Feb 052015

****Tickets now available****


Click on this link

Do you want to have more than your say on the future of Cambridge?

Do you want to share your ideas with dozens of passionate & like-minded people?

Do you want to make a positive difference to our city?

If so, this event is for you! 

We’re delighted to confirm the arrangements for our community action event, which will take place on Sat 14 March at Anglia Ruskin University, East Road, Cambridge.

We’ve changed the ticketing format from the paid vs free tickets to having all tickets free while allowing people the option to donate towards the costs when booking. Our suggested donation (£10) is the same price as the original ticket price for the small group of people that carried over their original bookings. The most important thing however, is people’s participation.

With Cambridge’s packed calendar of events – in particular the brilliant Cambridge Science Festival, we’ve gone for a 12pm-6pm event rather than a 10am-4pm event. We are also incorporating three planned workshops into the afternoon to reflect your ideas & input from our Brewhouse & Conversation Cafe events in autumn 2014. These will be:

  • The arts and culture offer for Cambridge
  • Housing and transport planning: How does it work and how can you influence it?
  • How should Cambridge City be run?

The final of the three stems from very recent developments with the Greater Cambridge City Deal – which now has a constituted executive board and assembly. This resulted in the very recent announcements of £100m of funding for ten transport projects between 2015-2020. See here.

We will also be organising a couple of small focussed skills-sharing workshops in the morning prior to the 12pm start. One of these will include the very talented Jennifer Jones, who was a project manager for the Digital Commonwealth project for the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games. She will be sharing her skills, knowledge and learning on community media and engagement from both the 2014 project and from her research as a PhD student in the School of Media, Culture & Society at the University of the West of Scotland.

We look forward to meeting you all in March!

Anne, Antony and David.

 Posted by at 2:31 am
Jan 192015

On 15 January 2015, student societies from Cambridge University, Anglia Ruskin University and Hills Road Sixth Form College took over the Cambridge Guildhall to host ‘Campaigning Cambridge.’ Antony went along to meet them.

Interested already? Get in touch with them!

Cambridge University Students Union
Cambridge Student Hub
Anglia Ruskin Students Union

These are just a few snapshots of the groups of young people and supporting organisations doing fantastic work across Cambridge. With Be the change – Cambridge, we want to help our students and young people have an even greater impact on our city by making it much easier for them to get support from adults and our city’s institutions. Things worth considering in advance of our community action event on 14 March 2015 at Anglia Ruskin University are:

  1. How do we, the people of Cambridge communicate with each other and our institutions? (For example what is the role of local TV, local radio, local print publications, online blogs and ‘digital content producers’ – such as those that make digital videos? This goes ***far beyond*** communications strategies that state ‘we will use local radio and social media etc).
  2. How do we change the culture, systems and processes in our institutions so that young people don’t have to fight the same battles every year to get institutions to listen to them? For example, how can we build into institutional systems something that makes them aware every autumn there are Year 12 students looking for community projects to work on as part of their extra curricular/enrichment college programmes? How do we synchronise institutions’ calendars with the Prince’s Trust Team programme and the National Citizen Service programme?
  3. How can we make sure the new arrangements for the Cambridge City Deal work for young people, and for the people of Cambridge rather than just the economy?

The students & young people are up for the challenge.

Are we?


 Posted by at 2:24 pm
Jan 132015

The assembly had its first meeting at South Cambridgeshire District Council’s Cambourne offices on 12 January 2015. Both Jon Vale of the Cambridge News, and Antony Carpen of Be the change – Cambridge went along to observe proceedings.

Did you know you can table questions to the assembly?

Both Jim Chisholm of the Cambridge Cycling Campaign, and Dr Julian Huppert MP put their questions to the assembly. Have a look at the video below.

Further videos include:

Please see the end of this post for the rules on tabling formal questions to the assembly if you are considering tabling your own.

Jon Vale of the Cambridge News has summarised the top ten transport projects that were discussed at the meeting. You can read his summary here. See also Jon’s additional report on the meeting here.

