Citizen Journalism


5 stars of open local democracy?

Posted on 19th June 2014 by

5 star

There’s a conversation going on in South Birmingham – led by Karen Cheney and Austin Rodriguez and others – about how to get more public democratic processes shared more widely.  This builds on various work (including a Cllr in Billesley buying some kit to live stream for the first time their ward ctte meeting).    At a meeting yesterday we talked a bit about equipment and platforms, but also that not all meetings need to be live streamed etc.  So, I wondered, could establish stages of activity for digital open local democracy?  I said I write up my thoughts as a blog post….

What are the principles?

In the mould of Tim Berners-Lee, I’m adapting his 5 stars of open dataI’m know I won’t be the first person to think through these stages, – I’ve searched but not found the 5 stars thing for very local public meetings. If you find it then please share.  Update: this is where I’ve seen something similar before: http://www.comms2point0.co.uk/comms2point0/2014/6/3/proposals-to-improve-health-and-wellbeing-board-social-media.html/

This is a summation of some of our experience social reporting over the years and the following list applies to local processes, currently things like police priority setting meetings,  patient forums for GP and CCG’s, council ward committee’s, housing association walkabouts, neighbourhood forum meetings or neighbourhood watch groups.  This is the myriad of daily democracy that we have created over time.

5 stars of  open (hyper)local democracy

 

1 star:  Be seen and be welcoming.  Putting agenda’s and minutes somewhere where it is very easy to find them and where it is easy for others to share them. Make sure everyone knows they’re invited.  (This could be a blog, just on google docs with a link or creating an eventbrite to invite people to meetings. It can include putting invites through doors and agenda’s and minutes on public noticeboards.)

2 star: Talk about what you’re doing.  This means that you have a #hashtag for your meeting and publicise it and also share what you know (make sure that background information to papers is publicly available). You are open to others live reporting or recording what you are doing.

3 star: Do it live.  You do the above but you also do it during your meeting or event.  This is where you can introduce a livestream of video or audio or live social reporting through twitter, facebook and or a blog. This also means you only hold meetings in places where there is good, publicly usable wi-fi or 3g.

4 star:  Involve people outside the room in the meeting.  This is a step change from being seen to be doing. This values the questions and comments made on the web as being as important to your meeting as the ones made in the room.  They are incorporated though hashtags or services like cover it live, blyve or a facebook q&a as the event unfolds.  This could also mean organising events specifically for talking to people on the web.

5 star:  It’s a permanent conversation. This fifth step recognises that the civic conversation you’re having doesn’t just happen at times and places you decide.  It can happen all the time. It means being responsive in between meetings when, for example a comment appears on a website or a hashtag.

 

There are other stages I could have added – using open data for example, but I’m trying to envisage stages by which we can help us develop from the familiar “meeting with 1 man and a dog in a draught village hall”.  So perhaps the 5 stars of “more” open local democracy.

Behind all this is another core principle:

Keep it simple:

  • Collaborate.  Don’t do this in silos, have things that involve many services, voluntary or statutory.
  • Use available tools.  make things happen with the mobile phones around you, using livestreaming through google hangout or similar, rather than needing to build a thing.  (there are very fine services used for some formal democratic processes, but they’re not essential here)
  • Use available kit – what can you achieve with a smart phone or two?  How much do you really need to buy, is video right for your sort of event?
  • Go to where people are  If the busiest place to find people is on facebook can you use that for your online conversations.  Sharing live events online through hyperlocal blogs is another example

If you can’t make it work without these then clearly start looking for other ways of doing but start with keep it simple, not with “we need to build a portal for that” .

Thanks also to our very own Steph Clarke for helping me think through this – she’s oodles of experience of encouraging public services to get involved with people online both at work and her volunteer efforts at www.wv11.co.uk

 

 

 

What – if anything – will replace the old politics in a digital city?

Posted on 20th August 2013 by

If you’re interested in this topic there a good read at the Community Architect blog from Baltimore. Read here.

Can tactical urbanism, Internet journalism, direct action, “open data“, crowd-funding and social networking replace the comfortable business-as-usual model  in which the various casts of the power elite scratch each others back within an established system of power-play and paybacks? Can these various types of free form action provide a solution that is at once local and complex and accessible and less corrupted?

Hat tip Tessy Britton.

How advantaged thinking helped Fiona help herself to help her organsiation help itself.

Posted on 11th July 2013 by

We get to work with some brilliant organisations.  Foyer Federation has been developing approaches around what it calls Advantaged Thinking and talent -  intended to allow foyers and the young people they work with to use an emphasis on finding positive ways to view the world and focus on talent (rather than deficits) to improve how young people work with foyers to further their lives.

Today I bumped into Fiona McCance who describes herself on her blog:

My name is Fiona and I am 21. I have been living at the Northampton scheme run by Mayday Trust since 4th February 2013. When I arrived at Mayday I was very concerned about having to build a relationship with someone new and was very reluctant to communicate with the staff but after meeting my then Key worker I was challenged with the patience of a saint. After a while the barriers I had set up slowly disappeared and I was able to communicate what help I needed and what ambitions I had in life. Well, that’s where the fun started and my life changed completely

Fiona came across some of the Foyer’s work and was so inspired by this positive approach that she encouraged the people who run here Foyer to get more involved with the advantaged thinking as a way of working.  It has changed all sorts – seeing the first Learning Abilities Foyer established by the Mayday Trust and also changed Fiona’s life – as she tells you in  the video above.