We asked some of our Notwestminster 2022 participants to give a short Lightning talk on the day. These quick-fire talks are aimed at getting us all thinking about the context for our work together. You can see all the videos and presentations here.
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Why the Key to Fixing Everything is All of Us
In Jon Alexander’s new book, published on 17th March 2022, he argues that we’re living in a time when the story of society is shifting fundamentally – creating a moment which is deeply scary, but also hugely empowering and exciting. Jon will tell stories of tech, beer, castles, and more – very very fast…
Jon Alexander | @jonjalex | activist strategist Citizen
A committed member of the Notwestminster community, Jon wrote ‘CITIZENS: Why the Key to Fixing Everything is All of Us’ after working for seven years at the New Citizenship Project – a consultancy he co-founded as a way to bring the skills of the creative industries to bear on inspiring people to claim their agency in society as citizens, instead of just selling stuff to people as consumers – across all sectors and aspects of society, with a particular passion for local government.
How to Be More Pirate
What if everything you thought you knew about pirates was wrong? Forget the cartoonish villains we know from Disney; these rebels have a thing or two to teach 21st century organisations about democracy, self-organising, conflict prevention and creating fair and equitable cultures. The Golden Age pirates challenged the establishment and re-wrote the rules of their day; by applying their tactics, we can do the same.
Alex Barker | @AlexandraBarke1 | Be More Pirate
Alex runs Be More Pirate; a book turned social movement and consultancy that supports organisations and individuals to challenge the status quo. She’s worked on culture change inside local government, across the NHS and with global tech companies like Salesforce. Alex is author of How to Be More Pirate and produces the Be More Pirate podcast. She also co-organises grassroots democracy movement, Trust the People.
Your Place or Mine?
In this talk Carl will reflect on his experience of place based engagement and the real and perceived challenges we face in delivering outcomes for our citizens whilst balancing participatory and representative democracy.
Carl Whistlecraft | @Gr8governance
Carl is an innovator in local democracy, with over 30 years experience of working closely with elected councillors in the fields of policy and governance.. He retired as Head of Democracy at Kirklees Council in 2021. Carl has a passion for local democracy and is fascinated by the opportunities presented by supporting and promoting democracy in a digital age. He is particularly interested in trust, compassion and kindness in democracy, social justice, citizen-led democracy, participation and reciprocity.
Democracy Friendly Schools – Inspiring environmental change
In this talk, Peter will be sharing how youth councillors at Newsome Academy in Huddersfield have used democracy to help change their local environment. He will also be inspiring you to support environmental change, and talk about how you can use local democracy in your own area to build the greener future of tomorrow.
Peter Lovell | Kirklees Youth Council
Being part of Kirklees Youth Council, has opened my eyes up to the importance of local democracy. I have been able to expand my knowledge of local democracy, and help young children in other schools to understand the importance of looking after our environment. I want to assist all young people to have a voice, and ensure that voice can be heard.
This is What Local Democracy Looks Like
As national democracies struggle in the face of managing the pandemic, misinformation, social isolation, and increasing ideological polarization, it can be difficult to know how to manage these tangled problems. Local democracy offers us a light and path forward during these dark times. This talk shares the work of an American program called New Hampshire Listens as well as other locally-focused democracy initiatives, telling the story of how communities have worked to create more collaborative decision-making, trust between government and citizens, and increased connections among residents that helps to strengthen local democracy.
Quixada Moore-Vissing | Public Engagement Partners
Quixada Moore-Vissing is a civic researcher and designer of participatory engagement processes, both in the United States and internationally. Her interests include building democracy at the local level and concepts of civic infrastructure. She runs her own consulting firm in the United States, Public Engagement Partners, and has worked on leading engagement programs at Public Agenda, Everyday Democracy, and for two universities. She trained in principles of nonviolence and peace with Kingian civil rights leaders and Gandhian scholars. She earned her PhD in Education at the University of New Hampshire.
Democracy in surprising new places
We’ll explore some of the most exciting and surprising new spaces where people are finding opportunities to practice democracy in different ways, and to influence the things that matter to them. What happens when people are trusted to deliberate on big issues for the first time? How can traditional institutions embrace people power? Do these experiences depend on unique circumstances or can they provide insights and inspiration to all communities and organisations?
Tom Chigbo | @TomChigbo | TPXimpact
Tom is an experienced community organiser, trainer and campaigner, who brings passion and creativity to the task of helping citizens shape their communities and public services. Over the last 13 years, Tom has worked with local authorities, NHS, police, faith, education and community groups around the UK to bring local people into decision-making and delivery of change using a variety of methods. As a former Senior Organiser with Citizens UK, he has equipped hundreds of people of all ages, faiths and backgrounds with the tools to build community relationships, identify shared challenges and take effective social action.
Building Healthier Democracies
It’s widely known that the health of democratic governments relies on an engaged citizenry. Too few government systems have developed embedded practices for citizen engagement, leading to growing distrust and even animosity between communities and their local governments. Public Agenda’s Healthier Democracies project has spent the last two years researching stories of effective government systems for sustained citizen collaboration across the globe. We will share the project’s findings – and some good news for the future of local democracy.
Andrew Seligsohn | @AJSeligsohn | Public Agenda
Andrew is president of Public Agenda, a democracy-focused research and engagement organisation based in New York. Andrew previously served as President of Campus Compact, Associate Chancellor for CIvic Engagement and Strategic Planning at Rutgers-Camden and Director of Civic Engagement Learning at Princeton University. He also taught at those institutions and several other colleges. Andrew has published articles and chapters on educating for democratic participation, higher education engagement, student political engagement, constitutional law, political theory, and urban politics. He holds a Ph.D. in political science from the University of Minnesota.
Public Agenda’s Healthier Democracies Project is supported by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. The views expressed here do not necessarily reflect the views of the Foundation
Democracy after the Pandemic – Hope from a crisis
Covid-19 highlighted big issues in how the country runs but also presented ideas around how society could be better. One area particularly was within our democracy itself. As governments worked top down and began to introduce more and more overly centralised forms of decision making and proposals for more regressive policies, we also saw a movement of mutual aid and self-help groups emerging in their thousands across the country to address unmet needs alongside organisations genuinely listening and putting people at the centre. Could these better, more participatory and people powered projects present a glimpse of a better way forward? And if so, how do we shine a light on them and present a genuine alternative as we prepare for other big moments in our future?
Jessie Joe Jacobs | @JessieJoeJacobs | Involve / Democracy Network
Jessie Joe Jacobs works for Involve and is the UK Coordinator for the Democracy Network – a network to connect organisations seeking to renew UK democracy and address issues of civic power, voice and influence. She is former Sunday Times social entrepreneur of the year, former director of the Northern Inclusion Consortium and founder of the award winning charity, A Way Out. She also ran as Labour’s Mayoral candidate in the 2021 Tees Valley Mayoral election.