You can view the papers for the assembly meetings here. You can also watch the presentation by Graham Hughes of Cambridgeshire County Council to the assembly below. Apologies for the poor audio as I didn’t have access to the council’s AV system. (Note to assembly members, please speak clearly into the microphones!)

We will post the dates of future meetings on our Meetup Group page.


Rules on public questions to the Greater Cambridge Joint City Deal Assembly

“At the discretion of the Chairman, members of the public may ask questions at meetings of the Joint Assembly. This standard protocol is to be observed by public speakers:

  1. notice of the question should be given to the Democratic Services team at South Cambridgeshire District Council (as administering authority) by 10am the day before the meeting; (Graham Watts, Democratic Services Team Leader at South Cambridgeshire District Council, via email or telephone (01954) 713030)
  2. questioners will not be permitted to raise the competence or performance of a member, officer or representative of any partner on the Joint Assembly, nor any matter involving exempt information (normally considered as
  3. ‘confidential’); questioners cannot make any abusive or defamatory comments;
  4. if any clarification of what the questioner has said is required, the Chairman will have the discretion to allow other Assembly members to ask questions;
  5. the questioner will not be permitted to participate in any subsequent discussion and will not be entitled to vote;
  6. the Chairman will decide when and what time will be set aside for questions depending on the amount of business on the agenda for the meeting. Normally questions will be received as the first substantive item of the meeting;
  7. individual questioners will be permitted to speak for a maximum of three minutes;
  8. in the event of questions considered by the Chairman as duplicating one another, it may be necessary for a spokesperson to be nominated to put forward the question on behalf of other questioners. If a spokesperson cannot be nominated or agreed, the questioner of the first such question received will be entitled to put forward their question.”

The above taken from Agenda Item 5, page 3 of the agenda reports pack here.

 Posted by at 5:23 pm
Jan 052015

Welcome back everyone for what promises to be a very exciting 2015 in and around Cambridge – not least because of the general election!

January event hosted by the Cambridge Hub

Our wonderful friends at the Cambridge Hub are hosting a second ‘Green Open Space’ gathering on Thurs 22 January at 7pm in the Keynes Hall at King’s College, Cambridge. See here for the Meetup group details - and please register with our Meetup group if you want to receive event updates. Some of us went along to the first gathering the Cambridge Hub hosted just before Christmas – Antony’s writeup of this event is here.

Want to feature in a video for Be the change – Cambridge?

Antony is making a short promotional video for Be the change – Cambridge. He’s looking for people who want to feature in it or perhaps who would like to take part in planning, filming and editing a community digital video. Antony only started making digital videos himself last summer. Here’s what he produced for the Mill Road Winter Fair 2014

Do you recognise any of the individuals, community groups and charities featured in the film? Interested? Drop Antony an email at antonycarpen [at] gmail [dot] com or drop a message via our Facebook page here. We are also on Twitter at @BeTheChangeCam.

Sign up your community group for ‘Volunteer for Cambridge’

Be the change – Cambridge is supporting the Cambridge Hub in organising this event, hosted by Cambridge City Council. It’s on Sat 28 February at Cambridge Guildhall. More details on our Meetup group here. If your community group would like a free stall, please see the Cambridge Hub here.

Big Spring Gathering – Sat 14 March 2014 at Anglia Ruskin University

Please add this in your diaries via our Meetup group here. More details on how to get involved in our headline event will follow in Mid-January.

A busy start to the year – let’s make 2015 count!

 Posted by at 3:04 pm
Dec 032014

Hello everyone!

We hope you are staying warm in the cold outside!

Confirmed date for our Big Spring Gathering

We can now confirm the date for our Big Spring Gathering will be on Sat 14 March 2015 at Anglia Ruskin University. Please save the date in your diaries via our Meetup Group. Also, if you haven’t already joined our meetup group, feel free to do so. It’s one of our main channels for keeping in touch with everyone.

