Neighbourhoods


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

 

 

 

Doing is what makes things better…..

Posted on 3rd June 2014 by

I found this set of thoughts on Wicked Problems (jargon for social problems that are right tricky to solve) and Open innovation   via Andrea Siodmok’s post on twitter.

I’m not convinced by everything here but on the third slide  there was one simple idea which experience tells me is very true…

“You only understand the problem once you try solving it.”

I’ve often found that I set off with the serious intent to solve a problem, but in truth succeed in understanding what we could do better next time. I know that’s a statement of the bleedin’ obvious but it sometimes helps to do that.

This is why iterative change is important.  This is why rolling up your sleeves and doing something, then pausing, reflecting and doing some more is so important.  It’s why community lead solutions can often be very effective and planned top down ones often fail.

So thanks Andrea and Sameer Vasta for helping me clarify that in my head.

#futureshift notes – Pam Warhurst, incredible edible.

Posted on 26th April 2014 by

Incredible Edible – if you eat you in (reminds me of the New Optimists Food futures here in Birmingham

RSA_-_The_Big_Idea__the_power_of_small_actions_on_a_community

I missed the beginning so here are some lighter notes.

  • This is not community development – it’s the will to live life differently.
  • We don’t need strategy documents we create propaganda gardens – not guerilla gardens, too aggressive.
  • Do people a favour – don’t ask permission. After we started a garden the council later mowed the lawn and put a bench in.
  • People gradually change the way they work.  Kids would pick cabbages and herbs – they started to sue the gardens first.   They found that people made food from the veg picked from someone’s garden and came back to give them the finished food – a bowl of soup or whatever.
  • Don’t tell us to eat five a day – instead surround every public building with edible plants.
  • Gradually changes behaviour.
  • Scouts created incredible edible badge.
  • Policing – vandalism down because people don’t vandalise food – community relationships improved because a police officer with veg is disarming.
  • If people help themselves to entire bed of potatoes they only do it because they need it – plant more potatoes.
  • The only thing we asked of the job centre could we plug our drill into your electricity – they said no.
  • 57% of local residents are now growing food.
  • We have created vegetable tourism.
  • People can make a better world of the people in power get out of the way.  We set up a farm (without planning permission!).  and http://incredibleaquagarden.co.uk/
  • Stop being a victim and find a simple way to communicate.
  • People building initiative which used food as a universal langiage.
  • To gte involved go here.  http://incredibleediblenetwork.org.uk/
  • Believe in the power of small actions.