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People Power 2012: in tweets

March 7, 2012

Yesterday I was at People Power 2012, a one-day conference to bring campaigners and activists together with figures from the government, media and corporate world to share lessons from recent and not-so-recent campaigns.

Instead of taking notes, I joined in with the tweeting, using the event hashtag #pp12.

Below is a run down of People Power 2012 in @YF_Web tweets, in reverse chronological order as is the way with Twitter.

There’s some campaigning learning in there, including:

  • “The most important thing to do in climate change campaigning is to inform yourself.”
  • Be consistent in your demand with politicians; don’t change it between communications. That’ll undermine you, your campaign and your supporters.
  • When campaigning, think about the job digital tools are meant to do. Think how, why and what: HOW can it be used? WHY should you use it? WHAT will it add?
  • Freedom of Information requests can be very useful in backing up a campaign. But ensure an FOI request is unambiguous. For example, one request asked, ‘how many officials are men and how many are women?. The answer received: ‘all of them’.
  • To keep campaigning momentum up, it is important to keep going in the face of adversity, celebrate victories however big or small, and don’t rest on your laurels. The institutions you’re facing certainly won’t.
  • A combination of campaigning methods is vital. “It’s the combination of online and offline that will get us close to what we want.”


Conference close

Imagination and putting ourselves in others shoes is vital to campaign effectively – Vivienne Westwood #PP12

It is the avant garde. If one person in 100 is thinking, we need to make the most of people coming to us – Vivienne Westwood #PP12

Vivienne Westwood realised you have to think of everything and tackle every element. #PP12

Get a Life – campaign on climate change for next generation and to help us to not be just consumers – Vivienne Westwood #PP12

Most important thing to do in climate change campaigning is to inform yourself – Vivienne Westwood #PP12

 Inspirational speech with Q&A – Dame Vivienne Westwood

RT @lucypearceox 540 organisations means 540 roots to the tree and also 540 branches. Strength & fragility. Make Poverty History’s legacy. #pp12

#makepovertyhistory Seized distinctive moment in history to ensure that moment was famous, understood and opportunity #PP12

RT @reubenturner 7m people wore white wristbands. Wow. #makepovertyhistory #pp12

2005 make poverty history campaign involved street sign ups with people crossing road to get to campaigners rather than avoid #PP12

Be consistent in your demand with politicians – don’t change it in between communications #PP12 advice from Kirsty McNeill

Make poverty history was experiment in working together – with over 500 organisations #PP12

Now the two final sessions at #pp12 with panel discussion on Make Poverty History and a closing speech from Vivienne Westwood

The legacy of Make Poverty History – Adrian Lovett, European Director, ONE; Deborah Doane, Director, World Development Movement; Glen Tarman, Head of Advocacy, BOND; Kirsty McNeill, Founder of Themba Consultancy; Chaired by Ruchi Tripathi, Senior Programme Manager, Resilient Livelihoods

Flickr – may be more for people really into photography. Quick access for photos often done through Tumblr or Twitter #PP12 #no2hype

Pinterest potential for campaigning/marketing from @mashable – #PP12 #no2hype

RT @allthatkatydid @henrymack @londoncharlotte @fairsay An overflowing pool will undoubtedly become a waterfall – work on both for now. #pp12 #no2hype

Being introduced to Stardoll – – number one referring site for @fairsay‘s website #PP12 #no2hype

Need to think about each social media type and its target, use, options etc. To use what fits the campaign and mix and match #PP12 #no2hype

RT @kathchristie3 If u tweet as a polar bear u get more followers than if u do as @wwf. Fact or fiction? #pp12 #no2hype

RT @wordbirdwrites Long term behaviour change – look at the best voice for your message, not necessarily you #pp12

Twitter – fast moving waterfall, Facebook – slow moving river, email – pool that gets fuller with no guarantee you’ll see it #PP12 #no2hype

Twitter – good for promoting, collecting, aggregating. Can allow people to bring campaign info together under one hashtag #PP12#no2hype

Facebook isn’t necessarily great for campaigning. Not main reason people are on FB. But can allow for profile. #PP12 #no2hype