Feedback from our Cambridge Brewhouse Event

A belated ***thank you*** to everyone who came along to this event. The comments and feedback you gave us were really useful – in particular some of the constructive criticism of what we didn’t get right first time at the Conversation Cafe event.

One of the biggest themes to come out of the Brewhouse event was having community meetings across the city either as the main output for, or in the run up to a larger gathering. This is something that the core team (Antony in particular) will be looking into, especially in terms of how we can support existing council-run Cambridge Area Committees, established residents’ associations and more informal residents’ groups. In this context, several of you mentioned to our facilitator Anne Bailey about what ‘added value’ Be the change – Cambridge could add.

“What do you mean by ‘added value’? It sounds a bit vague!”

The most recent visible example we have was in the November by-election in the Queen Edith’s ward. Working with students at Homerton College, Antony Carpen and local blogger Chris Rand who blogs at organised and filmed a hustings at Homerton College. Antony filmed interviews with each of the candidates. He also recorded a joint interview with the Conservative and Liberal Democrat Prospective Parliamentary Candidates for South Cambridgeshire, asking them to talk about what got them involved in local democracy. You can view all of the clips in this album.

The ‘value added’ is helping organise an event, and recording it so those who cannot attend can see what happened. It also allows people to see and hear the speakers in their own voices. In this case, the value added is creating digital content for a wider audience, ensuring that a greater number of people are more informed about what is happening in Cambridge. It also serves as a historical record.

Mobilising young people

This has been something a number of you want to see Be the change – Cambridge make an impact on. Initial efforts so far have not borne fruit. Hence at a recent ‘green open space’ event hosted by the brilliant Cambridge Hub, we put the challenge to students in Cambridge: In the context of environmental activism, how would they go about mobilising Cambridge’s 16-19 year olds to get them to take part in community, student and city societies? Click here to read what ideas the students came up with. This event is going to be repeated early in the New Year. If you’d like to stay informed, the Cambridge Hub are on Facebook here, and on Twitter at @CambridgeHub

Specific actions before Christmas

Antony and Anne have analysed feedback and spent an afternoon working up a series of options that we will be putting to the group of volunteers who are helping shape the spring event. We will be in touch by Mid December.

Interesting events for your diaries

Interesting event 1: Cambridge – The Creative City. How can the arts and cultural sector contribute to the future of our City? Alison Richard Building, West Road, Cambridge, 10 Dec 2014. (Uni4 Bus stops outside).

Cambridge City Council’s Jane Wilson will be hosting this event. This is one of the workstreams she and others developed at the Conversation Cafe, and since then it has developed significantly. If you are interested in supporting Jane, the City Council and the Cambridge Arts Network in improving our city’s arts and culture offer – particularly (but not only for) young people, this event is essential. Tickets are £5 and are available online here.

Interesting event 2: UKGovCamp – Central London, 24 Jan 2015

This is the annual gathering of many of the finest minds working in digital public services. I’ve posted details here. Normally only a handful of people from Cambridge attend. This time we want to see a significant number of new faces from Cambridge taking part. Learn from the pioneers of digital public services, and test your ideas with talented people so passionate they are prepared to give up a Saturday unpaid to take part in this.

Interesting event 3: eLuminate festival – Cambridge, 11-15 Feb 2015

Alessandra Caggiano, who has been providing us with essential support for the Conversation Cafe & Brewhouse events, is organising eLuminate. See here for more details on how her team will be illuminating some of Cambridge’s most loved buildings in a sea of colour!

Interesting event 4: Volunteer for Cambridge – The Guildhall, Cambridge, 28 Feb 2015

Two weeks before our Big Spring Gathering is this wonderful event. Hosted by Cambridge City Council and organised by Cambridge Hub (again!), they are being supported by a core group of organisations and activists, including the Cambridge Council for Voluntary Services & Be the change – Cambridge. Community groups are invited to register for a stall. Click here for more details. The big aim for this event is to get people who would not normally get involved in volunteering or community action to find out more about what they can get involved in.

