Category Archives: shine2008

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MyBnk, The Hunger Project and other stories

Great, laidback vibe around the building today: lots of one-to-one sessions and conversations taking place. I bumped into Lily Lapenna of MyBnk in the Snug and chatted about CSR, Ashoka and other things. It’s a great project, so check out the website: financial awareness and understanding is such a key life skill, and initiatives like this will be key in making it happen.

Also seen quite a few SSE Fellows: Jo Dempster, Winnie Williams, Tom Bulman, Will Rogers and others; great to see them all here. I’ve been trying to broker them to some particularly interesting sessions and areas; where else could you get innovation thoughts from NESTA, bespoke advice from What If?!, planning from Ashoka….all for £20 a day. Bargain.

Currently Tom is talking in front of me to Patrick Moore from the Hunger Project, who’s speaking hugely passionately about the need to empower men and women in developing countries. Patrick’s just suggested that I link to their new video, so watch it here. What I totally agree with Patrick about is the need to stop seeing people as ‘beneficiaries’ and see them as potential leaders, as authors of their own solutions. Very much in line with the messages SSE gives out about people in the UK and beyond: social entrepreneurs often come from the communities they’re aiming to serve (and the problems they contain).

Announcing the 2gether Festival

Steve Moore used the Shine conference last night to announce that Channel4 will be backing the 2gether Festival on July 2 and 3rd in London, bringing together media people, social entrepreneurs and innovators.

The name has changed from 4Good, but the aim will be the same as that trailed earlier – bringing together social entrepreurs, innovators , software dvelopers and other social media types to, well … help change the world for the better.

Steve has recently been working for Channel4 on their Next on 4 strategy to move from being a broadcaster to a digital media company. This involves the development of 4I

… a £50 million creative fund that’ll see us work with partners across the UK to kick-start a wave of investment in public service digital media.

It’s about nurturing new talent. Championing new voices and fresh perspectives. Giving people who can create the future of public service broadcasting content the tools and resources they need to do it.

The fund will be formally launched at 2gether. Steve explained that the style of the Festival will be collaborative – to stream together the many digitally-enabled social innovation projects and programmes bubbling up in London and rest of the UK, and to use the convening power of the Channel4 brand to raise the tide.
I’m somewhat biased in favour of the whole thing, since I’m a big fan of Steve and his networking activities, and I’ll be helping develop the 2gether web site, blogging and other communication activities over the next two months.
Current thinking is that we’ll start with a modest blog site, using the WordPress system developed by my friends at Ruralnet, and then start an open collaboration process to plugin technology, ideas, projects, people, network. That way we should end up with an online and offline event that has been created by the people attending, and others interested.

We do know that the event will be at the Rochelle School in East London, which itself has a fascinating history of social innovation. About half a day will be committed to the IP launch and other slightly formal activities, but rest of the programme is pretty open. Well, it was when I left Steve at Shine yesterday, though with at least half a dozen ideas already buzzing. I’m pretty sure that by the time I go back to Shine today there will be more.

However, no decisions have been made, and we should have a web site up next week to invite more ideas. I’ll do an update here … and many other places too. It’s going to be fun. As I wrote over here, there’s a really good feel about the social innovation/social media scene in London at the moment.

Day 2, people…..

So, with only a mild hangover and a desperate need of coffee, we begin day 2 of the inaugural Shine Unconference. As Nelly once memorably said, it’s hot in here: hoefully the beautiful weather will inspire people to come to the SouthBank, rather than head to the great outdoors…..

Already bumped into the impromptu social reporting team (Darragh, Ben, Dave) this morning; you can check out what they’re writing throughout the day here and at their own blogs ( , ); also met with Siobhan Edwards from Nesta, who are one of our kind, generous and pioneering sponsors. David McQueen has just welcomed everyone in the Marketplace, and people have now gone off to their various sessions in the snugs and nooks and crannies of this amazing building.

Do check out some of the video clips from yesterday (see link to the right), and watch out for the live twittering, posting etc from today’s day at Shine….

First day round-up

Ok, sitting here in the Marketplace listening to Steve Moore (I think) discussing the announcement of a new fund related to Channel 4 and digital media. It’s been a great first day here at Shine: really in line with what I and SSE and the other organisers hoped for when we first sat down to discuss this event. Practical, relevant, full of networks and inspiring, interesting conversations; no long tedious speeches; genuine interaction and engagement. I’ve seen all of that, and more, today, and I hope more tomorrow and Sunday.

OK, not everything’s worked: we had problems at reception with ticketing, and a few sessions had patchy attendance, but generally really positive. And great to see some real value emerging from 1:1s as well.

Roll on tomorrow.

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Live blogging: David Rossington from DCLG

OK, here’s a first for me. Genuinely live blogging; let’s hope the wireless holds up.

