On the 4th of June, 20 people from St. Paul's and around the area attended this session at the Docklands Youth Centre in the heart of St. Paul's, where we had the opportunity to explore new ways of meeting and collaborating, including Open Space, a method used for hosting meetings of any size where the agenda is set by participants and participants can choose which items of the agenda they focus on.
If you are interested in reading about the methods we used, please click on them ( highlighted in grey) to follow external links with further information on these processes and how to use them.
We practiced the methods by entering in conversations using Art of Hosting processes.
The day started with a circle to find out who was who, then Judith Davis, member of The Community Rights Project team spoke about the project and said: "Our economic barrel is leaky, there is something going wrong somewhere.... Lets use our collective intelligence for social change.
This was followed by an Appreciative Inquiry, where participants working in triads discussed the passions which brought them to the event.
Passions included: community, multi-culturality, sharing skills, connecting, keeping the community together, giving children opportunities we had, keeping the community together, giving time to honour what people have to say, being the possibilities and not the problems, sense of place and ownership as well as sharing ideas and resources.
Other comments made included:
"whatever you have you can share", "we need to value everyones skills", We need spaces to play and nurture", "We are lucky in St. Paul's to have an existing community and things going on" "let's get rid of apathy", "We have what we have because we worked for it", " No body is in the same page and we can't connect", "There are more similarities than there are differences"
Then we used a Circle to give people the time to raise the questions they had about their community and as a result of the conversations during the Appreciative Inquiry; in preparation for the Open Space session in the afternoon. Questions included:
During the Open Space session, people had the choice to host a conversation, be a participant, move around between topics or just take some time of to rest and absorb what had been discussed so far.
Some conversations merged after hosts who created the topics made the decision.
Topics of conversation included:
Here is the agenda created by the group and the harvest sheets (notes) from the groups, including key insights, new questions and next steps:
During the day after an abundant shared lunch, we also introduced the 8 Breaths (principles for participatory group process design) and we finished the day with a World Cafe (used to find out what a group of people are thinking) where you set up a space to look like and feel like a cafe, decorate tables with flowers and line the table with paper where everyone is invited to take notes, or draw as they feel, and people work around a question, we chose to ask:
What are you taking away and what are you going to do with it?
This was some of the feedback:
Here are some of the things that were said about the event as part of the feedback....
" Great chance to meet people who have the energy to do this sort of thing, too often I am working on my own, so excited to link up with other groups"
"Excellent and Inspiring, great content"
"I learned we are all connected and have common goals,
The hosting team for this process was brought together by Community CoLab, our training partner and included Meredith Freeman, Fausto Llopis, Judith Davis and Jose Barco.
We would like to thank the participants for bringing their heart and souls to the space and diving into a deep inquiry with us, we also thank them for their contributions and engaged participation.
As a result of the day a total of 15 participants have signed up to get together again and discuss the possibility of collectively creating a participatory engagement process in St. Paul's Bristol. The hosting team will support them to create this event which will be under their complete control including the topic, the venue, the date and all aspects, we will support them using Art of Hosting processes to design and deliver so they can put what they have learned by putting it into practice on a topic which they are passionate about and help them to achieve their aims as individuals, members of the community and/ or their organisations and as people who desire a more participatory world which develops through co- creation and collaboration.
St. Paul's Community Rights Project Launch March 5th, 2016 @Docklands Centre Meeting Minutes/ Update
Our St. Paul's Community Rights Project Launch was a huge success beyond our own expectations, there is a lot of work to do in St. Paul's and there is definitely a need for people to get together to start looking at the creation of a broad based community organisation for St. Paul's and a community led space for discussing issues and coordination action.
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Its been a bit of a rough start....
Whilst the funding for the project didn't arrive to Full Circle accounts until the end of December, this project started in early December, the steering committee met a few times and there was an ongoing conversation with our funder which very kindly agreed to change the budget after a large amount of our in-kind funding was dropped.
In December I attended a great workshop in Neighbourhood Planning delivered by Tony Burton.
It was great to see other Community Organisers and share our excitement and concerns about our projects.
Tony was really good at making a potentially dull and complicated subject into a very easy to digest experience.
I've been working 3-4 days per week on this project and only payed for 1.5,
This month i've spent a lot of time building this website and the Facebook page and arranging the training session dates and venues.
I completely underestimated the amount of work this would require, so at the moment I am looking for potential funders which could inject a bit more investment to help cover my pay, but also to extent the Art of Participatory Leadership training to a 3 day course.
As part of this project we are recruiting a Apprentice Community Organiser who will work with me to run this project, ideally someone from the neighbourhood. This person will get payed a living wage and work only 1 day per week, though we may be able to find more money to provide some extra work, which would be great.
I am really excited about working with someone else to delivered this, I am also really excited about the amount of great applications we've received and the quality of the applicants. We will be interviewing next week!
The Community Rights Project Bristol was created by a team of community leaders in St. Paul's, Bristol who have seen the power of community organising in action and want to create opportunities for local people to learn and share, to get a better understanding of Community Rights and Neighbourhood Planning and to explore how these Localism policies could benefit the local community.
The community leaders who make up our team represent grassroots organisations deeply rooted in this community. Our steering group includes representatives from The Malcolm X Centre, Full Circle Youth and Family Project and The St. Paul's Adventure Playground Management Committee.
This project is created in a context of ongoing frustration about Austerity and the damaging effects it is having in the community, frustration about severe cuts for children and young people services whilst the St. Paul's Adventure Playground is wasted as a community resource and is not well serviced or maintained and young people are forgotten, lacking opportunities and large numbers being locked up for trying to make a living though selling drugs in a world that encourages consumerism and bling bling when there are no jobs to keep up to the latest fashion.
Frustration about The St. Paul's Carnival being postponed and cancelled, frustration about the Malcolm X Centre being at risk of closure, frustration about a residents parking scheme that people didn't want and was imposed even after saying no to it if it meant that residents would have to pay when its a commuter problem.
St. Paul's an area of multiple depravation and for this reason it receives heavy investment, however how little things change.
I wonder...... how leaky is the barrel? how much of this investment really stays in St. Paul's and gets redistributed in the local economy?
Yes there is a lot frustration, but the beauty of St. Paul's is that is a place full of people with hope and dreams, people who don't give up and stand up for their rights.
What if local organisations could be the ones being commission to deliver local services rather than being subcontracted by the big companies?
What if local services where to be co-design with the people who benefit from them?
What if the people employed by service providers where local residents?
What if St. Paul's had it's own Neighbourhood Forum?
What if we try new and more participatory ways of running a Neighbourhood Forum?
This are some of the questions we hope to explore though this project.
What this space.