Third Thursdays, the regular monthly Citycamp meet-ups, provide an opportunity for people interested in social innovation to get together and discuss ideas and projects.
I blogged in my Top 20 reflections from Citycamp 2012 that we could probably make best use of the meet-up if we identified challenges to tackle, alongside the existing aims of checking in with Citycamp project progress and giving each other support and advice.
Last Thursday we had a really lively discussion about challenge setting for the group during the year, but in the meeting we also talked a lot about the need to take more responsibility for the meetings themselves, project progress and “co-producing” the process around bidding and planning etc. We may have come to rely on the leadership of Anthony Zach and Catherine Howe too much, both incredibly busy people.
I think there was a recognition that those who had been offered some support had enough information to pro-actively work out their next steps – even if that were emailing Anthony to check out what is needed next in their case.
The projects represented at the meeting were:
Gig Buddies (Paul Richards)
Digital Inclusion (Matt Day)
Black History Untold (Simon Bannister and me – for Bert Williams)
Digital Natives (Mark Walker and Matt Gould)
Tweetpoint (Cat Fletcher and ____?)
Hub Space (Daniel Herrera)
Susie Latta from Demsoc helped the meeting along as Catherine was unwell. We heard about lots of good feedback that had been received and some things to put right for next time. There were a lot of offers for help in organising future events, in recognition of the burden placed particularly on Anthony and Susie this year.
Gig Buddies are meeting up with Anthony Zach very soon after holiday hiatus. Black History Untold has connected to the Museum Service and their lead on digital, Kevin Bacon. A project meeting was held and a two stage plan mapped out – the first being the development of a smartphone tour of sites of interest, to be promoted during Black History Month and using QR codes. The second stage will explore linkages with the museum’s digital strategy and current throughts are around a project to create and then geo-tag and host content like audio, photos and video on a platform of some kind. Digital Natives have undertaken a very successful after-school club since Citycamp, but felt a bit stuck with the small amount of funding and a lack of capacity to take the work further. They would be keen to find people willing to take the idea on and grow it. Tweetpoint wasn’t discussed in itself but Cat Fletcher will be making contact to get the in-kind business case development support offered by the Chamber of Commerce. Cat raised a very interesting point about many of these ideas being not-for-profit. Daniel reported that further thinking around Hub Space had taken him to thinking about a “pop-up” hub space concept around the city.
A number of people felt that they needed more structure / clarity around fund allocation and decision-making. My understanding is that projects should bid-in to Anthony against their nominal allocation. Probably sensible to take this step by step. For example, work out how much it might cost to create a business case and project plan and ask for that.
Many people agreed that the Third Thursday meet-ups needed to offer more than the opportunity to discuss the projects pitched during the Citycamp weekend. The group are naturally interested in ideas and innovation and are really keen to collaborate as a group on challenges. Further collaboration will happen I’m sure on the existing projects, especially ones like Hub Space that mean alot to everyone straight off. I gave an example of a challenge – the Benefits changes that are happening – and Matt Day gave some really engaging detail about the “timebomb” that’s ticking. The worst hit families will be losing around £100 per week. The group agreed that they would like to hear more next time from some experts and to have a go at thinking about how social / digital innovations could help with the problem. I will be speaking to some experts and inviting them along and others had some people to invite too. We also said that it would be vital to hear from people that will be affected as we think about solutions with them. Futuregov hosted a Benefitscamp in London in January – it could be that we plan an event in the city – connecting to the Council led Welfare Reform Working Group?
So I think we agreed that future meet-ups would have three parts: Spotlight Project (Gig Buddies next time); Project Clinic (some sort of speed dating to keep timing); Challenge (Benefit changes next time).
Susie was going to review the online options on the Citycamp site for project update / discussion / challenge setting etc. We also thought using Meet-up for Third Thursdays might help.
Anyone else that was there, please add your comments / amendments against this post and I’ll incorporate them in a second version.