David Rossington, the new head of the Social Enterprise Unit at the Department of Communities and Local Government, is speaking to around 20-25 people here in the Future Cafe. Great that he’s come out to have the conversation with us here today. Currently outlining the background:

– DCLG empowerment white paper: does relate to social enterprise and entrepreneurship, but also about active citizens getting voice in their communities in relation to local/regional government.

read more »

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Being inspired by UnLtdWorld – Nicola

I’ve just attended a great presentation by Nicola and Alberto from I’ll cover the presentation later but I took the opportunity to sit with Nicola in the wonderful Glastonbury themed garden (photos to follow) on the top floor of this building to find out more about the site.

(You can download the UnLtdWorld brochure in PDF format here)

Nicola is a communications assistant with UnLtd but is the evangelist for UnLtdWorld. She is the first friend that people have when they join and is an intrinsic part and personality of the site.

UnLtdWorld calls itself a

“Community of Socially-minded people, empowering members to generate greater social impact in the real world by enabling them to share, shape and build knowledge, markets and communities through social networks.”

So what does that actually mean? Is it just another social networking site, albeit for a great cause?

Since it opened in mid February 2008 the site has brought together all the UnLtd award winners and other social entrepreneurs in a well designed, functional and attractive community online.

From the UnLtd website:

UnLtd supports social entrepreneurs – people with vision, drive, commitment and passion who want to change the world for the better. We do this by providing a complete package of funding and support to help individuals make their ideas a reality.

Given that their member base consists of people who have actively sought funding for their projects already and won awards because of it, there’s a commitment and a hunger already there, but also a level of experience and expertise that people are willing to share and seek to learn from.

Nicola, who’s 24 and from Manchester (her profile is here) is a passionate, empathetic and inspiring person. She is an ideal representative for the site and a committed Community Manager whose expertise and appeal lies in her personal, professional approach to members and her openess to laughter, smiles and fun.

Her story and background matches the person in front of me – due to difficult personal circumstances at 17 she decided to start to make a difference. She describes a transformation from “typical selfish 17 year old” to someone who wants to make everything a bit more worthwhile. She moved to London for University and after a time with Goldman Sachs she “stumbled upon” UnLtd where she’s worked in a number of positions before assuming her present role. She finds the company very open to helping people work towards their own career progression, as well as being a fantastic place to work.

Nicola’s seems exactly the type of person you need as a community manager. Describing herself as still a novice to the world of social networking (which she doesn’t see as the be all and end all, just a tool to help people connect) she finds herself enthused by UnLtd’s members – everyone from the award winners to the people who have book clubs about inspiring books or those who paint a wall to make people feel better about their environment.

So, down to brass tacks. Does UnLtdWorld work?

110% says Nicola. From the first step of registration Nicola is added as a member’s contact, helping to make it easier for people still quite unsure about how it works. She’s delighted by how it’s helping people making links and getting connected. She tells me about the UnLtdWorld Scotland group which started with 3 people and is growing quickly with member connections, networking and discussions.

She also tells me of member Roger who is blind, and finds UnLtdWorld the only social network he can use because it’s configured for screen readers and he uses it to exercise and communicate his passion about making the world a better place. Then there’s Dwayne from Sense Magazine who is a key connector on the site and seeks out people to help facilitate introductions and conversation. All voluntary, all contributing to help make it work.

It also allows CEOs from major charities are accessible to fundraisers and start-up entrepreneurs looking for advice and help and contacts.

It’s these type of things, she says, that makes her job worthwhile.

Some of the impressive things that came from our chat for me were:

  • UnLtdWorld is communicating to a targeted audience, people who are already committed and passionate, helping members connect to the right people
  • It has a focus on people, on members and on supporting the UnLtd Award winners
  • Every member is equal. It doesn’t matter if you’re “just a person with an idea” or work for a charity with existing funding and structure in place – every member can contribute equal amounts

On a personal note, I’ve worked with many sites with admirable aspirations who pump loads of money and staff resource into their site, only to miss the fact that it’s about people and not functionality and that the programming and code is rarely as important as the content and engagement by people through the site. Those sites ultimately fail, in respect of what they could have achieved.

I was, therefore, surprised to learn that the total UnLtdWorld team is two developers, a part-time designer and then Alberto (the chief strategist), Nicola and Rachel, the Communications Manager. So why is it working – well this presentation goes into it but I’ll cover that in a later post. On an Irish perspective we have Ammado that seems to be striving to achieve what UnLtdWorld are doing already.

Nicola’s personal passions and aspirations? She hopes to help bring UnLtdWorld to everyone by making it as accessible as possible to everyone – not just those internet savvy but to everyone who wants to make a difference.

It’s about, she says, seeing someone develop their projects, making a difference and producing solutions to problems.