RT @thegoodagency RT @londoncharlotte: Here’s that Milkshake article: those in @fairsay session #pp12

When campaigning, think about job tool is meant to do. What do people use it for? Different uses. Think how, what and why. #PP12#no2hype

Citizens are good at getting through the marketing. Want to talk ‘with’ people not be talked ‘at’ #PP12 #no2hype

News stories about what editor will publish not what’s good for planet. ‘new’ is sexier than reliable #PP12 #no2hype

RT @thegoodagency Sitting in @fairsay session: “Distinguishing Hype from Reality – evaluating digital tools that matter”. Will be interesting. #pp12

So many tools to use and in campaigning we often use too many. Need to think about where want to go and audience – @fairsay #PP12 #no2hype

What digi tools should we use? Not necessarily just what everyone else is using #PP12 #no2hype

 Distinguishing hype from useful trends in e-campaigning Duane Raymond, Digital Activist, Fair Say (hashtag #no2hype)

RT @drivingequality #PP12 ‘speaking truth to power’ voice must b powerful but independent. Truth must b grounded in democratic legitimacy. #activism

RT @drivingequality #PP12 ‘speaking truth to power’ know your target group and ensure robust evidence base, without compromising your campaign #activism

Good way to view and make FOI requests is via @mysociety‘s what do they know? #PP12 tip from @campaignfoi

Q. what’s tactic for ensuring no ridiculous FOI requests? A. FOI request for zombie attack on Leicester doesn’t take long to answer #PP12

Talk to FOI officers to get feel of what is accessible and what isn’t through FOI act. Many will be helpful. Tips from @campaignfoi #PP12

RT @thegoodagency Private emails are subject to FOI act – but over ruled by Cabinet Office as “can’t search private computer”. #pp12

Q. Do you think there’ll be growing culture of evasion? E.g. Gove using wife’s email. A. Is Work on own computer subject to FOI? YES! #PP12

Q. How has war gone over last 15 years? Any worries? A. Never thought FOI act would come in. Been effective but delays are problem #PP12

RT @thegoodagency Year on year increase in FOI requests since act came into force in 2005. #pp12

RT @fairsay: FOI presentation by – great stuff! #PP12

RT @speakupduck@fairsay: FOI eg: BAA invented ‘green jumbo’ to counter anti-3rd-runway & FOI request revealed no plans to build it #pp12″

Ensure FOI request is unambiguous. Don’t ask ‘how many officials men and how many women?’ One FOI officer answered ‘all of them’ #PP12

FOI requesters need to think like bureaucrats to ask for info available. Limit of £600 (24hr) for nat Govt and £450 (18hr) local #PP12

Simple FOI requests can prove something not working. E.g. Council cracking down on dog mess, FOI request can show fines (not) issued. #PP12

FOI is for obtaining recorded information not for opinion #PP12

Can use FOI to test accuracy and view previous meetings, lobby opposing interests, as research tool and for case histories #PP12

FOI can help document problem campaign is dealing with and show authorities’ shortcomings and demonstrate merits of case #PP12

About to hear about how FOI can be used as campaigning tool at People Power conference #pp12

Freedom of Information as a campaigning toolMaurice Frankel, Director, Campaign for Freedom of Information

Q. how do you keep campaigning momentum up? A. Just need to keep going, celebrate victories and don’t sit back. Institutions won’t #PP12

Q.How did Trade unions react to campaign? A.Had to engage trade unions. Can’t get support of Unite & GMB with most workers at Heathrow #PP12

Q. Is it easier to build coalition against than for? A. For local people prob easier to get coalition against as need highly motivated #PP12

Q. Mistakes from no 3rd runway campaign? Disappointed in numbers at demo. Expected many more than 3000. Too few can be damaging #PP12

For more info on our #digitalactivism work to support communities to campaign using digi tools visit #PP12

We’re at People Power Conference today tweeting about campaigning and learning for our #digitalactivism #ppchange work #PP12

Involving celebs can really help campaign. Get prominent people involved – Cameron has tree on land bought against 3rd runway #pp12

Diverse activities can help keep issue on agenda and get press coverage – John Suaven, Greenpeace #pp12

