Category: Big Society

#fundbrum – how do you find funding opportunities in Birmingham?

A group of people sitting round a table - photo taken through a green tinged window
Futureshift information flow hack which created #fundbrum – picture Tessy Britton

Last week I ran an hour long mini hack at the Futureshift festival on the flow of information in Birmingham.  A fine group of people sat down together and started by sharing what information they needed but was not available or easily available.

The information problems thrown up from the group fell into three main areas:

  • Democratic and power information – who’s making decisions, how they’re making them, what their interests are, how do we connect with who’s in charge and many others.
  • Very local information – what’s going on where I live?  what businesses are there – how can I know.
  • Funding for arts or community activity – why do I hear about pots of money after they’ve gone?

We were looking – as you do in a hack – for things that we could do.

So what did you come up with?


One simple idea from the funding group was #fundbrum – a simple hashtag to share any funding information which might be useful for people in Birmingham.  I’ve been using it a bit:


and Alexandria Robinson-Sutherland (a Birmingham artist) who helped come up with the idea …

It could of course be #fundstoke or #fundbristol.

That’s not a bad idea, can I help?


Please. Just use it.  If you see some source of income that might help Birmingham community and vol orgs – or artists or inventors –  share a link to it on twitter and use #fundbrum  Maybe write a quick post on facebook or a blog to say that’s what you’re doing.

Let’s see if it helps.




#futureshift notes – Pam Warhurst, incredible edible.

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


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
  • 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.
  • Believe in the power of small actions.


#futureshift festival – notes from the day: Maurice Specht

Futureshift is designed to help civic activities and civic good flourish in Birmingham and the Black Country

FutureShift has brought together a powerful mix of spaces, resources and investment for idea development and new initiatives. FutureShift will enable you to become a bigger part of this exciting and important shift towards co-designing society in a more sustainable way, economically, socially and environmentally.

Here are some notes form some of the sessions.

Maurice Specht

Guerrilla knitting going on in Holland – it’s nice but it isn’t going to change the world.  But grannies finest might – it connect design students who have to make products to elderly who are lonely. The students develop their talents and the elderly are less lonely – without money from government.  They wanted to grow – growth means capital.  They want to the bank – who said this is to social. they went ot the government who said you are too commercial.

Mentions communty lover guide.

Desire path’s demonstrate how we want to go – not how the system wants us to move. What if we translate this idea into how we want to organise out society.  The stories in the community lovers guide might be quantitativly small – but point to a qualitative change.

eg Voedseltuin in Rotterdam which grows food for the foodbank.

Government is trying to create pockets of centralised activity – robustness comes from connected local efforts.

Zorgvrijstaat Rotterdam West  connects caring organisation to improve their chances of bidding for public money. is a coalition of citizen initiatives which is now running for electoral office`

Distinction between practicing and rehearsing.  Practicing is what you do on your own. Rehearsing is what you do with a collective – where you learn to work with others.  We need rehearsal space to learn how to work towards learning new ways of organising our society and democracy.

New motto – dare to make.


Links to some interesting things from this week.



Sir Tim Berners-Lee: World wide web needs bill of rights

Join the fight for the web to be open for us all – see the BBC report.

Our laws not theirs:

Finland is crowdsourcing ideas for new laws and working with the security minded money world to verify the process…

“a non-profit group of Helsinki entrepreneurs started a website called Open Ministry to allow people of voting age to propose initiatives online. The website uses APIs from banks and mobile operators to confirm identities. Recently, the Finnish Parliament approved the platform after verifying that the electronic identification process is secure.”

Of course building a whole new one of these wouldn’t be so smart – borrowing from the one already built would probably be better

Futureshift:  civic innovation in Birmingham and the black Country:

I’ve mentioned Futureshift  elsewhere – but if you have ideas for civic innovation in Birmingham or the Black Country this is the time and place to share them.

Elliot review of food safety comes to Birmingham – and we’re working on it alongside New Optimists.

The Elliot Review comes to Birmingham for some practical help in finding ways to reduce food crime.

Dave Harte enjoying himself:


A new network for people in Local Government who make digital stuff.


My 10 Things about NHS Citizen – some reflections o a programme being pulled together by some of the best in the digital civic works – including our friends/collaborators  Demsoc and Public-i.   With encouragement from Tim Kelsey.

Digital Government Review

Labour launches a review of the relationship between digital and government.  Involved is sharp cookie Will Perrin.