Final version of my film of the Cambridge Buskers Festival 2014

Summary

I’m strangely proud of this – for being proud of work I’ve done is an emotion I rarely feel.

Here it is:

Visually it’s not perfect – I’m still trying to figure out what happened in the conversion process that blurred it. I chose to go with the audio from Cobario’s album rather than with the audio footage I filmed. The track is called ‘Showdown’ and is available on iTunes.

“Why proud?”

I think it’s because it’s something I never saw in myself. My early digital video commissions were the result of my lack of digital video editing skills. We didn’t actually do much editing in the evening class I took recently. The focus – and I think rightly so – was on filming good clips. As a couple of the books on the subject have said that you cannot compensate at the editing stage for poor filming/positioning.

At the same time, the whole experience has got me thinking differently – and learning differently too. This was something I hadn’t really comprehended before. In the case of the filming, it’s learning a little and regularly. In the case of editing, there were a number of barriers that I came up against with the editing software that involved various searches to overcome. The perfectionist in me wants to work on the blurring of the footage which seems to have come before the compressing stage but after the filming stage.

The difference this entire project seems to have made is that I’m experimenting with software in the manner a creative type (such as my sister) would do, rather than expecting everything to work first time every time. This one got her nominated for the Next Director Award 2014.

One for owners of four-legged friends? Her other video work is here. Recognise any from telly?

 

 

Posted in Cambridge, Music, Social media | 1 Comment

Cambridge Buskers Festival blows the roof off

Summary

Musicians took to the streets and pubs of Cambridge – making young children curious, the beer-drinking lads sing, middle-aged women dance, and some old men cry. Some of the best performances were that powerful.

I’ve just completed a weekend of filming for the Cambridge Buskers Festival 2014 – ****Thank you**** to Lulu and Heather for giving me my first paid commission (mentioned in my previous blogpost) and also to all the musicians, their friends and families – and also to the landlords and proprietors in Cambridge that gave me permission to film in their premises. (Six Bells, Earl of Beaconsfield and D’Arrys get honourable mentions – as does Simon Fraser of Hot Numbers Coffee who is always happy for me to film there. Oh, and he’s opening a new coffee house opposite the Fitzwilliam Museum!)

Tom Korni wins the ‘Best Busker’ award

As well as impressing the judges, he blew the roof off of the Earl of Beaconsfield with a superb finale – ably prepared by the trio from Vienna, Cobario. The latter’s final track here gives you a feel of the atmosphere.

By the time Tom’s session came round, my upgraded camcorder (which I’ve nicknamed ‘the beast’ because although impressive, it’s taking time to tame!) had run out of battery power and had packed up my filming kit. I filmed his performance at the Six Bells earlier in the afternoon – one that had little children dancing and old men with moist eyes when he sang a cover of Led Zeppelin’s ‘Stairway to heaven’. Such were the quality of his final two tracks – ‘I will wait’ by Mumford and Sons, and his own final track ‘Teenage Lover’ that I recorded the audio. Have a listen.

In terms of sheer energy, those were the two acts that really stood out amongst what was a very talented field. Despite running around filming and listening over the three days, I only got to see about a quarter of the acts taking part – such is the nature of street music festivals. Yet everyone who took part played an important part. It’s like building a bridge with lots of big shaped blocks of rock – you need them all otherwise the bridge collapses.

It wasn’t all energy and passion at 100% though. The artists on the whole were very good at judging mood of the audience as well as the ambience of the venue they were in – as Dave Holmes demonstrates in the courtyard of D’Arrys on King Street.

It was a lazy Saturday lunchtime, and he got the tone just right. Funnily enough, not long after Dave’s performance, Classycool turned up and showed everyone how to make classical music fun and accessible.

Young women conspicuous by their musical presence

Rachel Clark had her work cut out in this expose spot by Drummer Street bus station – just as my kit did with the wind and the background audience. As you can see, Rachel was unfazed by it all.

Like Tom and my other favourite young musical act, Grace Sarah, Rachel has also just finished her GCSEs. Which also reminds me, another brilliant young musician of a similar age is Ellie Dixon, who just uploaded a better quality recording of ‘Going Places’ that she performed at The Junction, supporting Grace Sarah and friends. What’s great about all of them is they are experimenting and pushing the boundaries with music and social media. Have a look/listen to Ellie’s cover of ‘I need a dollar’.

How many of us would have had the imagination to have created percussion that way?

Some really positive lessons learnt for lots of people

Loss of council funding need not be a barrier

Although a blow, the buskers festival this year seemed to have a more noticeable presence than last year. That or I happened to be in a more receptive frame of mind being on the lookout for interesting people to film. Well done to Heather, Lulu and the team for putting together a splendid festival. Personally I think the local mainstream media should be doing a feature on all of you for organising this.

Cambridge businesses: There’s a sponsorship opportunity here. A BIG one.

Given the positive vibes that come from things like this, local businesses should be jumping at the chance to sponsor this in future years. Cafes, bars and restaurants that have ideal spots for buskers could be making them available – even if it means the loss of a table or two. If you’re not full anyway, it’s not as if you’re losing custom – as was the case with one or two of them on Saturday. Giraffe for example should have welcomed Rachel to one of their unfilled outdoor table spaces. It would have given a better acoustic for her, been closer to the benches outside and would have made it easier to record the audio.

Pubs, bars and restaurants

The standard of artists booked for the festival was very high. It’ll get higher. Open your premises to them for next years festival.

Buskers: If you are singing, you need a microphone and an amplifier for your voice

I learnt this for myself earlier on Parker’s Piece with the Dowsing Sound Collective – see my blogpost here. I couldn’t hear myself sing because there was nothing for my voice to bounce off. The same is likely to be the case with you if you are singing in an open space. Furthermore, when it comes to recording, people recording you on smartphones will not be able to hear your voice. Having an amplifier for voice and for your instrument means that the volume for both can be equalised. This significantly improves the quality of audio that your audience listening and recording on smartphones get. If it comes through well on the latter, you’re onto a winner.

Buskers: Make sure you’ve got a laminated poster stating who you are and how people can get in touch online – ideally Facebook, Twitter and a website

It makes it easier for people who liked your music to stay in touch with you – and even book you or buy some of your music. The number of parents of performers who said they had been booked for weddings, family events and other future performances as a result of being heard at the festival was astonishing. Make it easy for new fans to get and stay in touch.

Organisers: Let’s have an evaluation meeting on what worked this year and what we can improve on for next year

Because ***lots*** of things worked for everyone this year. There will always be things that we could do better than we had wished. It’d be worth asking the buskers and the venues that hosted some of them what would make things easier for them. The question that’s worth thinking about for next year is on making digital and social media work for the public and the buskers. There’s huge potential in it for everyone. On the Saturday alone I had uploaded film footage of four of the artists. Tom Korni today makes that five, and it’ll be expanding further over the next week as I edit and upload more footage.

Me as a cameraperson

That was cracking good fun, wasn’t it? I got to meet lots of new people and make some new friends too. I got to meet several people for the first time who I had previously only corresponded with on social media, and also raised my own profile – ironically being behind the camera rather than in front of it!

This was also a big challenge for me. Whenever someone pays you (no matter how small the amount) to do something, it changes the relationship – for better or worse. In this case for both parties, the better. Had I not bumped into the organisers outside The Guildhall on Friday, I’d have probably filmed less than half the number of people I did today and would have missed out on some cracking performances & new friendships. Though the organisers might have picked up one or two tracks I filmed, they wouldn’t have had the stream of social and digital media coming in from me running around town to the extent that I did with the commission.

It was also the impetus to upgrade some of my kit – but not to the really expensive extent the man from the electrical’s warehouse was urging me to get to. Also, several of the musicians and their families said the quality that was coming from my cameraphone was excellent. This makes it a really useful emergency backup when the battery on the main camera runs out. This weekend has been a splendid learning exercise amongst other things.

And you know what?

I came away from the buskers party with a big smile on my face. Now, given that I’m an intense person at the best of times, getting a smile out of me – a genuine one, takes something special. On one side, there was me having lots of fun filming many very talented musicians, and on the other there were people thanking me and genuinely appreciating what I’m doing – filming and sharing. But what really made me smile was watching longtime regulars at some of Cambridge pubs all responding with a heartwarming embrace to the musicians. This wasn’t the ‘polite applause’ you get when a group has finished their performance. This was standing ovations stuff.

On my walk back home, I noticed how the trees were blocking out the streetlights. And for the first time in ages, I could see the stars in the sky.

Reach for the stars – because you might just reach the tops of the trees. And the view from there is just as good. And with that I’ll leave you with Tom Korni’s version of Stairway to Heaven.

 

Posted in Cambridge, Events I have been to, Music, Social media | Leave a comment

My first digital video commission – and employers overlooking digital skills young people have

Summary

It may only be a ‘micro-commission’, but for me it’s a giant leap on all things digital media. But are employers missing out on the skills that today’s school leavers have developed growing up in this internet age?

If someone had said to me in January 2014 that I’d be taking on my first digital video commission in about six months time…exactly. But then I’d have said the same thing about Puffles standing for election (& getting 89 votes – described by polling guru Phil Rodgers as ‘respectable‘) and Puffles appearing in a Basement Jaxx video with some of the nicest musicians in Cambridge. Then there’s all things Be the change – Cambridge where the pace organisationally is picking up, even though ticket sales thus far have been much lower than I had hoped for in the first week since going public with the ticket sales site. But we’ve got a solid plan to turn this around that doesn’t involve me sending out lots of repeated social media posts.

Getting into digital video

Some of you will be aware of the greater number of videos embedded into recent posts – in particular ones that I’ve filmed. Apart from curiosity, watching other parts of England taking to community reporting using digital video while Cambridge remained stuck in the dark ages started to annoy me in early 2014. Cambridgeshire’s community website Shape Your Place has the capabilities to embed Youtube videos but hardly anyone was making any. Finding out the only local evening class on introducing people to digital video got cancelled due to lack of interest didn’t make me any happier. Had it gone ahead, chances are me and Puffles would have got up to far more mischief in the election campaign than we actually did!

"***Hai!*** I iz meejah!" Puffles with Green Party Leader Natalie Bennett in Cambridge for the launch of the Green Party's East of England manifesto for the Euro 2014 elections

“***Hai!*** I iz meejah!” Puffles with Green Party Leader Natalie Bennett in Cambridge for the launch of the Green Party’s East of England manifesto for the Euro 2014 elections

 

Instead you got me and Puffles learning the hard way just how limited our little camcorder was compared to the stuff the broadcast journalists had. It’s still the case now – the footage on my phone more than matches what the camcorder picks up. This video I filmed for the Cambridge Buskers Festival (who have kindly awarded me the commission) gives an idea of the quality you can achieve with a smartphone.

Actually, this is quite fun!

For a start, it gets you out of the house. It gets you meeting people. It gets you learning by doing. And thus far, people presenting, speaking at community meetings or doing artistic or musical public performance have appreciated what I’m doing for them. After all, it’s not me in front of the camera. It’s someone far more talented! It’s only recently that I’ve started noticing the social side of things.

But how do you move up to the next level without spending a fortune?

The man at one of the larger electrical outlets in Cambridge insisted that to do what I wanted to do involved spending a couple of grand (that I’ll never have this side of 2020) on a stupendously expensive camera not much smaller than Puffles. Without repeating my blogpost on choice and camerasthere is a ****massive**** market failure for consumers. That market failure is the almost infinite amount of choice out there for buyers with a limited understanding of what they are buying and a limited amount of time to read up about their purchases. The market is failing to ensure buyers are making informed choices and know what they are buying.

The one that made me go ***Wow!*** was this one. The pocket battleship of digital video cameras. It was Carl Winberg who pointed me in that direction – someone with far more expertise in this field than me! Now, although I can’t see myself accessorising something like that to the max, the design that merely enables this is phenomenal. Something to aspire to several years down the line perhaps? But not now.

“No – really. How do you move up to the next level?”

I’m still trying to work that one out. Although learning all the time, everything has become very complex very quickly. It’s one thing filming, working out where the best angle is accounting for light, wind and background noise. It’s quite another thing editing – whether the video or (from my point of view more importantly) the audio. The perfectionist in me wants to get this to standards far higher than my skills and equipment are capable of.

Is mobile video the future?

I did a quick straw poll at Model Westminster which I was a volunteer facilitator at recently. (See here). This was an event aimed at students from their final year of secondary school to recent graduates. The way many of them are using social media is much more ‘in your face’ – literally – Snapchat being conspicuous by the number of people mentioning and using it. Most importantly, they are more than comfortable creating their own video content. Shy in front of the camera this lot were not.