NIMBY approach leads to fighting with two hands behind back and Govt can divide and connquer. Need to collaborate – John Stewart #pp12

Key to tackle myths into debate to help influence decision makers in campaigning #pp12 e.g. No 3rd runway tackled economic myths from Govt

RT @thegoodagency: John Sauven – not just an ‘anti’ campaign but also about promoting alternative solutions & economic viewpoints. #PP12

RT @fairsay @auerfeld citizens and activists should be the same thing. It doesn’t matter who starts a protest – the timing is the key. #pp12

… Needed common aim for individuals – diversity of issues became strength rather than issue for no third runway campaign #pp12

Diversity of reasons for people involved in no third runway campaign – noise, climate change, community disruption #pp12

Hearing from Greenpeace on No Third Runway campaign #pp12 – lesson no1 is people need to have sufficient power to challenge power of Govt

How the West was won – Lessons from the No Third Runway Campaign
John Sauven, Executive Director, Greenpeace UK in conversation with John Stewart, Chair, HACAN ClearSkies, chaired by Juliette Jowit, Senior Writer, The Guardian and The Observer

“It’s the combination of online and offline that will get us close to what we want” – salil shetty, amnesty international #pp12

RT @londoncharlotte: Gladwell’s article “The revolution will not be tweeted” is now merely an historic curiosity – salil shetty. #PP12

RT @thegoodagency “if you have a complaint, why not put it on our Facebook page?” Egyptian military intelligence general to Amnesty #pp12

Key Note Speech, including Q&A – People Power: Getting to the heart of the matter – Salil Shetty, Secretary General, Amnesty International

At #pp12 to hear about great campaigning. Sitting with Wythenshawe campaigner award winner from Manchester. Great ideas.

Start of conference (hashtag #pp12)


Reactivating Holloway

March 5, 2012

The Digital Activism strand of Building Local Activism has us also in Holloway in Islington, North London. We are supporting Holloway Neighbourhood Group (HNG) to use social media to connect and to galvanise Holloway residents to take charge of their community, to campaign for local issues which matter to them both online and offline, and to help deepen Hollowayers’ sense of place.

Within the last few months, HNG has been detecting an air of change and excitement along the Holloway Road, as the endless possibilities of digital tools are slowly becoming the talk of the beautiful and historic community centre, the Fire Station. The foundation for a new digital age of activism has begun in Holloway.

HNG is about to launch its own hyperlocal website, which will be the hub of digital activism in the area. Not only will it be a forum for distributing information, but with the right level of support provided in partnership with Media Trust, residents will have the opportunity to contribute to the website’s content and become empowered as ‘citizen journalists’. They will be invited to share views and opinions and organise campaigns around issues which matter to them.

A main drive in our Digital Activism strand of work is the development of learning tools for residents to become confident in using digital technology, from email and blogging, to social networking sites like Facebook. As we have mentioned in previous posts, the rise of social media is well documented and often illustrated through a series of remarkable facts such as:

  • Each Facebook user spends an average of 15 hours 33 minutes on the site each month.
  • YouTube generates 92 billion page views per month.
  • Twitter is adding half a million users each day.

The popularity of social media offers tremendous scope to support community action and lobbying for change, whilst equally generating wider interest from locals in the community. Traditional community development and organising can now take advantage of a variety of free, widely used communication tools to complement offline community activity.

Around the country, this has already taken on a variety of shapes, sizes and issues. From protecting green spaces in Richmond and Kingston to saving Lewisham’s library, local communities are increasingly seeing the benefit of digital activism in mobilising support and communicating their concern.

Despite the proposed tools and increasing use of social media, in our recent surveying of Holloway residents, visitors and workers, a total of 31% revealed they do not use the internet, so the importance of engaging people offline is equally vital.  The survey also identified some key issues facing residents in their community including homelessness; unemployment; crime; loan sharks; youths, gangs and antisocial behaviour; park and green spaces; and litter and cleanliness.

As HNG was born out of activism in the 1970s, there was an excitement at a recent trustees meeting, at the prospect of reengaging Holloway with local issues. They were equally thrilled at the role digital tools could play in mobilising the Holloway masses.  Examples such as the nearby Save Walthamstow Cinema campaign demonstrated how both online and offline activism can work effectively alongside each other and galvanise community spirit.

