundraising assistance as needed, according to means (applications must still be submitted under the name of the host organisation(s))
- assistance with finding conference volunteers
- organisation of the AGM (if it takes place immediately before or after the conference) and related follow-up
There are no set dates for placement of the conference within the calendar year. Warm weather can be an advantage for outdoor activities and general mood. Some people who work or attend school can only come to the conference in the summer. Summer also offers the possibility of inexpensive school or university facilities. On the other hand, if the conference is during the school year - with the exception of exam periods - it can be incorporated into school activities from the primary to the university level. For those who must travel by air, however, it is more expensive to travel in the summer, especially between continents. There is also more competition with other events, not to mention travel, in the summer.
The conference programme is usually quite diverse, with a mix of presentations, workshops, group discussions/debates, on-site visits, social events, film and video screenings, excursions, hands-on 'skill sharing,' and political action/direct action. The programmes of previous conferences are available on-line as models. In Berlin, the two main programme criticisms were the lack of political actions and the lack of true workshops (the events called workshops ended up mostly as a series of presentations followed by questions from the audience). There needed to be more time for participants to work together and develop ideas and projects. Many participants also favoured having two rather then three simultaneous workshops/presentations. On the other hand, a smaller number of attendees makes for a more intimate and more inclusive session.
Participants at most of the conferences would have preferred a more balanced amount of time allocated to each type of activity. An ideal might be: 20% presentations (one full day or two half days), 20% workshops, discussions and debates (one full day or two half days), 20% project planning meetings (one full day, including some free time), 20% on-site visits, actions and outdoor activities (two half days), and 20% for World Carfree Network's Annual General Meeting (one full day, with free time for those not attending).
The conference has been held over four days, but there is no rule on minimum or maximum length, with optional additional activities on the previous or following weekend. For future conferences it needs to be made clearer how the AGM (if held) relates to the conference and whether all conference participants are invited to it.
The registration fees have varied from year to year. The first two TCC conferences were funded as 'youth seminars' by the European Commission and the Council of Europe. Participants paid a small daily fee, but also often received (usually 70%) travel reimbursement.
Towards Carfree Cities III in Prague introduced registration fees of 50 (student/nonprofit) and 100 (full rate) for a full week including three meals a day, tea/coffee and hostel accommodation. This was possible in part because the conference was held in the Czech Republic, where costs can be cheaper than in the West.
Towards Carfree Cities IV in Berlin had early registration fees (February 15-April 15, 2004) of 100 (students/nonprofit) and 170 (full rate), and thereafter 150 (students/nonprofit) and 250 (full rate). Offering an early registration discount seems proven as an excellent way of bringing in income in the crucial pre-conference months. The rates included two meals a day (lunch and dinner), tea/coffee and free basic accommodation for those who wanted it. The rates are always a topic of discussion, as activists and Easterners sometimes find them expensive, while those who are accustomed to professional Western conferences (which can cost 400-800 even without meals or accommodation) find them surprisingly affordable. So the Towards Carfree Cities IV rates were a compromise, and organisers were still paid very little compared to standard conference protocol. But it is also necessary to waive the registration fees for those who cannot otherwise afford to attend; it may be possible to fundraise for these fee waivers.
Once you have determined your registration fees, you can estimate registration income with an average per person income multiplied by the number of expected participants. Based on the development of the conference, a reasonable estimate of participant numbers might be 150, perhaps higher in North America. This could be multiplied by 150 (average income per person), equalling 22,500 in registration income. A reasonable goal might be 30,000 in registration income, with grant income doubling that amount. That makes a total budget of 60,000. In addition, so-called 'in-kind donations' (volunteers, donated equipment and facilities, home-stay accommodation, etc.) might be worth 10,000, which can usually be declared to funders, despite no money changing hands.
In terms of expenses...
Staffing might be your greatest cost, with at least 1,000 per month per coordinator as your full-time wage rate (but this depends on the location). With two coordinators for 12 months each, that leads to 24,000 in staffing expenses. But in your fundraising effort, you will probably want to seek a higher wage level. For the month before the conference, as well as for during the conference itself, it might be necessary to hire additional staff. In the past we have largely relied on volunteers. The volunteers are either from the local host or partner organisations, from the World Carfree Network's Steering Committee ICC, or in some cases they can be conference participants whose registration fees have been waived in exchange for such assistance.