The skills mismatch again

This was in the news again. Yet what I’ve noticed – and I’ve spoken to a number of business owners about this – is that too much of the business world is not set up to harness the digital skills that many young people now see as the norm. The tragedy is that the potential of both is being lost. Firms don’t see young people for the skills they do have, but the skills they do not. Despite studying for what the system points them towards, too many young people find themselves turned down for too many jobs.

To help resolve this, there needs to be a significant cultural and attitude change from the generations that are in positions of power and influence. In November 2013 I had a number of exchanges with local councillors about social media skills in local government. You can read some of the councillors’ responses here. That’s not to say these are their views now. People and priorities change with time and new experiences. From a political perspective, the 2015 general election may well see a spike in the number of older people using social media to engage with candidates. As any trainee teacher will tell you, one of the most important part of the learning process is reflection on the journey you’ve travelled down.

As for my path ahead?

If it’s there, I can’t see it. It’s very different to say 2006 when it was crystal clear: An internal civil service transfer to London come hell or high water – a path trodden by a number of my contemporaries before me. But then perhaps that’s the point. This time around with the technology being so new and progressing at a very fast rate, perhaps the path hasn’t been beaten out from the undergrowth.

It reminds me of the cub scout camps we went to when we were little, just outside Cambridge. Upon arrival in part of the woodlands we’d face a wall of stinging nettles taller than us. By the time the camp was over, many a path had been beaten through them. Maybe that’s what I’m doing now metaphorically: beating a path through those stinging nettles – and getting stung or pricked by the thistles and brambles along the way. But it’s only when you stop, look round and reflect that you see the path you’ve created.

Posted in Business economics and finance, Cambridge, Education, training and exams, Employment and job hunting, Puffles, Social media | 1 Comment

Is social media becoming less sociable and more about broadcasting?

Summary

A welcome reality check from a fellow social media trainer – and comparing my own experience of the past year or so with what might be happening generally

Suzy Ashworth is local to me and was one of Puffles’ earliest followers. One thing I’ve found with my fellow social media trainers is that most of us specialise in its application in a given field. For me it started off in public policy before morphing into community action. Looking at my blogstats, the number of Twitter followers for Puffles seems to be inversely proportional to the hits my blogposts are getting. Perhaps a reflection of the fewer party-political/current affairs posts and a greater number of Cambridge-based posts? Perhaps.

Separating Puffles from me

I’m now using @ACarpenDigital for conversations around work-related things. Furthermore, I’m also co-running @BeTheChangeCam for the big event on 13th September. I’ve now rebranded Puffles’ feed as a policy and politics newsfeed. This has allowed a number of users that found Puffles’ retweets overwhelming (understandably so) to stay in touch with me on an account that otherwise posts only a handful of tweets on any one day. Deliberately so. What was nice to hear from Suzy was genuine positive feedback about Puffles’ achievements from someone in a similar field. What I also found interesting was how we were coming to similar conclusions about how social media is evolving and maturing (if you can call it that) from what it was say a couple of years ago.

A torrent of hatreds

In recent months I’ve noticed a sharp rise in the number of aggressive posts being retweeted into my social media feeds. In what has been quite an exciting summer inside Cambridge for me compared to all of the ones since my return from London, news from beyond the city’s borders has been a depressing backdrop. It’s been one that has polarised opinions on a number of conflicts across a swathe of the planet – a firestorm that all the water in the Pacific Ocean cannot quell.

I can understand the sense of anger and powerlessness more than a few of us feel. During my university days, I was that angry emotional firework of a person – my issue being the IMF & World Bank and the global debt crisis that was often in the news in 2000/2001. I wasn’t the easiest person to have a conversation with when in angry mode (who is?), and so shy away from conversations that get too heated. Perhaps I see in such exchanges a side of me that I don’t like. At the same time, are more people shying away because things are getting too noisy?

Fewer shared experiences and observations beyond Cambridge?

Fewer shared observations given that I’m not commenting as much on national/international politics and public policy. On the former, I feel either I’ve said everything I want to in previous blogposts or feel completely powerless to stop bad things happening so refrain from commenting lest I find myself in a social media argument. As the saying goes, if you get into an argument with a fool…exactly. My other feeling is that if all the world’s diplomats can’t sort out these problems, then what impact is little ol’ me and my dragon fairy gonna have? Hence going for my current approach of thinking global but acting local. Aim for a positive impact where I’m most likely to achieve it. At the same time though, why would anyone outside Cambridge who has no link with the place be that interested in the detailed goings on here?

Me, me, me.

Now that I think about it, there’s a growing theme of ‘this is what I have done/seen/been to’ rather than ‘this is my analysis of something happening today that might not have been picked up by the media’ blogposts. At the same time, this feels like a natural evolution of the direction I’m sailing in. I’ve been out of the civil service for more than three years and feel far less qualified to talk about what’s going on in public policy circles than say two years ago.

The fact is I’m not in London nearly regularly enough to have my ear to the ground on what the mood is. There is only so much you can do training and giving advice without refreshing your learning and going back to being a practitioner/do-er in something. I took this away from the Sookio Masterclasses in Cambridge – where Sue Keogh has developed a talent for sourcing social media practitioners (rather than trainers) to share their learning. I.e. the people that run corporate social media accounts. Hence insights from the commercial world have been fascinating.

More diverse content of interest to fewer people?

For example the people at or who would like to have gone to community workshops or to simply see/hear what happened, have given very positive feedback on all things audio and video. With that in mind, it’s less about me and more about whoever is in front of the camera – such as the brilliant Rachael Johnson who I saw earlier this evening.

As you can see, my vintage camcorder was really showing its limitations despite Simon’s best efforts with the lighting! I tried playing around with the audio on some more advanced software to reduce the background chatter and to amplify the bass. Have a listen on SoundCloud to see if it made much difference. Again, I’m still a complete beginner on filming and editing, but with every filming session I go to, I’m always learning something new. (Today it was ‘OMGz – this new tripod is ***wonderful!!!*** – much lighter, more compact, more flexible and can extend further than old one). Normally it’s something very small, but it’s a practical way of learning that I’ve not really been used to: self-learning through unguided experiments. There’s something liberating about that. But at the same time, I’m still an unwilling lone ranger producing content for broadcast rather than conversation.

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Roots

Summary

Looking deeper into the findings by Relate that one in ten of us do not have a close friend

The headline in The Guardian is here. The full report by Relate is here. (Note it’s good practice when blogging in response to a newspaper headline to provide links to the original source the article is based on – as newspapers often overlook this). There’s also an interesting thread on loneliness in The Guardian here. I’ve blogged about loneliness as a public policy issue here (in late 2013 – subsequently picked up by Labour MP Tom Watson who wrote about the issue in The Sunday Mirror newspaper) and my personal experiences soon after leaving the civil service three years ago (see here).