Through Spacehive, a funding platform for neighbourhood improvement projects, a proposal has already been drawn up to tackle the lack of green space in Holloway. Holloway Neighbourhood Group is looking to improve the space outside the local leisure centre and will provide another platform to engage the community and raise the profile of Holloway.

Holloway has a proven army of keen gardeners as seen in the recent short film ‘Wild Places’ for the ‘Film in a Day’ worshop as part of the Reel Islington Film Festival.

Reflecting on the survey work, the trustees were particularly drawn to the problem of loan sharks and money lenders in the area and were buoyed by the Church Action on Poverty campaign in Manchester against the moneylenders Brighthouse. They want to explore similar options for Holloway.

The meeting concluded with a real buzz of optimism and excitement.  The next stage is for us to work closely with the Chief Executive of HNG to devlop ideas for campaigns using online and offline methods, to give the community the voice it deserves.

Watch this space, as undoubtedly more exciting developments will get underway in Holloway in the upcoming weeks and months.

N7 by Nicobobinus on Flickr

Leeds older people up and blogging

March 1, 2012

We have been working with Leeds Older People’s Forum since summer last year, and despite a few setbacks when it came to the flashdance (back in production), things have quickened pace of late and are moving on.

Back in late 2011 I met Adam Perry from Media Trust at a Big Lottery People Powered Change workshop. We got talking about our respective work programmes, and when I realised he was a Leeds resident and he heard we were working with Leeds Older People’s Forum, we were sure there must be a way to link up.

The older people we’re working with at Leeds Older People’s Forum have been, from the off, very keen to improve their knowledge and skills of digital tools such as social networking, blogging and video to support the campaigning activities they are planning. So when Adam mentioned Media Trust’s newsnet – a UK-wide community of citizen journalists, community reporters and local storytellers – and his interest in training people to become citizen journalists, there seemed a natural fit.

So Rachel, Development Officer at Leeds Older People’s Forum, and Adam discussed options and set up two training courses to support awareness raising of older people’s issues in Leeds.

The first, Hitting the Headlines, was one two-and-a-half hour session for staff from local Leeds organisations that support older people. The aim was to help them understand the media and news cycle and how to publicise their organisation and local issues to and through the media.

The second was a four-week training course on Digital Media for Older People. Each weekly two-and-a-half hour session was to focus on a different element of digital media – social media (Facebook and Twitter), blogging and shooting and using video.

The group was quite mixed – mostly female (seven to two), but ranging from 50 (the Administrator from Leeds Older People’s Forum) to 81 (a resident in sheltered housing in Pool). Each participant had at least one barrier to overcome. For some that was a concern about privacy or a lack of confidence, and for others it was a feeling of who’s going to bother to read what I put online? At the beginning it seemed like there was some work to do to convince this group of older people that using digital tools is easy, as involving as you want it to be, and a great way to get your voice heard.

So when I arrived for the final of the four Digital Media for Older People training sessions on Tuesday I was very pleasantly surprised to see everyone with their own fully functioning WordPress blog. And within minutes of arriving at the training session they were all logged on to their sites and practicing their new skills of posting blogs, complete with pictures and YouTube videos, and talking about what they’re planning for their blogs after the training.

After an hour of helping the new bloggers find their way through any minor hiccups, Adam moved the group on to filming. Many campaigns elsewhere have used videos to highlight concerns (e.g. Kilburn Older Voices Exchange (KOVE) uses videos to raise awareness on a number of issues faced by older people) and our partners at Leeds Older People’s Forum are keen to explore how video can help their campaigning activity. But with video editing being time consuming and tricky Adam thought it important to teach the participants the basics of shooting an interview which can go straight onto their blogs without any editing. So in groups of three they set about it. Please see the below a (quickly hashed together) video for some clips of them in action.

