SpaceUp: The Space Unconference
Have you ever been at a conference, having the best conversation with interesting people in the hallway, when you realize you’d rather stay there than go back to watching the scheduled speaker? What if there was a conference that was just the hallway? No pre-determined agenda, just amazing people who love space, talking about whatever’s most interesting to them at that moment?
SpaceUp brings together people who are excited about space, and gives them a weekend and an “unconference” format to meet each other and talk about whatever space topics they want.
The results are amazing. Space people are awesome: they’re engineers, scientists, educators, students, and fans. Some build rockets for a living, others work with data coming back from Mars. Some make science-fiction films, and some cosplay characters. Some build satellites, and others back them on Kickstarter. At SpaceUp, they’re all in the same room, talking about Thorium reactors and moon settlements and LEGO spaceships, and you’d be surprised which ones are talking about which!
The results reach beyond SpaceUp, too. Film projects start. Students find internships and become spaceship builders. Participants even find love and get married.
We already know the events work. The first SpaceUp was in 2010, and since then people have started them all around the world, each one run by local organizers with local participants. They’ve been everywhere from ESA Headquarters to a local library. After each SpaceUp, participants usually ask, “How can I get more of this?”
How to get more SpaceUps
Each SpaceUp is local, which means that the amazing people you met all live nearby. The organizers are local, too; there’s no SpaceUp Committee that descends and puts the thing on. A handful of people could put on a SpaceUp in a few weeks.
There are a few things any SpaceUp needs that are tough for a small team, though:
Non-profit status, which opens up free or low-cost venues that only serve non-profits. We created The SpaceUp Foundation to serve as a non-profit partner for any SpaceUp. After two years and tons of paperwork, it’s a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization and ready to go.
Starter funds for the venue deposit and other costs that come up before the first ticket can be sold. $1,000 is enough to cover a venue deposit, so for 5 of them (plus the Kickstarter fees) we’re raising a minimum of $5,555.
Awesome space people. Hello! You’re one of them! When you back this project and vote for a SpaceUp near you, we’ll make sure you get all the details about that SpaceUp, and the organizers know you’re out there.
If everyone that follows us on social media backed this project, even for only $1, we’d blow past those goals and be on our way to 5 new awesome SpaceUps!
Rewards: Votes, Videos, and Registration
So what do you get for backing this project?
Choose where these 5 SpaceUps will be. Even at the one dollar level, you get a vote. This is your chance to bring SpaceUp to you! If your city isn’t on the list, sign up to organize and it will be.
Get early access to each SpaceUp, from notifications all the way up to guaranteed registration to the SpaceUp of your choice. Protip: the $25 level is a lot less than the usual ticket price. (Act fast, though, because those registrations are limited.)
Get hearty and humorous thanks, delivered via sci-five videos. Every backer gets exclusive access to video reports from the SpaceUps, plus at the $25 level you get a personal sci-five from Chris Radcliff of the SpaceUp Foundation, and at higher levels we’ve lined up a few extra-special guests.
Wait, we have a $625 level? 5 x 5 x 5 x 5? Really? At that level, you get EVERYTHING. A fistful of votes. Sci-fives from everyone. Registration at all five SpaceUps. Plus, because you’re obviously a discerning and extraordinary participant, you get to name one of the pods (session rooms) at your favorite SpaceUp.
Oh, but there’s more! What’s all this about SFs and multi-passes? Read on…
We have three stretch goals past the basic funding level, and each one opens up new rewards for you:
$10,555 – Swag Factor One (SF1): Stickers!
If we meet this goal, each SpaceUp gets $1,500 in starting funds. Hurray! That’s likely to cover both a venue deposit and some coffee and food for attendees. If we reach this goal, we’ll also design a patch-style logo for each SpaceUp and make stickers for participants. SF1-eligible backers get one of the stickers as an extra reward. SF1 multi-pass backers get stickers from all five!
$20,555 – Swag Factor Two (SF2): Patches!
If we meet this goal, each SpaceUp gets $2,000 in starting funds. That much up front should secure both venue and catering deposits. If we reach this goal, we’ll make actual patches of each SpaceUp patch-style logo for participants. SF2-eligible backers get one, SF2 multi-pass backers get all five!