How we live and where we live

A recurring theme from the comments I’ve seen posted online is about shared experiences and regular contact with people who you have positive things in common. All of these seem to be common factors in reducing feelings of loneliness. When I compare them to my own life experiences, I can see where the gaps are. I may have had regular contact with people at work, but we didn’t have shared experiences. I may have had shared experiences with some people, but didn’t see them regularly. Where I had both of the first two, I didn’t have many things in common beyond one or two hobbies – such as dancing.

Combine that with the sort of housing that is being built. Rabbit-hutch Britain. Gated developments. The closing down of public buildings and community centres. Furthermore, combine this with increased instability in the workplace. The rise of zero-hour contracts – fine for bosses but how can you plan ahead if you don’t know how much you’ll be earning next week? House prices and rent costs completely out of sync with salaries and wages – what would society look like if both were much lower? What would society look like if you could meet your essential expenses with a little bit to spare working a four day rather than a five day week? What about the increasing distances (and time taken) to commute to work?

‘What is there for those of us in our 30s-50s in Cambridge who have no children or who are not part of Cambridge University?’

I was asked this question by a couple of people earlier this summer. It got me thinking because before I moved to London, I had a very vibrant social life in Cambridge. In my mid 20s I never felt out of place at student events – it was only a couple of years previously that I was a postgraduate myself. Fast-forward a decade or so and having attended a recent talk, I remembered feeling distinctly…’out of place’. In the discussion, we noted that there were people trying to self-organise – eg this Meetup group (and note the numbers). Yet as this comment in response to my last blog states, rising land values in Cambridge are making things very difficult for community groups to find decent premises.

What can local institutions do?

This tweet caught my attention recently

It got me thinking about what I did and didn’t do in my late teens. I still assumed that adults – and more importantly local institutions either didn’t get things wrong or could not be influenced. It’s easy to look back and say I should have switched subjects, classes, teachers or even institutions – but not when you put yourself in the context of that mindset at the time.

For those not aware, I’ve been snapping at the heels of various institutions for quite some time – Be the change – Cambridge being the culmination of a lot of this work. My view is that local institutions in Cambridge can have an indirect yet significant impact on reducing loneliness and isolation. This was something that was picked up in a workshop I went to for adult education tutors run by Cambridgeshire County Council. As me and Ceri Jones are running a 10 week course called An introduction to social media for social action at Parkside in Cambridge we were invited to what was an enlightening workshop with other tutors. Visualising the collective impact of all of us was what I took away from that workshop – as well as thinking how we could increase that impact.

Roots not chains. Wings to fly with strong branches to land on

The above song by folk group Show of Hands is one I stumbled across a few years ago. They wrote this in response to Labour minister Kim Howells’ comments from 2001 (see here). That plus the group were at the forefront of stopping political extremists from hijacking folk music for their own ends (see here).

In my case, I was never able to settle in either Brighton or London after leaving Cambridge. In the nearly two months I spend in Vienna in 2006, I asked myself if it was a city I could imagine myself living or working in, in what was the future. Again the answer was ‘no’. In those days I always pictured myself of moving out of Cambridge permanently. Today, I can’t see that happening. Hence going back to some of my childhood roots to shape my own future – and that of my home town. And at the same time, confronting my own demons whether they be mental health ones or loneliness & isolation ones.

The principle of the subheading ‘roots not chains, wings to fly and strong branches to land on’ is about a balance between having a place called home with a supportive community, and the ability to move as and when you feel you need to. In my case, too many local institutions were chains, not roots. At the same time, while I was able to metaphorically fly to Brighton and London, I couldn’t find strong enough branches to land on. I wonder how many new arrivals to Cambridge experience some of the feelings I felt when moving to Brighton and London? Hence for me the importance of strengthening community groups.

And finally…?

Back to the Relate report, the scale of the findings indicates a possible public policy response. What I don’t know is what that response should be, and which people or institutions could lead on that response.

Posted in Cambridge, Charities and Big Society, Mental health | Leave a comment

Romsey Rollerbillies Rock – and they need our support

Summary

A pulsating afternoon of sport on eight wheels with one of Cambridge’s best-kept sporting secrets – a women’s sports club we in Cambridge could be giving far greater support to

I’d never been to a roller derby match before – despite having childhood friends being passionate skaters. I’ve still got a pair of rollerblades in my room gathering dust somewhere. Watching the Romsey Rollerbillies (they are here) and their opponents gliding round the room made me want to get my skates on again. (Problem is where to go in Cambridge – something I’ll come back to). Have a look at this short clip I filmed.

The skater to keep an eye on is Suffolk’s No22 wearing pink and white, with the nom de sport ‘Miss Behave’. Each of the participants in the sport adopts such a persona with the name emblazoned on the back of their shirts. If you’re wondering what the rules are, they are here.

‘We’re playful, but don’t mess with us!’

That was a theme that resonated throughout the afternoon. These women are hard as steel. Given the bumps and bruises you get from this sport – and the ease and speed they got up soon after falling over had me in awe. Not least because when I’ve fallen over on rollerblades, it has hurt. Badly! This is not a sport for premier league footballers. Also, everything at the end was good-natured, despite the very physical nature of the competition.

What struck me about the matches was how the skaters could move with the ease and grace of a ballerina across the floor, then instantaneously switch into a different mindset and crash through a wall of opponents trying to impede them. The much-needed padding on wrists, elbows and knees, along with the accessorising of clothing and sporting war-paint made you take notice.

Tactics

It took time for me to get a feel for what was going on, but once I had picked up the individual on each side their opponents were trying to stop, it began to make sense. With the more experienced teams playing second, the difference in organisation and co-ordination was marked. The officiating was done as with other sports through whistles and sign language – the latter being much more clear and explicit than what you see in football. Something to learn from?

Game 1: Cambridge Rollerbillies vs Granite City Roller Girls (Aberdeen)

All of the women were competent on their skates. The similarity I found with dancing is that body shape and physique didn’t seem to be a determining factor as to how good an individual was.  As this was my first match watching, I didn’t really know what to look out for, so the 398-89 win for Cambridge didn’t feel to me as a new viewer to be one that I could easily say: ‘Yeah – they played their opponents off the park’. The other thing I struggled to spot were the judgement calls on sin-bin penalties. One minute a skater would be gliding around the hall, the next they’d be in the sin bin. Hence homework for my next match is to learn the referees’ signals. (There are several referees – all on wheels). Here’s a clip from the match.

