The highly-ambitious Your Square Mile programme, that aims to help develop “8000 local democracies” throughout the UK supported by new online systems, now has some of the first sites up in the pilot areas, using SocialGO. Here’s screen shots from Todmorden. There is no central register of sites, but as examples here’s Liverpool8, Manton, and Wigton.
Each site follows a similar format, featuring a film shot by the Media Trust at workshops organised by the Your Square Mile team, and five projects developed and voted on by those attending.
Most content on the sites is private – that is, accessible only to those who have registered. The site invitation is aimed at local people, although there appears to be no way of checking if you do wish to register from outside the area.
There is lively discussion about the Your Square Mill plans over on the Our Society network. Julian Dobson posed some questions on his blog, and Your Square Mile chief executive Paul Twivy responded here, with more details. The aim is not just to create local web sites, but also to make Your Square mile the UK’s biggest mutually-owned organisation, with 15 million members with 10 years. They will pay a small sum in return for benefits.
I’ve commented a lot in the Our Society discussions, and believe that Your Square Mile could offer huge benefits … if the development team are able to learn from work over the past 15 years in this field. There may also be lessons to learn from VillageSOS, where Big Lottery has also funded development of SocialGO sites.
So far the VillageSOS sites show little activity, and anyone who has created a local online site knows how challenging it can be to recruit people and facilitate activity. In a recent Our Society discussion, Steve Clift questions whether private sites on the scale envisaged by Your Square Mile are likely to succeed.
However, it is early days, and I wish all those in the pilot areas well in their efforts to make use of the generous Big Lottery funding. I hope they will share their experience, either on Our Society, or some other open platform.
If you are interested, do drop a comment here, or even better join us at Our Society, where we now have more than 480 members. You have to register to contribute, but that’s simple and we’ll make you welcome.