The last session that I attended at BarCampBankSeattle had the most impact on me. It also had the longest name. User generated content: How far would you go and how can we convince the old guard of the new online reality?
Trey Reeme posted the first half of the topic on the board and I posted the second half. Rather than splitting the group, we realized that a combo session would work great. We were right.
The session was heated with great debate from more than 25 participants. As the discussion hit its stride, it became clear that we were actually attending BarCampCreditUnionSeattle. On one hand, there was universal passion for the credit union movement, yet on the other hand there was a sense that the movement is doomed if it sticks to its current course.
It was ironic that no bank representatives attended and it was also ironic that the bulk of attendees where consultants serving the credit union industry. Actual credit union employee attendance was low and actual credit union leaders attending was only one (Gene Blishen from Mount Lehman Credit Union).
Event organizer Jesse Robbins, in his subtle style, summed it up nicely, "Credit unions are trying so hard to imitate banks. And you know what, credit unions are just coming off as smaller, sh*ty banks."
A comment of Trey's has stuck with me. He asked, "Doesn't it seem like it's just a few of us punk-ass consultants that are trying to change things?"
To me, the social web seems like such a logical extension of the credit union movement—a perfect way to empower the cooperative principles and create community. I asked the question, "If this is such a good fit, why aren't more credit unions embracing this medium? We keep coming back to a couple of good examples over and over again—the Verity Our Voices blog and Vancity's Change Everything social network site. You would think by now we would have more great examples to discuss."
Jim Bruene from the NetBanker blog asked, "Is it really a fit, or our we trying to force a square peg into a round hole?"
Much discussion insued and I don't know if any clear answers emerged. What I do know is that there are many passionate people that will do everything in their power to ensure that the credit union movement is not doomed! That's my ultimate take-away. Like I said in an earlier post, I only attended day one, but what a day it was.
I'm off to the World Credit Union Conference in Calgary, Alberta from Sunday, July 29 to August 2. We are promoting our new Cuckoo campaigns offering. This 2,500 person international event is going to have a tough time stacking up against the 35-person event that was BarCampBankCreditUnionSeattle.