Game 2: Cambridge Blockabillies vs Suffolk Roller Derby

Suffolk came out for the warm up on a mission. Their outfits, their body language, their warm ups and facial expressions demonstrated this. But then so did Cambridge. You got the sense that this was going to be a clash between two well-drilled sides. And it was. When skaters were inevitably sent to the sin bin, the side with the numerical advantage were ruthless in exploiting it. When you have over half your team in the sin bin, two vs five – even for 30 seconds feels like much much longer.

The variety of moves the jammers (the one player on each side that tries to score points by passing their opponents) used was noticeably greater than in the previous game. The same went for the defences/blockers too. I’ve never seen so many people so nimble on pairs of rollerskates. You anticipate a jammer who has built up speed will plough into a wall of blockers, but just as they are about to, they turn 90 degrees ‘Cruyff-turn-style’ and completely outwit four opponents before heading on their way – with four points in the bag.

Learning to be ‘as one’ with the camcorder

This was probably the most enjoyable filming session I’ve ever had with this camcorder – one where I’ve got some footage that is the result of conscious continuous decisions I was taking as I filmed rather than relying on the technology to do the leg work. In the first videoclip above, the part between 0m30s and 0m40s is the bit where I tracked the subject (i.e. ‘Miss Behave’) moving the camera while zooming in and out as she skated towards then away from the camera.

The view from the scoreboard end

The view from the scoreboard end

 

This was where I did most of my filming from during the two matches. This is a panorama taken from my cameraphone. The crowd are to the right, the scoreboard, commentators and first aiders are on my side. The track is denoted by the yellow-and-black tape you can just make out in the foreground. That said, we were rightly warned to stay out of the way lest we got clobbered. Fortunately none of us did – we heeded their advice.

Romsey Rollerbillies need our help

August 2010: the Rollerbillies become the first league in the UK to have their own venue, a beautiful warehouse nicknamed The Spandex Palace. In 2012 the warehouse was demolished, and the Rollerbillies now use practice venues in and around Cambridge

What is it with Cambridge demolishing, leaving vacant or underusing buildings that could be used by so many community groups?

The announcers made appeals for sponsorship and support. Cambridge Womens Football Club have made the same. The ground they used to play at is no longer available, so they are having to play in Ely – over 10 miles up the road and on the other side of a completely different city. Women of Cambridge deserve so much better. If you are interested in joining or sponsoring either of the above teams, see Romsey Rollerbillies here, and Cambridge Women’s Football Club here.

And if you’re interested in improving the choice of sports and activities in Cambridge, and the sustainability of clubs that offer them…

Join us at Anglia Ruskin University for Be the change – Cambridge on Saturday 13 September – see http://bethechangecambridge.org.uk/?page_id=83 for more details

Posted in Cambridge, Events I have been to, Public administration & policy, Social media, Sport | 2 Comments

Community learning as an alternative to expensive courses

Summary

Some thoughts on how to make learning opportunities available to more people at a time when fees are rising.

I’ve been looking around for some training courses on all things digital media of late. It’s that time of year with the new academic calendar looming. Yet this year seems to be the first where I’ve really felt my age (mid-30s) when looking around for daytime courses. That plus the cost of retraining is becoming increasingly prohibitive in these constrained times.

Price, timing and accessibility

For the corporate market, you are looking at paying over £400 for a one day course on digital media. Despite the wide selection in this case, the prices are prohibitive. We don’t have the equivalent of a ‘CityLit’ that they have in London. Or a Birkbeck for that matter – they have an excellent selection of short courses. Ditto the Media Trust here. All of these require a journey down to London on my part.

Cambridge ‘as is’ simply isn’t united or big enough at the moment to sustain the sort of programs I’ve linked above. But given improved public transport links along with the housing growth that is happening and projected over the next decade, I can’t see that remaining the case. I’ve also commented on the fragmented nature of publicising things in Cambridge – whether learning courses, entertainment or public consultations.

Community learning

I hosted a workshop at UKGovCamp 2014 about this in a digital skills context – see my blogpost and screenshots here. The diversity in our working group meant that I came away learning far more than I had anticipated. I also became aware of problems that I didn’t even know existed – such as some people being unwilling to take part in workshops or courses because they were being hosted in schools – bringing back bad memories.

“Build a massive community centre instead to integrate all the estates”

Pauline Pearce talking about gentrification in London here. I’d love to see the building below in Cambridge turned into something like this – one where town and gown can mix & interact.

The old bingo hall that has remained unused for far longer than is sensible

The old bingo hall that has remained unused for far longer than is sensible

One of the things I hope will emerge from Be the change – Cambridge (plug-plug-plug!) is a group of people who will push for this to be brought back into use – one that is as diverse as it is active. In particular, one that can put pressure on the colleges and Cambridge University. From what I’ve seen across a number of fields, there is hidden demand for affordable informal community learning. From Sookio’s excellent social media master classes to Transition Cambridge’s buzzing practical gatherings, there is a desire for people to come together, socialise and make our lives just that little bit easier & more interesting.

Are there some things you become too old to do by your mid-30s?

I think there was only one player in England’s 2014 World Cup squad older than me. The sort of commentary I grew up with is summarised by this lovely compilation put together by The Lightning Seeds with the now defunct ‘Goal Magazine’ in autumn 1995 – subsequently released as a B-side to ‘What If?’. Recently, walking back through Coleridge Rec there were some kids playing football. As is always the case, the ball went far out of bounds of their pitch, flying through the air in my direction. One touch, controlling the ball in mid-air with the outside of my right foot, sending it back towards one of them who ran to collect the ball. Yep. Still. Got. It. Fitness may be temporary, but the instinct is permanent when it comes to the beautiful game I guess. I said similar with ballroom dancing: dance technique may be temporary, but floorcraft is permanent ;-)

It’s one thing having a kick-about, something I’d still love to do, but quite another where you are being properly trained and coached. Think about swimming lessons for adults. Even though from a certain age we go past our physical peak, isn’t there room for learning a new skill that involves physical movement long after our physical peak? If there is – and I think there is having seen older dancers go from being beginners to being competent dancers, are we providing the opportunities? Personally I’d love to get back into football where I’m learning new things, but being in my mid-30s…exactly.

But then…learning doesn’t have to involve a course or a qualification

Puffles in a Basement Jaxx video. You read that correctly.

