Simon leaves ruralnet|uk – lucky Defra

Since the mid 1990s ruralnet|uk, led by Simon Berry, has been at the forefront of innovation using social media for social innovation – and not just in the countryside.

Now Simon has announced on his blog that he is moving on to take up a secondment in Government to work on Defra’s Third Sector Strategy and the new Greener Living Fund, and won’t be returning to ruralnet|uk when that ends.

This is a real bitter-sweet affair for me. On the one hand I am really looking forward to the Defra secondment which is right up my street: liaison with the Third Sector where I have lots of friends,plus the chance to change people’s behaviour in ways that have a positive impact on the environment. Work that will make me feel good.

On the other hand, I did set-up ruralnet|uk and I have really enjoyed working with all the people that make up ruralnet, so moving away is a terrible wrench. However, although the funding environment is really tough, ruralnet|uk is in good shape to cope. It has a great team of people with leading edge skills and ideas and Web 2.0 based services to back this up. I have invested too much to drop my support and enthusiasm for what ruralnet|uk is and what it does.  So, I want to be available to continue to offer encouragement and ideas, but on request only and in a non-interfering sort of way!

I first met Simon when Ruralnet was experimenting with FirstClass as a networking system, later using that to create Networksonline, supporting several dozen nonprofit networks. Earlier this year ruralnet|uk reinvented its online business in public, following an open collaboration process model Simon helped develop for the Open Innovation Exchange bid last year.

I’ve worked with Simon on quite a few projects during that time. I’ve found that there are people who are creative; people who are fun; people who are trustworthy; and people who deliver … but very few who are all of those. Simon is one, so Defra are pretty lucky.

I hope Simon will be able continue the open approach that he brought to DCLG – running a blog about his work.

Meanwhile you can follow the extraordinarily impressive Colalife campaign Simon started to persuade Coca Cola to use its distribution system for simple medicines to save children’s lives. Interview with Simon here. He’s now been invited to Dar Es Salaam to talk to Coca Cola.

I could spend another paragraph or two explaining why Colalife is important … but the campaign video does it much better. Going to the video here, rating it and leaving a comment all helps.

One comment

  • November 11, 2008 - 9:25 am | Permalink

    Thanks for sharing this news David. I got to work with Simon a little bit while he was here and found him inspiring. He’s certainly left his mark on the policy colleagues he worked with, and I am glad that Defra will feel the ripples of the Simon Berry effect too.

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