$30,555 – Swag Factor Three (SF3): T-shirts!
If we meet this goal, each SpaceUp gets $2,500 in starting funds. Now we’re talking! That much up front can secure both venue and catering, and maybe a network upgrade to allow webcasting. If we reach this goal, we’ll design t-shirts for each SpaceUp and make them for participants. SF3-eligible backers get one, and the SF3 multi-pass backer gets them all. The lucky duck.
How Voting Works
Voting will take place in June, shortly after the Kickstarter ends. We’ll contact you through Kickstarter to get your choice(s).
Until then, post a comment with your preferred city. We’ll keep track and update this leaderboard. Current (unofficial) standings are:
San Diego, 21%
San Francisco, 15%
Los Angeles, 10%
We’re already recruiting organizers in cities around the United States. If you know someone who’d like to organize a SpaceUp near you with Foundation backing, point them to our contact form for organizers and we’ll add your city to the list!
Where the Money Goes
If the project funds at the minimum level, all of it (after Kickstarter fees) will go directly to the SpaceUp project teams as startup funds: $1,000 per team. (A SpaceUp can cost ten times that in total, but we can help them raise that as they go.)
If we reach all our stretch goals, each SpaceUp will get $2,500 in startup funds, enough to cover venue and catering deposits. The remainder will be used to fulfill physical rewards (stickers, patches, and t-shirts; see below) and pay for additional accounting, tax preparation, and administrative support required to spend this much and maintain non-profit status. (In other words: more awesome, fewer audits.)
The actual mix will likely be somewhere between these two.
Once this Kickstarter project funds in June, we go into high gear. Votes will be tallied and SpaceUp organizing teams will be chosen in June, and the chosen teams will get access to their startup funds in July. All 5 SpaceUps will be held between July and December 2015, and rewards will be sent out during that same time period. Virtual rewards (videos and registration codes) will go out sooner, and physical rewards (stickers, patches, shirts) will go out later.
Who’s Behind This
The SpaceUp Foundation is a small group of space enthusiasts, and we’re going to keep it small. Our board and staff are all SpaceUp organizers:
Chris Radcliff, CEO (@chris_radcliff) is an author, technology speaker, software engineer, and long-time unconference participant. Chris founded SpaceUp in San Diego and will happily dance like a monkey to spread space unconferences around the world.
Jesse Clark, COO (@jessesclark) is a systems administrator, pilot, and space advocate. He founded the San Diego Space Society, directed the Young Eagles program for the San Diego chapter of EAA, and organized the very first SpaceUp.
Cariann Higginbotham (@cariann) is a frequent SpaceUp participant, co-host of the TMRO weekly webcast, and barista at SpaceX. Cariann will happily make Chris dance like a monkey to spread space unconferences around the world.
Cindy (@txflygirl) is a Systems Engineering & Integration Engineer with International Space Station, Constellation, and Commercial Crew experience. She holds an MBA and is an educational/participatory outreach advocate. She founded SpaceUp Houston and served as the Executive Director from 2010-2013.
Marimikel Charrier (@marimikel) is a professional space and science evangelist. Marimikel organized the first SpaceUp San Francisco and co-founded the SpaceUp Foundation.
Remco Timmermans (@timmermansr and @SpaceUpEU) is part of the team that brought SpaceUp to Europe. He serves as an advisor to local organizing teams and is an active advocate for SpaceUp outside North America in general.
“Never believe that a few caring people can’t change the world. For, indeed, that’s all who ever have.” – Margaret Mead
Risks and challenges
Each event relies on a team of people (aside from the staff and directors of the Foundation) to find a venue, negotiate a date, and wrangle food at the very least. This can be life-consuming while it happens, so not all teams who start planning a SpaceUp get to finish one.
The dates and venues for the five SpaceUps won’t be set until after the project is funded. While seven months is usually plenty of time to secure a venue, especially with deposit money in hand, our organizing teams may not be able to secure a date by December 2015.
In cases like these, alternate venues, dates, organizing teams, or cities may be chosen to make sure five SpaceUps happen somewhere in the United States, as soon as possible, with backer choices given top priority.
In other words: we’re in this to make SpaceUps, and we’re listening to you first.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (19 days)