Everything I’ve done with the Dowsing Sound Collective has been as far removed from rigid syllabuses as I can think in a musical context. It’s why I challenged a number of music teachers to do what Andrea’s doing with DSC for musical instruments generally. The Duxford Workshop already does this outside of Cambridge – see here. It’s always useful to have examples to point towards. The problem I’ve had is with wider audiences. There are lots of wonderful examples of small to medium scale groups and societies doing wonderful things. The bit Cambridge historically has struggled with in my experience is scaling up.

Why does scaling up matter?

The first is sustainability. The second is inspiration. The third is the future of Cambridge

Sustainability

Can we increase the financial sustainability of community groups (at a time when council grants are being cut)? I think we can – certainly in and around Cambridge. In a ‘steady state’ Cambridge, many groups and organisations could probably cope as they are. The problem is that Cambridge is growing and costs of living/operating are rising. So how can they adapt?

Inspiration

For me it’s very easy to relate to the opposite of this. In my case, secondary school and church almost killed any passion for music during my teens. This is why everything I’ve done in 2014 with the Dowsing Sound Collective has been … just … ***Wow***

It doesn’t mean everything has to be scaled up. Cambridge Carbon Footprint’s projects work at a ‘friends in a living room’ level with sustainable living. It’s the ‘think global, act local’ mindset – but knowing you’re part of something greater than the sum of your parts. Not everything has to be on stage in front of hundreds. But can we combine a sense of excitement and dynamism that keeps us going through the more mundane but essential activities that need doing? Because with past volunteering activities, it was the energy from the exciting things (eg the grand balls) that made cycling across town in the cold windy rain for a late night committee meetings worthwhile.

The future of Cambridge

This brings me back to the points I made at the start of this blogpost. Cambridge is growing – whether we like it or not. This means that larger community activities previously too big for the city are now no longer so. My challenge to the institutions is whether they are prepared for the demands a growing population will put on them. Given the number of local politicians that’ll be in listening mode at Be the change Cambridge, (they have a code of conduct we’ve drafted for them!) it’ll be interesting to see what follow-up actions from the institutions will come from it.

‘Why is it that children get all the fun?’

This was a question put to me by a couple of acquaintances. Why don’t we have the equivalent of Duke of Edinburgh or National Citizen Service? Good question. In Cambridge our universities put on summer schools for international students with wealthy parents (along with much-welcomed Sutton Trust schemes), but why don’t we have well-publicised equivalents for adults? What would a 2-4 week ‘transformational summer school’ look like? ie one where you could learn new work skills, life skills and have a physical work out at the same time? Why be stuck in a 9-5 rut?

A classroom isn’t always the best space for learning

I’ve got an old pair of rollerblades in my room. I want to go skating again. I want to learn how to stop on them. Is a small cluttered classroom a suitable environment to learn how to do this? No. In Cambridge, we have the spaces. I’ve seen them with my own eyes. Can we open them up to the people who make this great city?

No one can accuse me of not trying

;-)

 

 

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What should the relationship be between local community reporters & trained journalists?

Summary

Some thoughts following some bedtime reading and a radio interview with Cambridge 105 – in the context of a new law passed on reporting on council meetings

The announcement of the new regulations is here – Parliament having approved these. Earlier this week, Julian Clover of community radio station Cambridge 105FM invited me into the studios primarily to talk about Be The Change – Cambridge. That was prior to the announcement being made about the change in the law. Given that I’m one of the people directly affected by the law due to live-tweeting and now filming meetings, we had a discussion about the new regulations as well. Still being a novice with digital video, I chose to film the discussion on my phone – mainly for my own learning but also to raise awareness that people can film council meetings if there was any doubt before.

The Twitter exchanges in this link show there was some uncertainty about live tweeting from meetings. Either way, this has now been cleared up by the new regulations, and situations such as the one Richard Taylor found himself in in the clip below, will become things of the past.

The rise of the community reporter

One of the things Julian Clover and I discussed off-air was the link between the media and community reporters. In the case of Cambridge 105FM, they are a not-for-profit organisation relying heavily on volunteers, membership fees and donations. (See here). As a station that serves Cambridge and not much further on the FM frequency (due to the conditions of their radio licence), having close community links is essential – as is their subscription to IRN’s national news feed.

In Cambridge 105FM’s case, Julian said having residents/community reporters summarising what happened at council meetings through podcasts or voice memos, or even interviewing individual councillors for short 30 second soundbites would be a great help to the station and the wider community. In principle I agree. After all, I’m experimenting with this very thing myself as this audioclip shows.

Community reporting and local democracy

As far as local democracy goes, there are a handful of us that attend Cambridge council meetings fairly regularly who also have enough technical and/or specialist knowledge, the confidence and time to carry out this role. I dare say that many people with smartphones have the technical knowledge to record, edit, publish and publicise what happens in council meetings. Whether they have the desire to attend such meetings or the specialist knowledge of some of the more arcane procedures or difficult areas of local government (such as planning law) is up for debate. Despite having worked a short while in planning casework in my early civil service days (Yeah! – we ***owned*** those tree preservation order appeal files!)

I tended not to stick around for the bits of meetings that involved planning applications – even though the decisions were essential. One which I stuck around for last year involved a local council committee ordering a local resident to demolish an extension he had built in breach of planning laws. But someone building in a conservation area without permission, or cutting down trees protected by law can raise local tensions. A committee of councillors, a couple of committee staff, a planning officer, the resident concerned and their representative and an audience of…six locals and a dragon fairy…it’s not the most glamorous night out. But these are the grass roots of democracy, and they happen all too often under-reported in communities across the country.

Community reporting and impartiality

The broadcast media has to report politics impartially – not showing any favour to any political party. Going by this judgement, it also extends to adverts. Both Cambridge 105FM and Shape Your Place – Cambridge are currently appealing for more people to become community reporters. In principle I don’t have a problem with this. The bit that concerns me is the availability of accessible training for those that want to take on this role. The last thing a community radio station wants is to lose its licence because clips submitted by community reporters were unwittingly breaching regulations on impartiality. Being a community reporter is not the same as being a journalist. I also don’t see them as necessarily being in competition with each other.

