Today some 180 people passionate about the future of London communities are getting togther to share ideas about how to organise social action and support local groups in the face of funding cuts and major social challenges.
A few weeks ago London funding organisations and their partners held an official event on how to support civil society organisations, as part of The Way Ahead initiative.
There were many excellent proposals, but some activists at that event argued that there wasn't sufficient recognition of the role of grass-roots organisations. In a short time a group of networks, supported by Matt Scott of the London Voluntary Service Council, organised their response - Our Way Ahead. We are meeting this afternoon at London Metropolitan University from 1pm with a started scheduled for 2pm.
There will be lots on Twitter, if you follow #OurWayAhead, and John Popham will be live streaming and doing interviews. I'll be helping with that, and also working with Drew Mackie to create a living map of London networks.
Matt Scott and researcher Matt Pugh have created a basic network map of key London organisations and networks in London civil society, and we'll invite people to add their organisations and connections.
Drew Mackie - who is working with me and Matt on the Networked City initiative - will then update and display the emerging map on the wall - all being well. I'll report later.
We'll also be tweeting with the tag #GoodforLDN, because at our planning meeting we agreed that we needed a London dimension to tweets. I suggested Good for London because I remembered that back at the start of our Networked City exploration I wrote:
Let’s talk about #goodforlondon to make sense of civil society, a networked city and #thewayahead
Signups are going well for our event tomorrow about London as a networked and neighbourly city, creating a Living Lab to help reframe civil society, using tech to support social action.
It’s about all of those things, and I suspect each idea resonates with different interests. I think that’s a problem, and we need an idea and a tag everyone can understand. How about #goodforlondon?
Behind the rather abstract terms I’ve been using so far in these posts is the idea that we need to rethink how people and organisations doing good cooperate and collaborate in the networked age, where the Internet is changing so much about the way we lead our lives, and the relationships, interests and activities we can develop.
I was looking for a term, a tag, that embraces the broad idea of action for social good - whether by individuals, community groups, charities, public agencies or social businesses.
That is a key idea in the official The Way Ahead reports
We begin with three beliefs: first, that a thriving civil society is good for Londoners; second, that in order to achieve a strong and vibrant civil society, just like any other sector, civil society organisations need access to appropriate support, as well as a ‘voice’ within the debates about London; and third that London faces both challenges and opportunities which mean we need to rethink how that support and voice is best provided to civil society in London.
The Way Ahead proposes a system that puts London’s communities at the heart of the way we all work. It begins with co-producing an understanding of need and how to tackle it with our communities, through to better sharing of intelligence and data across all sectors, and making sure that civil society’s voice is heard in decision-making at a strategic level.
I think people in Our Way Ahead agree with that ... and I hope that #GoodforLDN might be a tag that can be used to bring together "official" ideas and ones developed today. There's lots you can do with Twitter to gather ideas, spark conversations and build networks if you agree a tag. I'm interested in how far we can get. If we need it, I'm happy to offer goodfor.london which I've registered.
I think the benefit that Our Way Ahead will bring to The Way Ahead is a street-level perspective on what life is like in London today, and what can be done by citizens and community groups to support and complement more official actions.