For us events are about the power of making connections – between the people in the room, between like-minded groups and networks – and within local communities.
Some call these ‘intentional networks’ – created through personal relationships, not structure charts – and for specific purposes as well as mutual support and professional development. Almost everyone among the seventy-five people in the room knew at least one other person, some knew many more. A few discovered connections with people they initially thought were strangers.
Interests and goals overlapped. The common thread was enabling individual citizens to have more influence over their neighbourhoods regardless of income, social status, skills, or confidence.
Real-life examples were shared from York the hosts, plus Barnsley, Wakefield, Durham, and Bradford. The fact these places are relatively close made examples seem more relevant.
Most shared the view that these ways of working need human and financial resources to happen, but in today’s financial climate that requires strong arguments to budget holders and funders – based on hard, compelling evidence. Experiences on this score were listened to with interest.
Many also shared the view that this is about more than minor adjustments to ways of working but something bigger, and more radical – a new mindset about how local amenities and services are controlled and delivered – and about the relationship between citizens and local government.
The day left us tired but inspired – and as ever, it sparked as many new questions as were answered – around demonstrating social value, partnerships with volunteers, sharing power, sharing budgets…
The risk, is that conversations ends just as they start to get somewhere. The true measure of success for days like this is whether we can find ways for those who took part to pick up the conversation another time, move forward, and draw new people and networks in.
So our final question is – who wants to host the next stage of this conversation?
To find out more about the event or help us plan another just drop a line to firstname.lastname@example.org