And not forgetting…

The Cambridge Science Festival: 9-22 March 2015

They are hosting a number of exciting and inspiring events. See here for full details.

There’s the inevitable event clash, but a combination of the general election, students’ exams and summer holidays, this was the only reasonable date without having to put everything back to autumn 2015.



 Posted by at 9:10 pm
Nov 072014

Hello everyone

Devolution in Cambridgeshire has been in the news in recent days – some of you may have seen the coverage on the BBC. (See their article here). On 5 November, Cambridge University Technical College hosted BBC Look East’s debate on devolution in the East of England. Click here to watch the programme.

Cambridge Brewhouse Event

  • Date: Tues 18 November 2014
  • Time: from 6:30pm
  • Venue: Cambridge Brewhouse, 1 King Street, Cambridge, CB1 1LH

(Please note this is a change to the original date)

We will be in the upstairs function room (the Locker Room), which has a capacity for around 50 of us. We will also have use of their small upstairs bar. (You’ll have to buy your own drinks though!) The room is where the local social media agency Sookio hold their excellent social media masterclasses.

This event will be facilitated by Dr David Cleevely and Anne Bailey. If you would like to come along, please could you sign up via our Meetup group here.

Since the conversation cafe event, the small core organising group have had a couple of follow-up meetings. This is the first gathering of the wider group of people who have indicated they would like to be involved in the Be the change Cambridge project. A few of the core group have also had meetings with Cambridge City Council and Cambridgeshire County Council officials and councillors to explore how we can co-ordinate and support each others actions.

Your input to the Brewhouse event

As with the Conversation Cafe event at Anglia Ruskin University in September, we’re inviting active participation. In particular, we’d like your ideas and recommendations for the big spring event. Recall that in the summer, we set out our vision in our brochure here. One of the workstreams several of worked on at the Conversation Cafe, that Kim Spence-Jones summarised, was on the restructure of local government. Given the recent news and announcements from local government, could we design something into the spring event that invites people to take part in that county-wide conversation? Other things that you may want to explore at The Brewhouse event could include:

  • Marketing – in particular how do we ensure a spread of representation from across our communities, sectors of the local economy, and also geographically across the city
  • Information and mapping – What information will we need to underpin what we do. This could range from traditional ‘stakeholder mapping’ of which groups/organisations influence and have an interest in the project, to demonstrating tools and apps that people can use to improve how our city functions – MySociety being an example of the latter.
  • Youth participation – how can we get them involved and influencing the design of the event, the discussions that take place, and the reporting and write-ups of the spring event?
  • Succession and sequencing – What happens after the spring event, and how to we ensure momentum generated is maintained? How can we minimise clashes with other events and actions?
  • Pre-event activities and actions – What do participants want to do in the run up to the event? Are there things that we can organise that can tap into our local arts, culture and creative industries?
  • Sponsorship – Who should we approach to provide more financial support to the project, in particular if we are going to have actions continuing beyond the spring event?

If you have any questions, please email Antony Carpen at antonycarpen [at] gmail [dot] com

See you on Tuesday!

Brewhouse Pic

 Posted by at 9:28 pm
Oct 212014

At a meeting of Cambridgeshire County Council’s full council on Tuesday 14 October 2014, councillors debated a motion on the future structure of local government across the county in the face of further budget cuts. The text of the motion is here. You can watch a video of the debate that councillors had on Youtube here. Note also the contribution from Cllr Ian Manning (click here for the video clip) where he mentioned the work Be The Change – Cambridge has already done, and how it could be a possible means of starting this conversation about the future of the county.

This debate took place shortly after Antony Carpen’s public question to Cambridgeshire County Council. (See here for a video of the question, and the response from the leader of Cambridgeshire County Council, Cllr Steve Count).

Update on Spring 2015 event

We’ve had a meeting of the core group of organisers, and will be having a further one shortly to confirm the date of the spring event. We are working with Cambridge City Council and the Cambridge Student Hub to co-ordinate/sequence the event with the Cambridge Community Fair, scheduled for the 28 February 2015. Once we’ve got the essentials confirmed, we’ll have a gathering of interested parties beyond the core group to shape the spring event.