But what’s next? Well, the Scanning Group at Leeds Older People’s Forum, which is leading the campaign activity, is meeting on Monday to discuss next steps. But it seems the flashdance will be the excellent kick-start to a campaign for Leeds: a city for all ages using a variety of media to share a range of older people’s voices. And we definitely have a group of nine older people from across Leeds very willing and eager to use their new digital media skills to get those voices heard.

Leeds flashdance update

December 6, 2011

Two weeks ago I blogged about an impending flashdance courtesy of a great group of women at Leeds Older People’s Forum.

The flashdance was originally planned for this coming Thursday but unfortunately it has had to be postponed due to a number of issues – some small issues regarding regulation, a slight nervousness amongst some of the dancers, and some expected very cold weather (I was in Leeds yesterday and can confirm it was so cold).

But, this is not a cancellation; it is purely a postponement until 2012. The group and its supporters are adamant the flashdance will happen early spring, allowing for more pre-campaigning work to ensure the flashdance is a successful kick start to a larger campaign.

In addition, the postponement means the group can ensure older people of all abilities – and levels of introversion/extraversion – can take part. They are hoping to train some of those less able or willing to dance to play a vital role in the campaign perhaps through video, photo or micro blogging, or by raising awareness of the issues and drumming up public support while the flashdancers are dancing.

The enthusiasm and determinism is definitely still there; we just have to wait a little while longer for the action.

We’ll keep you posted.

16 Days of Activism with the Women’s Networking Hub

December 1, 2011

Today marks the seventh day of the 16 Days of Activism Campaign, launched by the Centre for Women’s Global Leadership to campaign against gender-based violence. To coincide, the Women’s Networking Hub in Birmingham has come up with 16 ways for everyone to fight gender violence.

The Women’s Networking Hub has a growing membership of almost 1000 women and campaigns for women’s rights and issues. The Hub celebrates the contribution women can and have made in society throughout history, and thus their potential to influence decision making. It aims to empower women by supporting them to work together on a range of issues facing women and has helped members to set up campaigns and arrange their own leisure and networking clubs.

The Hub also holds events and works alongside other non-profit organisations and inspirational figures to understand, share and further the work being done nationally and internationally in tackling gender inequality.

We are working with the Women’s Networking Hub until March 2013 as part of our Digital Activism work. The Hub wants to establish ways to engage women from communities currently underrepresented in the Hub and develop ways that all women can campaign for social change using digital tools and social networks.

The Hub understands the importance of  initiatives such as the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence Campaign to get women started in campaigning. The 16 Days campaign started on 25 November (International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women) and runs to 10 December 2011 (International Human Rights Day) to symbolically emphasise that violence against women is a human rights violation.

Shahida, founder of the Women’s Networking Hub, recently shared with Hub members 16 quick and easy ways for women to join in with the 16 days of activism – be it online or offline. She’s calling it 16X16 Activate, Activism, Action 16 Days 16 Ways!

The 16 methods of activism highlighted include:  

Make some noise and be seen – Protests and rallies are a well established way for people to get their voice heard. The Hub urges people to plan public speeches, rallies or protests to honour the victims and survivors of violence during the 16 Days campaign.

One example is Reclaim the Night, an annual international march against rape and all forms of male violence against women. This year’s march was held on Saturday and brought together over two thousand women carrying placards and banging drums to say no to male violence and cuts to women’s services.

Join the Tweetathon and start blogging – Supporters of the 16 Days campaign are protesting virtually by tweeting using the #16days hashtag. A wide range of organisations and individuals are tweeting #16days, including @UNpYouth who today tweeted How can men and boys make a difference to end violence against women and girls? Check out #16Days

Others are blogging on relevant issues during the 16 Days campaign, including Karen in Australia who is blogging  daily about the impacts of sexual assault.

Get connected – Shahida also highlights the importance of social media such as Facebook, Flickr and YouTube for getting the message out.

Turn Your Back on Page 3 does just that. The Facebook group exposes instances of the media sexualising violence against women and demands a socially responsible media that does not objectify women. It asks women (and men) to get involved by posting their own pictures to Facebook, sharing posts and inviting friends to join.

And if you want to do the Hub’s seventh action, you can by telling the UK government to match its rhetoric on violence against women, by signing an online petition to call on Equalities Minister Lynne Featherstone to commit the UK to signing the CAHVIO convention.

To read all of the Women’s Networking Hub’s 16X16 Activate, Activism, Action 16 Days 16 Ways! and get involved for the remaining nine days, please read the Shezine.

Written by Asia Begum at the Young Foundation 

Flashdance – an update on our work in Leeds

November 24, 2011

There’s been a bit of a hiatus on the Digital Social Innovation blog recently as we’ve been busy starting our work on Building Local Activism in earnest – meeting with the organisations we’re working with and planning how the work will pan out.

But we’re back with some exciting news that in December we’ll be attending a flashdance. Not of the 1980s, steel mill, bad hair and leg warmers fame. But a 2011 flashdance courtesy of Leeds Older People’s Forum, which will hopefully get people talking much more than the film ever did.

We are working with Leeds Older People’s Forum as part of the Digital Activism strand of work. The Forum supports organisations working with older people across Leeds and ensures the voluntary and community sector is involved in planning, developing and managing services for older people in Leeds.

Between now and 2013 we will be supporting the Forum to campaign for change and get the voice of older people heard using social media platforms and other digital tools. In September we met with the staff of the Forum and a great group of women from the Forum’s Scanning the Horizon group to start our work with them.

The group highlighted two issues in Leeds that need addressing – city centre accessibility and care home standards and provision. We discussed the issues in depth and began to think about how social media could be used to campaign, and the hurdles that need to be overcome such as a fear of social media.

The group is keen to use a range of campaigning methods – including online and offline activity – and it didn’t take long before the idea of a ‘tea dance flash mob’ was tabled by one of the women.

We came away from the meeting very excited about the great group of people we are working with, a draft action plan and a plan to meet again before Christmas to plan the next steps in campaigning. And the flashmob.

But, the group just couldn’t wait, and it didn’t take long before a dancing flashmob –or flashdance – was penned, developed and ready to go, kicking off the Forum’s campaigning activities.

Of course, we can’t give too much away here as a flashmob is supposed to take the public by surprise.

But what we can share is that a dance routine has been choreographed, videos and instructions sent out, campaign leaflets created, videographers arranged, blogs set up and a gorilla costume booked (guerrilla dancing – get it?). All we’re waiting for now is the date to come around and a text message to arrive telling flashdancers when and where to assemble for the big event.

It seems it’s never too late to take your passion, and make it happen. Pictures come alive, you can dance right through your life.

What a feeling.

(Sorry, I just couldn’t resist)

Building digital activism in Elephant & Castle

September 8, 2011

In June, we reported on a number of ways in which local communities were using digital tools to build local activism. Since that time, digital activism at the Heygate Estate in Elephant and Castle has grown, providing inspiring examples of how communities can mobilise effectively through the web.

The Elephant Amenity Network has continued to critique redevelopment plans put forward by the Council and private developers. For example, to present a unified voice about the community’s desires for the area’s future, the Network organised a Visioning Workshop in June 2011. Bringing together 77 community members, two individuals from the site’s private developer (Lend Lease) and seven politicians, the Workshop solicited and compiled community views on housing, shopping, jobs, biodiversity, design and transport. The Network has produced a Summary Report, which it intends to complement the London Plan and the Elephant and Castle Core Strategy for redevelopment.

The Network has also catalysed a host of other web-based civic activism in Elephant and Castle. The biodiversity research done to produce the Heygate Forest Map inspired another blog, Urban Forest, which aspires to “promote trees as an essential part of new developments,” “develop new methods of evaluation and asset management,” and preserve the urban forest. The blog also serves as a watchdog for protecting public space and highlighting mismanagement of greenery during construction.

Finally, Southwark Council plans to close public access to a route through the Heygate Estate. Community members have launched an online petition to gather 250 votes and have the matter discussed at the next Council meeting. They believe that preserving access to the site improves permeability and natural surveillance to ward off anti-social behaviour.

Each of these initiatives has not required extraordinary technical skill.  But by posting blogs, maps and photos, the Elephant and Castle community has been able to enhance their reach and visibility. This is classic civic activism upgraded through the web.

Written by Veyom Bahl at the Young Foundation