She also speaks movingly about being inspired by the staff and carers at St Francis Hospice in Manchester, a charity offering the families of very sick children a respite from their role as carers and gives the children a loving home from home. She also loves doing the annual Cancer Research run, raising funds for and supporting cancer sufferers and their families.

The UnLtdWorld advertisement I’m currently typing beside reads

Connect, join, find, share, trade, inspire, grow

With people behind it like Nicola, I can see how it helps people to do just that. I’ve signed up (my profile is here) and I look forward to learning a lot more.

I came to the Shine Conference hoping to be inspired. I definitely am.

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Blogs, libraries and conversations

Nick being interviewed by smallbizpodOK, back in the zone: delivered my session on how and why to blog, which went well, with a good mix of established bloggers (step forward Dave Dawes and Rob Greenland), possible bloggers, and those who were coming not knowing a lot. We’ll see how it goes tomorrow and Sunday….no doubt it will improve.

In other news: had some good conversations in various snugs and nooks and crannies. Learnt about a project called BodyGossip, about what a ‘library of needs’ is (photo to follow), and with the ever engaging and knowledgable Jason Mollring from SE squared (South East Social Enterprise Networks). And my colleague Ian Baker has arrived from SSE…and arrived with coffee.

And, breaking news, just been interviewed by Alex Bellinger from SmallBizPod, who’s going to be putting up a podcast in a couple of weeks’ time, which is great: I know Alex has a big and loyal audience on iTunes, so that should help spread the word.

More soon.

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Haringey connections and another moblogger

David Wilcox has been prodigiously videoing away and has been catching up with contributors and attendees alike, here Olivia talks about how she wants to make connections and take ideas back to where she works in Haringey

I’ve also caught up with another moblogger Dave Dawes, from a social enterprise which supports nurse entrepreneurs and social entrepreneurs in health who has already posted his impressions of the first session he went to:

Well I have finally arrived and this is definitely a very quirky event 🙂 It has the wonderfully quirky feel that large gatherings of social entrepreneurs tend to have. We have this badges with coloured spots on that would have far more use for me if it wasn’t for my colour-blindness!

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A candle SHINING in the darkness

I admit it, I’m a chancer.

My name is Darragh (hello there, nice to ‘meet’ you :)) and in Ireland I’m what I call an internet storyteller – I like the stories of people, of brands, of what they do and how they try to make a difference. But, I’m not a social entrepreneur.

I mean Social Entrepreneurs are the ones working in the ‘third’ sector, with NGOs and charities and who are out there seeking funding, campaigning for different causes and actively negotiating with governments and corporations for active change, right? They’re the ones with the websites and business cards and volunteers and networks.

I mean social entrepreneurs aren’t the ‘ordinary’ people – the ones who are just trying to make where they live a bit nicer, who are negotiating with the local council about the security of their neghbourhood, or the ones who decide to swim to raise money for Marie Curie Cancer Care or help out with the local scouts or set up support groups for charities or volunteer to look after kids for a summer now are they?

A blogger writing about campaigns for a better healthcare system or highlighting problems with government legislation or a campaign for blood donations to help people with cancer surely isn’t a social entrepreneur, eh?

Well actually, it’s all of us. And I hope to be able to share that with you.

Arriving from Dublin last night I had personal apprehensions about my presence at Shine. Would I understand what was going on? Had I anything to contribute? Would people be interested in talking to someone who isn’t an active fundraiser or campaigner or volunteer about what they were doing? Would I just be the one faint spark in a sea of lighthouses?

And very quickly I found out something.

As long as you are passionate about making a change, that you want to make a difference in the world, in your country, in your community, in your office or in your life, and as long as you’re willing to actively share that with people then you are a social entrepreneur and events and collaborations like Shine are exactly for you and for me.

I always say better to light a candle than curse the darkness. In one of my favourite poems What is Success by Ralph Waldo Emerson are the following, very relevant lines:

…To find the best in others;
To leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch or a redeemed social condition;
To know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived;
This is to have succeeded.

Thanks to the lovely Nicola from UnLtd World I’m online (I wasn’t intelligent enough to bring my laptop) so I hope to be able to update you throughout the weekend!

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Shine begins: things are happening….

So, things are off and running here at Shine. After what might diplomatically be called ‘teething troubles’ at the front desk, everyone is in and sessions kicked off virtually on time. There’s a real buzz currently in the Future Cafe where Nick Jankel-Elliott of Disruptive Social Innovators is holding court….and here in the Marketplace, We Inspire Others are doing a leaders workshop touching on emotional intelligence and different types of leadership skills (and traits).

Some people made it about as far as the Snug on the first floor and sat down to have a chat and a read, while others were most keen to “find the coffee”. These are my kind of people, and I’m joining them where the caffeine takes me.

Next up, I’m running a session on ‘how and why to blog’ in the Pharmacy. It’s web 2.0 medicine, people. Here’s the slideshow for you: