Big Society

Exploring big society thinking within the built environment

Location: uk
Members: 10
Latest Activity: May 14, 2016

Big Society thinking ...

Having tuned in to the Big Society in the North event last night by twitter I was taken by the similarity of themes between the emerging big society movement and be2camp. (unconference, uses of social media, community engagement etc) And of course there is the influence that big society may well have in relation to the built environment.

This group is simply a discussion forum for big society thinking from a be2camp perspective, and who knows could lead to a be2camp event focused on big society thinking.

One of the big, elephant in the room questions though still to be addressed is what is big society, what does this all mean?

A few leads may help:

Julion Dobsons blog Living with Rats

Big Society in the North network
The Big Society (Square Mile)

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Comment by Martin Brown on September 21, 2010 at 7:32
I have summed up my thoughts on big society on a posterous blog article Big Society - useful thinking or a dangerous distraction? which may be of interest in the debate.
Comment by ALISON WATSON on August 2, 2010 at 6:47
Well, if a fellow Yorkshireman (nice one too, Tony) can have a plug, then I guess so can I!

The road to success as a social entrepreneur is never (and will never) be an easy one when your first consideration really is '"what's in it for the kids/commmunity" rather than "will this pay fo me to go on that nice Umbrian holiday this year". In fact, I rather think the other half has given up on me ever being profit driven. I guess that's how I'm measured, not in fiscal terms, but in how much I'm giving back to the community as a businesswoman.

However, here's something quite extraordinary...When you hook onto something that you really believe can be life changing for kids, and then those same kids turn around and actually acknowledge outloud that your 'something' is actually changing their lives, and that of their parents and grandparents, then the feeling of fulfilment and personal satisfaction makes the lack of holiday brochures in one's household for a year or so incredibly worthwhile.

Class Of Your Own exists to give that vast part of the community - the kids, children, young people (whatever the bureaucrats want to call them these days), a voice. And not only a voice that ticks that "yes we listened for a pre-allocated amount of time, and gave them a coke too!" box, but also that "actually, these little people have a valid point more often than not" box. Let's face it, the kids take over from all of us oldies in a few years. They are the businessmen and entrepreneurs of tomorrow, so maybe we should be paying them a little more attention today. They're savvy with technology, hungry to learn new skills and genuinely keen to learn how to save their planet from the mess the adults are making for them. They have no preconceptions, no hidden agendas and my goodness, they are forthright and get on with stuff in a day which would take the older generations weeks or even months. They have an exciting part to play in this big society, armed with fresh new ideas which are often amazing.

During the past year, Class Of Your Own and Fairsnape have been working together to introduce new intiatives for young people, and these have been grabbed, digested and regurgitated faster than a McDonalds Happy Meal. Kids love 'eco stuff' and show leadership qualities worthy of a seat in Westminster. When some of these kids visit later this year, they might just raise the bar a little higher....

There'll be more Blogs and Tweets from these kids than you can shake a stick at. Ignore at your might just learn something!!
Comment by Tony Carroll on July 30, 2010 at 17:08
Indeed Martin. Since GG is still in its beta testing stage we've been able to use web2.0 to create a digital footprint quite quickly. Co-creation of evidence is certainly important when it comes to having a credible dialogue with outside organisations since the 3rd sector is absolutely crammed to bursting with great intentions and needy projects.

With the forthcoming drop in finances available to the sector it is important that your message is clear to the outside world no matter what channels they are using.

So, even if some of the the channels are unused or under-utilised we find that it's vital to 'bag' them at the outset if only to protect your IP.

Channels bagged so far in no order of preference:
Website (obviously)

In addition there are various Big Society groups springing up that others may find interesting. In particular there is

The Big Society network
Big Society North
Comment by Martin Brown on July 29, 2010 at 10:19
Tony, of course you are excused. I think it would be great to have examples of what innovations, products and projects fit into the big society debate. Lets try and keep them within the be2camp scope of thinking though. That is the theme of Web2.0 and social media within the context of the built environment, sustainability, resilience, collaborative working and community engagement.
Comment by Tony Carroll on July 28, 2010 at 13:57
Am I excused a plug for an example project that I'm involved in?

GG was deliberately formulated to work with private business and the third sector to deliver the health, education and exercise outputs needed by those on high but by engaging community and business needs and fusing them together whether the usual funders like it or not. So far the reception has been absolutely incredible from all parties.
Comment by Martin Brown on July 28, 2010 at 13:31
Thanks for the comment Tony.

Within the built environment (as elsewhere I guess) there, are from my experience, likewise two sets of thinking to change. Those who will wait to be told what to do through legislation and then do minimum possible, and the other set who see an opportunity and go for it and reap benefits.

This is of course also a generalisation but it will be interesting to see how players in the design, construction and fm sectors approach big society. Run or engage?
Comment by Tony Carroll on July 28, 2010 at 13:15
A generalisation: In life there are two mindsets, those that see a problem and those who see an opportunity.

I'll bag the opportunity.

It's clear that the days of free and easy public spending on 'nice to have' has gone for the foreseeable future so we need a new way to engage and motivate people while actually getting things done.

Engagement requires a two way deal so that both parties can get something out of it, otherwise why bother? But, it doesn't just have to be about money, it could be about real human needs on the one hand, and getting great PR on the other. Alternative motivators might be upskilling, community relations, improving health or even just proving to your clients that you really do care rather than just telling them that you do.

The voluntary sector is overflowing with goodwill but little cash. Conversely private sector business is not short of cash but it needs to see a return on any spend. It's all well and good sponsoring the school or university society football team for a grand but the novelty soon wears off.

So, hopefully when we put our minds to work we'll come up with innovative ideas that harness both sides of the 'need'.

Over to the floor.
Comment by Martin Brown on July 28, 2010 at 12:55
Big Society:
A challenge to democracy or opportunity for real community engagement?
What does this mean for the built environment?
Can we see a shift in facilities ownership as part of a massive asset transfer programme?
What role does social media have?
Comment by Martin Brown on July 28, 2010 at 12:45
The hashtag to catch up on twitter feed from last nights event and tweets from Big Society in the North is via #bsitnorth (and @bsitnorth is worth a follow too)

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