Conference facilities might be obtained for free, as we did at Humboldt University in Berlin by working through a supportive student union. Free or inexpensive facilities are a real asset in dealing with a limited budget. Schools and universities are perhaps the most promising places to approach. Be careful what you are not paying for, however: Several of the rooms at Humboldt were below the standard of others (bad acoustics, no electricity, no handicapped access). Supportive local governments have also provided free conference facilities as well as conference support funds for similar conferences that reflect their stated interests.
Food and drinks are another major expense. It is necessary to find affordable catering or to use a university cafeteria. In Berlin our costs were 3 per person per lunch, 5 per person per dinner, and then we budgeted 2 per person per day for tea/coffee, etc. This works out to 10 per person per day - or 50 per person for a five-day conference. Therefore, in cases of special arrangements made with low-income participants, we normally asked them for 50 to cover food and drinks. With 150 participants each attending five days, that makes 7,500. This amount can be lowered considerably (even halved) by finding out in advance which meals each participant will actually be there for. In addition, it may be possible to offer lunch but not include dinner in the conference registration fees. This also depends on the location, especially the availability, convenience and price of dinners in restaurants. Yet dinner away from the conference venue can provide a refreshing change of scenery.
Speakers' expenses: While many speakers will be registered and paid conference participants, in some cases it is necessary to attract a few big names by offering travel reimbursement and (usually one night of) hotel accommodation. We have never offered speakers a fee in addition to this. In other cases a speaker might need travel reimbursement but would happily accept a home stay rather than hotel accommodation. It is necessary to use your judgment based on your knowledge of the individual. In yet other cases, a locally based speaker might simply be invited for free to the conference (including meals) on the day of his or her presentation (and allowed to come for free or at a discount on additional days). Your total budget for speakers' expenses might be in the range of 1,000 to 2,000. This can usually be covered by grants.
Simultaneous translation, if used strategically, can do much to increase inclusivity of the conference specifically and the network in general. It may be necessary on a single 'public day' of the conference, featuring your main speakers. If English is the only main local language of the host country, you will want to avoid this costly expense, which can cost 3,500 for a single day (700 per translator x 2 translators, plus 2,100 in equipment and technical costs). If your room is set up with a translator's box and headphone plug-ins, the costs may go down considerably. If you do pay for simultaneous translation, you must be sure that the local interest is significant enough to warrant the expense. In Berlin we had virtually no participation in the public day beyond the registered conference participants (who all spoke English to varying degrees). In Prague we had approximately 250 (mostly Czech-speaking) public day participants beyond the registered conference participants, so in the latter case the expense was well worth it.
Planning meetings include travel expenses (where significant) for all (non-local) participants, as well as food costs. Free facilities are not a problem to find for meetings of this size. Such a meeting might be held over one or two days and involve a dozen people, some of whom are non-local (usually coming from the ICC in Prague). In the case of a conference outside Europe, the number of ICC participants would be minimised, or substituted with conference calls. You will need three or four planning meetings, and you should invite any committed or potential partner organisations.
Other expenses include lots of (comparatively) little things that can add up. For example: postage, printing, telephone/fax, Internet, web hosting, etc. Many such categories can be kept under 200, while more can of course be very useful. When fundraising, host organisations should also claim a percentage of their organisational overheads, such as rent and equipment, as conference expenses. A full sample budget will be included in the final version of this organising manual.
Conference organising has usually operated on an 18-month schedule, which is necessary because of the need for early fundraising. Listed below are some of the major tasks that need to be done at specific times. However, it is easiest to be more thorough in the subsequent section, 'Organising Roles.' The timeline is probably the section of this organising manual that will undergo the most revision in later versions.
Months 1-6: Hold an initial conference organising meeting. Assemble local partner organisations and facilitate their involvement. Determine rough conference dates and explore possibilities for conference facilities, as well as dining and accommodation facilities. Determine specific roles of each conference organiser (see 'Organising Roles' below). Select two conference coordinators who will work full-time from at least seven months before the conference until one month after the conference. Focus on fundraising.
Month 7: Determine precise conference dates and confirm conference facilities, as well as dining/catering and accommodation facilities including costs for each. Write up an initial budget. Set draft conference registration fees accordingly. Contact potential keynote speakers and arrange other programme highlights to include in outreach publicity. Begin fundraising!
Month 8: Confirm keynote speakers and other programme highlights. Upload a conference website, which at this point can be a single page of basic information (dates, location, theme, highlights, goals, organisers, contact info). Send out a 'call for papers/presentations/workshops' to help fill in the programme. Begin contacting other individuals who you would like to include in the programme. Continue fundraising!