Community reporting and local news journalists

In the case of the latter – in my case lets take Elodie Harper of ITV Anglia and Chris Havergal of the Cambridge News because I know them both, they need to know that their news sources are credible, trustworthy and authoritative. A couple of months ago, I was walking past Cambridge railway station and spotted a recently-skewered car – the driver of which having ignored the rising bollard signs. A couple of Twitter exchanges between me and Chris, and a short news story was on the Cambridge News website soon after – with Puffles getting a photo credit. That for me is an example of how some of the more routine news stories can be sourced. As the trained journalist, Chris asked a series of specific questions that I, as an untrained community reporter wouldn’t have thought of.

That’s what good training does – you instinctively click into work mode when something comes up. In this case, Chris’s training taught him to ask a series of basic but essential questions of me – the source, in response to what I had posted. It’s similar when I end up having political discussions with local political activists & their ideas. My old civil service training kicks in and I throw basic, essential and sometimes tricky public policy-related questions at them. (How are you funding it? What are the top three risks? How are you managing those risks? What are the alternatives to your policy and why have you discounted them – and on what evidence base?)

In the case of Elodie being on TV, she’s faced with a greater geographical area so inevitably covers fewer but ‘bigger’ news items. While Chris can be out and about alone, Elodie often has to work with at least one other person – eg camera operator. Also, Elodie has the additional role of being a news anchor as she has been on Anglia News this week. The challenge for both Elodie and Chris in this new digital media era is working out who their eyes and ears on the ground are in places where they cannot be. In Chris’s case when two council meetings are scheduled at the same time in different venues, having a familiar face live-tweeting from the meeting he otherwise misses can be a great help.

A challenge for Cambridge?

I think it’s worth exploring this further with local print and broadcast media collectively: what should the relationship between them and community reporters be? What basic training opportunities should be made available to the latter – and at whose cost? What opportunities are there for more formal arrangements with colleges, universities and with adult & continuing education providers? After all, students at Cambridge Regional College have already demonstrated they can produce a broadcast-quality local version of Question Time.

(See my comments on the above programme in this blogpost)

Posted in Cambridge, Charities and Big Society, Law and legal issues, Party politics, Public administration & policy, Social media | 1 Comment

Choice and cameras

Summary

I want to upgrade some of my digital video kit, but the seemingly endless choice of models and advice out there has left me in a daze

Like a stuck record, I come back to an issue I blogged about in 2013 here, and in 2012 here. The difference here is that I’m going to be applying ‘my choice’ in a market where it feels the products on offer (and the advice that goes with it) are seemingly infinite.

“If people are faced with a limited amount of information, limited time and a limited ability to learn how to scrutinise what little information they have in front of them, the choices that they make may not be the same if given increasing amounts of all of those variables.”

My words in Do you have time to think? My point being that information, ability to scrutinise that information and the time you have to scrutinise it (along with the ability to make a choice – eg finance-wise) all have an impact on decisions you make.

An incredible journey with digital media in 2014

I’ve been making and uploading my own short video and audioclips on a regular basis of late. (See here for videos, and here for audio). The feedback has been overwhelmingly positive – not so much for the quality but that because someone happens to be filming, publishing and publicising from meetings, community events and small performances where previously there might have been no one. In the process of doing all of this, I’ve noticed the limitations of the kit that I have. Hence being able to ask slightly more informed questions. Yet at the same time, I don’t feel nearly as informed as I would like to be before parting with several hundred quid on a new gadget.

Where do I want to get to with all of this?

I want to become an informed practitioner of digital media. I’m not aiming to be a professional film maker or anything like that, but I want to do more than turn up, set up kit and press ‘record’. Ditto with editing – I want to do more than turning down the background noise, turning up the voice or music enhance options, or tweaking the anti-shake toggle. I want to get to the stage where the video and audio are as they are because of conscious decisions I have taken with the kit, rather than relying on the auto-options.

The context for me will remain community action and local democracy for quite some time. I think there’s altruistic and historical merit in capturing this sort of footage for generations to come. Career-wise, whatever I end up doing (assuming my health recovers) I hope the knowledge I acquire will enable me to ask informed questions of those I will work with.

So…back to the cameras. The problem is…?

So many brands, makes, versions and models to choose from. What direction is the industry going in? What sort of price should I be aiming at? What sort of kit will be too expensive for the sort of thing I want to do? Camcorder vs DSLR? Which ones are ‘the best’? (That last one being a bit of a silly question because it ultimately depends on what the user wants to do!)

The other thing is personal principles with electronic waste. I’m tempted to go for a second hand model. I don’t feel particularly compelled to break the bank for a brand new one when a higher spec second hand model for the same (or lower) price will do just as well. I like the idea of a camcorder because it fits into my shoulderbag easily and discretely. I’m not so keen on the bulky shape of DSLRs – even though several people who do digital filming professionally all seem to be using DSLRs today.

Accessorise, accessorise, accessorise!

The squeakiness of my existing cheapo tripod messed up some recordings despite my various attempts to resolve this. So on looking at a new one, the young me is all ***Wow!*** at the thought of upgrading to this… until you look at the price tag. The only thing I have of that brand is this mini tripod that can also be a mini camera holder out and about. It significantly reduces camera shake. While filming Malka Kovalenko & Bity Booker at Hotnumbers Coffee recently (See here), I lent the gadget plus phone-holder to one of Malka’s friends who was also filming but with a smartphone. She said the attachments made a huge difference. I’m also learning about the benefits of remote controls – it’s awkward starting and stopping recording having to press the gadget that’s doing the filming. Yes, you can solve it in editing by clipping the ends, but it just doesn’t ‘feel’ right.

Which brings me to the next issue of ensuring that whatever I buy has the right adaptors/sockets/ports to link up with existing kit. This is where standardisation makes sense. This for me is an EU-wide issue: It’s a ‘You have got to make your stuff compatible with stuff made by your competitors’. Were it not for an ink cartridge refill place in my neighbourhood, this would be a bit of an issue for me as my printer doesn’t like generic print cartridges. It makes sense for a firm (not naming names) to lock people into their brands. Whether it’s printer and cartridges, hardware and software to even washing machines and washing powder, it reduces competition and raises prices without the guaranteed increase in quality.

Thinking ahead with future purchases

I have in my mind the type of shots/clips I want to film – and just as importantly the effects I want to achieve. The clip below was something as a complete beginner I was (and still am) incredibly pleased with.

The speed of the train combined with the still water and the flat countryside followed by the slow but majestic appearance of the large wind turbine for me is quite something. But filming while in motion is not easy. Browsing through a book that I ended up purchasing today, the authors made a point about the risks of trying to film while in control of, or on the back of a moving vehicle. The point they made about motorbikes is well made: Both camera operators and riders train hard to become skilled and safe in this. It’s not a case of jumping on the back of someone’s wheels.

