Exploring the new community enablers, and how digital may help them

Over the past few months I’ve been nudging at a number of projects and storylines that really needed linking up  … as well as developing explorations as a way to making sense of complex situations, joining up different interests, and helping people use social media. I think that’s what social reporting is about, and it’s coming together.

Here’s news of a new exploration to follow the ones with Big Lottery Fund and Nominet Trust. It’s about community organising, building, mobilising … networks …. and how digital technology can help. I hope you’ll find interesting the way that it has evolved, and maybe make some suggestions.

The storylines leading towards this exploration have included Networking civil society, Sociable events to build networksCelebration 2.0, Games to realise community assets, Digital literacy, the limitations of citizen journalism in community building, and the official and unofficial connectors that may make localism work.

These and others fill out – more by chance than design – the framework I wrote about last year which focussed in new roles, new structures, new resources and new methods.

The projects that I’ve wanted to join up are firstly some interviews with community organisers and builders, commissioned by Community Matters, to help citizens and community groups understand the different models and what could be useful for them; secondly the Media4ME project on social media in multi-cultural neighbourhoods; and thirdly social reporting training.

Several things have acted as catalysts to turn this into a package. Firstly, as I trailed here, and reported more fully in my previous post, Drew Mackie and I ran a day’s workshop with the community builders at Forever Manchester, and I also talked with Mark Parker about his experience as a community organiser in Southwark.

A common strand was joining up networks both online and face-to-face. Then in addition, Drew and I have been working with Ben Lee, of the National Association for Neighbourhood Management, on the Media4ME project described here. Part of that work is helping people in Fishermead, Milton Keynes, use social media around summer fun days, bringing together many creative projects in the area.

So – here my proposed exploration, as a draft invitation.

The new enablers

Join us in an exploration of the new roles, skills and approaches of community enablers, including how can they can include digital technologies in their tools for network building and neighbourhood change.

We will be looking at the growing numbers of community organisers, builders, connectors and mobilisers now being trained and supported both by Government and independent organisations.

While there are differing philosophies of social change, there is some common ground on methods for organising and facilitating action by citizens.

Several are exploring how best to use digital technology in their work, including support for community media projects, citizen journalism and social reporting.

During the exploration we will be interviewing key people in the different movements and organisations, curating information on the different approaches, and blogging about new developments.

David Wilcox of socialreporters.net is running a workshop with Communities and Local Government where he will preview a game that will help enablers choose suitable social media methods.

On May 10 Socialreporters, Media4ME, and community organiser Mark Parker are running a seminar focussed on developing further practical ideas on the use of digital technologies in neighbourhoods, and in particular network building both online and face-to-face. How do we ensure digital is really useful for local network development?

We’ll be collaborating with those who are training community enablers of various types, and developing a social reporters kit with a number of groups now experimenting with social media in neighbourhoods.

As part of our work with the European Media4ME project we are working in Milton Keynes to support local people using social media to develop new connections in their community – and will be reporting on similar work in other European projects.

As part of the Celebration 2.0 project supported by the Nominet Trust we’ll be producing a kit specifically focussed on how to use social media to amplify community events.

We’ll also be drawing on lessons from earlier exploration with Big Lottery Fund on People Powered Change, and with Nominet Trust on how young people can use digital technology to engage socially and economically with their communities

Our outputs will be a report on community enablers, advice on using social media as part of neighbourhood change, and a kit for social reporters.

I’ve posted it in draft because I would welcome any suggestions. Subject to that, I’ll post an update here shortly, and then move over to socialreporters.net where we are running the explorations. I’m also wondering whether this might be the occasion to re-animate our Social by Social network.


  • April 19, 2012 - 12:21 pm | Permalink

    david this is welcome – I am writing a series of articles, not yet published on my own experience of civic activism and what the web added to it – as opposed to ‘we have these digital tools, how can they be used’. no doubt they can tie in with your work somehow

    can i make a suggestion that in your work you simplify as much as possible all the overlapping stuff as i read through the above i get quite confused as to which scheme or programme is which, even though i think i have taken part in some. and maybe ban the word ‘social’



    • david wilcox
      April 19, 2012 - 12:49 pm | Permalink

      Thanks will – and hope we can join up somehow. Fair point in the narrative. It turned into a bit of a personal reflection. More outward facing next time.

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