Months 9 and 10: Upload a draft conference programme to the website, and update it regularly as new offers come in (so that anyone involved with the conference can easily check the programme status). Upload a page of accommodation info. Hold a second conference organising meeting. Continue fundraising!
Month 11: Upload a registration form (can be modified from TCC IV form). Open the early registration period, offering a discount. You will need to have on-line credit card payment available, as well as bank transfer and possibly (depending on the country) cheque payment options. (After a three-month early registration period ends, a three-month normal registration period begins.) Continue developing the programme. Continue fundraising!
Month 12 and 13: Focus on outreach to find participants, enlisting the help of individuals who can take on outreach in specific countries. Bring the programme to a near-complete state. Continue fundraising!
Month 14 and 15: Hold a third conference organising meeting. Continue outreach to find participants. Finalise programme content and scheduling. Make sure workshops are fully developed conceptually and have competent workshop leaders. Continue fundraising!
Month 16 (month before conference): Print all posters for local outreach as well as the conference programmes provided at check-in. Reconfirm sources for all necessary equipment (laser projectors, etc.). Determine means of communication between organisers (CBs?) for use during the conference. Prepare and distribute press release (two weeks before conference, for daily newspapers, radio and television; allow more time for weeklies, monthlies and quarterlies).
Month 17 (month of conference): Meet with all organisers to determine each person's precise role(s) during the conference. Set up Internet facilities at conference location. Print out and prepare name tags for conference participants. Write up all receipts and prepare any (funders') forms requiring participants' signatures. Prepare signage and decorations for conference facilities. Prepare a means of displaying any conference exhibitions. Collect and test all equipment (LCD projectors, laptops, video, etc.).
During conference: (See 'Organising Roles')
Month 18 (month after conference): Send participants' list to all participants. Send thank you cards to all speakers and volunteers. Send evaluation form to all participants, including speakers. Send short wrap-up report to relevant listservs as well as the WCN e-bulletin. Send out the AGM minutes and upload them to Worldcarfree.net. Pay any remaining bills and complete the financial accounting. Put together and publish the meeting proceedings in print and web forms. Complete and send final reports to funders. Ensure that all decentralised follow-up tasks are delegated and timelined.
Organising Roles (some require less than one person, some may take one, and some may take several)
Catering: Find and confirm catering service. Before and during conference, communicate to catering staff the conference's needs in terms of meal times and participant numbers per meal. During the conference, it should be possible to reconfirm every day the exact numbers of participants per meal for the next day. This will save you from having to pay for uneaten meals. Be sure to discuss in detail special dietary requirements, such as diabetic or vegan participants.
Closing party: Responsible for coordinating all arrangements related to the closing party, which is normally open to the public: Find venue. Find bands. Find MC's (one or two people to speak on stage introducing conference, bands, etc.). Coordinate beverage/snack provision and sales. Arrange decorations. Coordinate event outreach - via posters, flyers, event listings, radio, print media, etc. Keep in mind different interests of participants, both in what they view as entertainment and also an appropriate place to socialise.
Documentation: Reponsible for ensuring that notes are collected from each presentation or workshop and that these are compiled into a conference report. Responsible for any audio/video documentation or webcasting.
Facilities: Responsible for finding and confirming all facilities (meeting, dining and accommodation), according to the 'Conference Facilities' list below. Passes on basic information, directions (including on-line maps), local transport info, and accommodation details to website coordinator. Schedules what events will be held in which rooms.
Facilitation: Responsible for finding facilitators or moderators for the morning meetings, the public day, any organised debates, plenary sessions, the World Carfree Network AGM, and the post-conference evaluation. (Workshop leaders facilitate their own workshops.)
Financial: Responsible for budgeting and processing income and expenses and keeping all receipts. Must be one person only. In fundraising applications, this is the person listed as responsible for the project. During the conference, this person manages the financial part of the registration table (additional people can provide the other information): Establish limited open hours for this, such as during meals, to accept registration fees, give out travel reimbursement, collect travel tickets and return them after photocopying, pay presenters their fees, ensure that participants fill out and sign forms for funders, provide/get receipts for all money in/out, etc. - always updating the Excel file so that we know exactly how much income has been received and from whom. Each day of the conference, deposit income into local bank account.
Fundraising: Responsible for researching, applying for and managing grants, as well as initiating any other fundraising efforts.
