Following a Lobbi strategy group meeting yesterday – which I trailed here – it looks as if one strand of development will focus on a kit of technology tools to support local change agents … that is people doing good stuff in their community.
Those change agents might be councillors, community organisers, people running local groups, citizens running a campaign and/or generally working to revive local democracy. The tools they use (or could use) might be existing ones used by groups like Facebook, Twitter, blogs, Eventbrite, Evernote, Dropbox … as well as email, texts and phones, of course.
The tools may also be new ones like the many mobile apps under development – perhaps including some by Apps for Good, who train young people to be developers.
Lobbi’s mission – led by Hussain “Hoz” Shafiei and Steve Moore – is to promote citizen engagement and action through social technology, and as I wrote earlier ” bring politics into the 21st century”.
I’m particularly pleased about this possible strand of Lobbi’s development because it ties in with some work I started last year on community enablers (for want of a general terms), and earlier ideas for a social app store further developed by John Popham. More links below on the background, and what follows.
I’ve used the term “change agents” because during our workshop discussion one group made the point strongly that it’s no good assembling a kit of technology tools to offer to community enablers unless you have some idea of how change happens. That may be through campaigning, working with elected representatives, crowdsourcing funding for new projects, building new networks and a host of other activities. You need a theory of change, and models for how stuff happens. I particularly like the thinking of Tessy Britton and Eileen Conn on that.
So far Lobbi has focused on developing a major web platform that would enable citizens, their elected representatives and officials to interact. In my earlier post I raised issues of what it might take to attract people to the platform, manage and fund it. I suggested a couple of early angles, now emerging:
First, if looking for a niche, consider focusing on how to digitally enable the enablers who help build communities. What help do they need in the personal use of technology, how can they help others, how can they enable their organisations. Go person-centric.
Second, take an asset-based approach nationally. Map who is doing what in this first, and aim to build connections both personal and technical. Use that knowledge both to advise and build kits for the enablers, and to create a strong community and movement for technology-enabled social action.
The ideas went down OK with Hoz and with Steve, who kindly tweeted encouragement:
At yesterday’s strategy workshop we agreed that developing a kit that helps you make a change in your community, with a mix of tech and others methods, could be a good start towards much wider engagement of citizens and their representatives.
The second point I raised – above – could be met by mapping who is doing what already, and developing a network for enabler/change agents to support each other.
What next? I’ll be following through on the exploration and development I’ve already started, with a view to an update on the workshop that we ran last year, which made a start on scoping out a kit. I hope to interest others in the emerging Lobbi network to develop a plan for testing and evolving a kit, with some “for real” local testing, and review that with Hoz and Steve.
Update: I’ve expanded here on the ideas behind a kit in the first in a series of posts
- Lobbi and the Lobbi blog
- Introducing Lobbi – with bold aims to change politics locally and globally
- Exploring the new community enablers, and how digital may help
- Community enabler exploration on socialreporters.net
- Digitally enabling the fictitious communities of Slapham
- The challenge of networking civil society
- How we are using online tools and social networking – by Urban Forum
- Apps for Good
- Earlier posts about the idea of a social app store and people-centred development
- Creative/Collaborative as a new Participatory Paradigm? by Tessy Britton.
- Respecting the importance of emerging community enablers – the work of Eileen Conn