The other thing that made me go ***Oooh!*** was this piece of kit. The footage in the review below (as well as the author’s comments in the piece) speak for themselves

Now, everything doesn’t have to be expensive. For example rather than spending lots of money on a proper camera track, you could do this:

Just think of the fun you could have with those accessories applied to something like…a council meeting! There are a number of movie tricks that can be applied to such meetings that can make an individual councillor look like a superhero or the head of an evil organisation. We covered this at film skool. It’s probably why the cameras for BBC Parliament are dead still – you don’t see filmed footage where the camera is moving or zooming in or out. For obvious reasons, the TV footage has to be as ‘neutral’ as possible.

Now, in the grand scheme of things I won’t be forking out huge amounts of money on all of that expensive kit. I don’t have the money and couldn’t really justify the purchases at this stage even if I did. I’m not going to jump in at the deep end because finance aside, technically and knowledge-wise I’m not ready for it yet.

Posted in Social media | 2 Comments

Be the change – Cambridge: It’s over to you

Summary

As tickets go on sale for Cambridge’s first big community action ‘unConference’, some thoughts on how an idea from 2011 turned into something real

What’s ‘Be the change – Cambridge’ on Sat 13 September about? Click here. Where do you get tickets? Click here. Want to volunteer on the day and get a free hoodie? Email me at antonycarpen [at] gmail [dot] com.

Bringing together over 200 people from across Cambridge’s diverse range of communities and getting them to agree on what our city’s big problems are is one thing. Encouraging them to come up with ideas that they can put into action is quite another. But we’re giving it a go. We’ve been very fortunate with sponsors that have stepped forward to meet the event costs. See who has stepped forward already on our sponsors page here. Some of you might be surprised at who is stepping forward to support a community action event such as this.

Strength in diversity

Although this has been something I’ve been pondering and planning in my mind for nearly three years, it was Dr David Cleevely and Anne Bailey who challenged me to turn these thoughts into something concrete. Ceri Jones joined us recently as the creative brains behind our website and brochure. We’re all from different backgrounds in more ways than one. The big benefit of this is being able to bring different insights to the challenges we face in putting on an event such as this. I’ve probably learnt more from/as a result of the aforementioned trio in the past couple of months than I probably think.

At the same time, all four of us (and more besides) seem to be coming across similar problems with the way our city functions. By this I’m talking about systems and processes rather than individuals. Only recently we saw (in my opinion) another failure of local systems and processes – see here. What in the systems and processes of the partnership allowed for Cambridge City Council not to be represented on the board of a Greater Cambridge partnership? What also allowed for the lack of diversity on the board? (Only one of the 13 seats being held by a woman).

What do you do when someone puts their trust in you?

That’s probably been one of the biggest emotional burdens to deal with on my side: Other people putting their time, effort and resources into a vision or an idea that I have had in with the belief both in the idea and my ability to deliver it. This is very different from the world of public policy where in the grand scheme of things you are either playing with ideas or scrutinising the mistakes made by others but not yourself. Having worked in public policy as well as having run an audit function in the civil service, I’ve seen where things have gone wrong and looked into why in projects and programmes across the country.

It’s a very different emotional sensation when responsibility for delivery primarily falls on you – even more so when you are carrying some of the financial risk. I remember feeling the latter when first commissioning my original digital video guides for social media (see here). Spending public money on an investment is one thing. Spending your own money on an investment is quite another.

Turning growing interest into ticket sales, and attendance into actions

I’m really pleased that a number of councillors across Cambridge have stated publicly they are going to attend – including the Leader of Cambridge City Council, Cllr Lewis Herbert. One of the reasons is the event is going to be different to the traditional area committees we have in Cambridge – the community forums where people can raise issues with councillors for the latter to solve. Our event on 13 September is where everyone takes part in scoping the problems, identifying solutions and ideas, and then taking action to make things happen.

The conversations the four of us have had (me, Anne, David and Ceri) have indicated strong interest from a variety of fields. The common theme that is coming up is how people feel Cambridge needs an event of this type:

  • Something different – and that will challenge existing ways of doing things
  • Something that is big – on a large scale
  • Something that unleashes the talents from across the different communities
  • Something open to those at the top of large institutions to the resident who feels that no one is interested in them
  • Something that won’t be forgotten about after the event is over

On turning attendance into actions, I’ve taken inspiration from Walthamstowe MP Stella Creasy. Her way of working on community issues is to invite whoever raises the issue to be part of the solution rather than expecting the MP/MP’s staff to deal with the issue alone. Similar principles apply with our event. Area committees (see here) and our local MP’s surgeries (in our case Julian Huppert’s – see here) already exist where people want local or central government to take action on their behalf.

A natural worrier organising an event

I probably won’t sleep for the first fortnight in September! But dealing with that is part of the planning process. Hence bringing together experienced and talented facilitators from a range of backgrounds to help the workshops run smoothly. For events as large as this, and to ensure we get as much information and as many ideas out of the workshops, one person cannot micromanage. Knowing that the workshops will be in good hands is a big weight off of my mind. It’s also part of the learning process having not organised a big event like this before. Being the main organiser means learning how to delegate, allocate tasks and ensure things are done rather than doing everything yourself.

Managing expectations

I’ve come away from many an unConference buzzing with excitement in recent years – although less so over the past 12 months. The reason for this is I didn’t see the exciting things from those unConferences transferring into life in Cambridge. I remember a few people a couple of years ago telling me that Cambridge wasn’t ready for an unConference for public services along the lines of UKGovCamp. Hence having to adapt the unConference model to make it fit Cambridge’s unique circumstances. In this case, it means spending the morning in sessions where we collectively identify the problems to solve, and go into more detailed problem-scoping in the workshops before lunch.

Cambridge as a city is full of ideas. Over 2 years ago I went to one such event where people were pitching lots of interesting ideas. I was one of the pitchers:

I have no idea what actually happened to the idea though. Hence I believe we need to get agreement and community consent on what our city’s problems are before looking at what our roles are as individuals and groups in solving them. If the idea fits, or can be adapted to solve an agreed problem, the greater its chances of becoming an action.

Next steps?

There are still lots more things to do on the essentials side. One of the things I’d like to have for the 2 weeks before the event are a series of short digital video clips/vox pops with people from across Cambridge submitting their suggestions for issues they would like to discuss, and potential solutions to problems.

Be the change – Cambridge: It’s happening!

 

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