Graphic design: Responsible for the layout and printing of conference leaflets, posters, flyers, printed programmes, etc.
Outreach: Responsible for publicising the conference, via newsletters, organisations, listserves, websites, etc. Responsible for finding volunteer outreach coordinators for specific countries. The primary goal is to encourage people to register as conference participants.
Participants/pre-registration/post-conference: Responsible for communication with potential and registered participants, making sure they have all the information they need. Responsible for printing name badges. Responsible for maintaining an Excel file in which each registered participant is listed with name, organisation, address, e-mail, amount paid, meals requested, etc. Also responsible for legal release forms from participants, and information about any medical conditions and emergency contacts they wish to disclose. Post-conference duties include thank you cards, evaluation mailing and processing, and any other unfinished business.
Press: Responsible for press releases, the press conference, collecting press contacts, and all media relations. At the conference there should be a dedicated press table.
Programme: Responsible for planning and finalising the conference programme. Best as a committee of two people. Communicates with speakers. Passes on programme details to website coordinator, or ideally, learns how to upload it independently. During conference, communicates with speakers to give guidelines to ensure that they stay within the alloted time and that they speak slowly and clearly for non-native English speakers. Every session needs a facilitator of some sort.
Supplies: Obtaining, organising, transporting, distributing and storing all office supplies for use during the conference. Ensure all needed supplies are available and easily accessible; create area for supplies that will be needed during workshops; devise method for keeping track of them.
Tea/coffee/social space: Responsible for running the teahouse and obtaining all necessary provisions. This role may be filled by volunteers or by an outside organisation. It is highly recommended that snacks such as fruit be provided to keep participants content and able to focus on the conference.
Communications: It is essential that the conference have at least one mobile phone for use at all times during the conference. It is even better if all conference staff and volunteers are given each other's mobile phone numbers. Some conferences have benefitted from the use of walkie-talkies (CBs) when the conference venues are spread out.
Technical/equipment: Responsible for obtaining all necessary technical equipment (walkie-talkies, laser pointers, laptops, LCD projectors, etc.), receiving Powerpoint and other files from speakers, storing and giving access to technical equipment as needed, and making sure everything works properly prior to every conference event. Best as a committee of three people. A technical person is needed at every event where laptops/projectors are to be used. They should have keys and access to all necessary places and technology, including heating and air-conditioning, the abilitiy to open special window locks, etc.
Transport: Responsible for moving all materials and equipment to/from conference location before/after conference. Responsible for transporting tea/coffee supplies, beer, snacks, etc. to social space and closing party as needed. Any other transport as needed. Could be a positive demonstration of specially designed work bikes, bike trailers, etc. Should secure the use of a large handtruck, wheeled dolly, etc.
Travel visas: Responsible for arranging visas for all conference participants who need them. Any costs incurred may be passed on to the participant. Participants must register (pay the conference fee) before any visa arrangements are made. This is a way to ensure that the person will actually attend. It is a good idea to set a cut-off date for arranging visas, being perhaps two months before the conference begins. This provides the necessary time for visa arrangements and also frees up some time in the pre-conference crunch period. The visa requirements depend on the conference host country as well as the participant's own country. Some countries just need a faxed or e-mailed inivitation letter, stating that Participant X has been invited to the conference and has paid the registration fee. Other countries require application fees and a legal assurance that your organisation will be responsible for the participant during his/her stay in your country. The visa situation in the USA and neighbouring countries is more rigourous than it once was (organisers should obtain list of countries considered to be a threat to its security) and therefore ideally some kind of national official (such as a US representative who is elected locally) should be approached early to support the conference and use their influence to help with visas.
Video night: Responsible for collecting video submissions, previewing and selecting from among them, making sure they are in usable formats, and working with the technical/equipment committee to project them at the conference.
Website: Responsible for uploading all relevant conference information supplied by the other coordinators.
It is important to consider whether the conference site is open to the public or not. This might be determined by what facilities are available and affordable. In Prague the non-public day events were in a dedicated, if not necessarily secure, facility, whereas in Berlin events took place in a normally operating university. A dedicated facility is ideal, as it makes it harder for non-paying people to attend events, and if there is security personnel and a secured "participant only areas" then people and their belongings will be safer.
The following types of facilities are needed. Organisers should keep in mind that the various facilities should be handicapped accessible, tested for acoustics and sight-lines (e.g., pillars are a problem) and located as closely together as possible, for the benefit of both attendees and staff.
The figures used in the following are based on expected growth in attendance of the conference (based on TCC Berlin).
Assembly room 1: Large room with stage for 'public day' and any similar events. Capacity: 300+ (exact capacity needs are dependent on expected attendance). Built-in sound system. Ability to darken room during day. Screen for projection. Ideally, equipped for simultaneous translation via built-in system and translation box; otherwise simultaneous translation (if you'll be using it) will be more expensive. Since this room will probably only be used on one day, it is not necessary that it be located near the other facilities. At TCC III in Prague, for example, we hired out a cinema.
Assembly room 2: Smaller assembly room for events where all conference participants are attending at once (morning meetings, video night, etc.). Capacity: 200 (exact capacity needs are dependent on expected attendance). Built-in sound system. Ability to darken room during day. Screen for projection.
Workshop/presentation rooms: Two or three classrooms. To avoid confusion, it should be the same rooms available all week. Rooms can be various sizes to suit specific events. If there are 200 registered participants, keep in mind that with two simultaneous events, each classroom would need to have a capacity of over 100 people. (Attendance may be disproportional.) Fixed seats are a problem for workshops, but not for presentations; organisers need to schedule rooms accordingly.
AGM room: The one-day Annual General Meeting of World Carfree Network requires a large room (capacity: 50) with movable chairs, good acoustics and no obstructions to sight (everyone should be able to see each other. Chairs should be arranged in a circle, or two concentric circles, to promote a non-hierarchical atmosphere.
Social space/tea room: An important feature of the conference series is its emphasis on social interaction. Participants need a space where they can meet each other in an informal environment. The space should be centrally located within the conference facilities. It must be smoke-free. Ideally it would be open from 8 am to midnight, but at least in the evenings. It should offer tea and coffee during the day (free), as well as beer, wine and nonalcoholic drinks (for sale) in the evening. It is a good idea to have snacks available as well, either free or for sale. Because conference participants come from different economic levels, anything for sale should be at 'suggested donation' or 'sliding scale' rates. And keep a first aid kit at hand.
Accommodation: Conference participants need to be informed well in advance about nearby hotel and hostel accommodation available. We list options in each hotel and hostel price category on the conference website, and are usually able to arrange 10% discounts at each of them. Participants then make arrangements with the hotel or hostel directly. It should be made clear how close the hotel or hostel is to the conference venue(s), as that is often a deciding factor when choosing accommodation.
Exhibition space: Conference participants sometimes offer to bring along an exhibition on a theme related to the conference. A space should be set aside for this in a central, well-lit location (if not central, people will forget to go see the exhibitions). Display boards will need to be found well in advance. A standard system for presenters to display format A0 posters should be facilitated, if not encouraged.
Table space: A central area must be set aside for information and registration tables. Three long rectangular tables are needed: two for participants to display any free information and newsletters they have brought, and one for participant registration/check-in. The latter table needs an electrical supply for a laptop computer.
Storage room: A lockable storage room is needed, as close as possible to the table space. This is where office supplies and tabling materials are stored, as well as laptops, laser projectors, flipcharts, etc. We have allowed conference participants to store their own belongings in the storage room at their own risk. The original idea was that the storage room would double as a conference office (during the conference only). In practice, however, it turned out that a conference office wasn't so much needed. (The registration table serves this purpose.) At TCC IV in Berlin we had the unfortunate experience of having a cashbox stolen from the storage room. Therefore it is vital that money is deposited to a bank each day of the conference, and that a secure location is found for the storage of valuables such as laptops and laser projectors. It should be organised in advance who will be responsible for access to the storage room.
Kitchen/dining area: Either one or two meals are provided each day, included in the conference registration fee. Breakfast is usually organised independently by each participant, or provided at their hotel or hostel. For lunch and sometimes for dinner, either an on-site kitchen or cafeteria is available, or a caterer brings the food to an on-site dining area. In Berlin we had a combination of stand-up and sit-down tables, located outdoors. On-site cafeteria facilities were explored, but ended up being beyond our budget. (Via an inexpensive caterer we paid 3 per participant per lunch, and 5 per participant per dinner.) Traditionally, Towards Carfree Cities has included only vegetarian and vegan meals. If participants really want to eat meat, they can arrange it themselves. Bogota was an exception. Ideally, local produce will be used, even if it limits the selection of food. Participants should also be asked about special food needs, allergies, etc.