What if anybody who wanted to participate, could?
The tools to enable people to collaborate more easily have been around and freely available for many years, but it's interesting to see how significant the jump in usage has been in the UK. It's not their existence that matters, it's the sense that people have that they are invited to be involved which prompts them to have a look at the tools, interact and share them. When the use of those tools reaches a tipping point, the people using them become unstoppable. If you're an optimist like me, this is a good thing.
The Council of Social Action, whose Chain Reaction conference took place in November and was ace, is now inviting people to become involved in a chain of conversations linked to the development of a new report. Agreed, "Stronger Communities, Stronger Economy" will make many of your eyes roll, but don't throw sticks at me yet.
The idea is to have a purposeful conversation, without too much organisation, that anybody can join in with. Meetings will have around 20 people each and then be linked by a variety of electronic means, with the opportunity to send feedback to the council. If demand for places goes way above 20 people, then people can organise their own meetings.
The meetings also link in with the We20 initiative as they take place shortly before the G20 Summit in London, when world leaders from the most powerful countries will be gathering to discuss stimulating our economy in various imaginative and strangely worded ways. The effects of these meetings are far-reaching and people in places like Stoke are often on the sharp end. Can thousands of ideas in hundreds of global conversations make a difference to the views of a few (mostly) men in suits? Some ways of feeding in to this should be announced over the next few weeks, doubtless involving all sorts of websites with funny names and friendly graphics.
More importantly perhaps than the chance to ask governments to send more money our way, the meetings are a chance to create change in our own communities. The key question at the end of these meetings will be "What will you do next?"
I was asked yesterday whether this is a new organisation to get bogged down in, by someone with that look of someone who has had too many emails from me (I am trying to give them up).
It isn't. It's just a meeting, a good chance to get a group of people from different backgrounds together at a signficant time for our societies. You can register for the Stoke or London meetings (other cities are in the pipeline, I just think they haven't got round to adding them yet - but you're very welcome to come to Stoke of course!) or find information about holding your own here.