Several of us will also be going along to the event Could Cambridge become a smarter city? which is part of the Cambridge Ideas Festival. It’s on Thurs 30 Oct – hope to see you there!

 Posted by at 10:41 pm
Oct 022014

Cambridge has a number of active, innovative and vibrant community groups campaigning on all things sustainability. Several work closely with Cambridge City Council’s environment team to reduce our city’s environmental impact.

Could Cambridge become a smarter city? – Thu 30 Oct, 18:30, Mill Lane Lecture Rooms, 8 Mill Lane, Cambridge CB2 2RW

Part of the Cambridge Festival of Ideas 2014, this repeats an event hosted in 2013, so it will be interesting to see what progress our city has made over the past 12 months. See our Meetup group here for links to tickets and to Antony’s blogpost from the previous year’s event.

Transition Cambridge – AGM: Mon 20 Oct, 19:30, Friends Meeting House, Jesus Lane, Cambridge CB5 8BA

Click here for more information. Transition Cambridge have a number of interesting projects running across the city. From growing their own food to hosting skills shares to exploring renewable sources of energy, Transition Cambridge put the theories into action. They recently co-hosted a very successful ‘restart’ event where local residents brought broken electronic gadgets in for examination and repair by a number of very talented experts. This was featured on ITV Anglia on 2 October – see the report here.

Cambridge Cycling Campaign – AGM and presentation by Professor Sir David Spiegelhalter: Tues 4 Nov, 20:00, Friends Meeting House, Jesus Lane, Cambridge CB5 8BA

The Cambridge Cycling Campaign work closely with the city and county council to improve transport in our city. Cllr Lewis Herbert, Leader of Cambridge City Council stated at their election hustings in Spring 2014 that the campaign plays an important role in scrutinising planning and transport projects. Professor Sir David Spiegelhalter is the Winton Professor for the Public Understanding of Risk at the University of Cambridge. He will be giving a talk titled ‘How risky is cycling?’ See for more information.

Liberated Feast – Sun 16 Nov, 18:30, Centre St Pauls, Hills Road, Cambridge.

Raising awareness on global food waste, the brainchild of Jennie Debenham this was first launched in 2013 with local MP Dr Julian Huppert as a guest speaker. Volunteers cook up a lovely vegan banquet for over 100 people using produce from farms, shops, allotments and local supermarkets that would otherwise go to waste. Proceeds from the event go to a school feeding project on for the Milimani School on Kenya’s Rusinga Island. Previous events have sold out so get your tickets fast! Click here to buy your tickets. If you are interested in sustainable food issues, have a look at the Cambridge Sustainable Food City project at - a number of firms and colleges are part of this project.

Dowsing Sound Collective’s Christmas Cocktail – Sun 14 Dec, 19:30, Cambridge Corn Exchange, Wheeler Street, Cambridge

Our friends at the Dowsing Sound Collective are hosting their excellent Christmas musical extravaganza in aid of Cambridge-based music foundation, The Dosoco Foundation. Dosoco are also one of the beneficiaries of Be the change – Cambridge. Last year’s Christmas Cocktail event sold out the Corn Exchange. So if you don’t want to miss out, get your tickets from the Corn Exchange here. See below for a recording from Dowsing’s summer 2014 concert in Bury St Edmunds.


 Posted by at 1:01 pm
Sep 252014

In our next installation of clips, we hear from dancers and cyclists.

Mel Findlater is one of the volunteers at Cambridge Online’s social media surgeries. Local people and community groups are able to book free 30-45 minute sessions for advice on social media topics of their choosing. See the Meetup group for more details.

East of England MEP Vicky Ford spoke at our conversation cafe event, challenging the people of Cambridge (which includes people that visit regularly or commute) to use social media tools to design something that improves rural transport access.

One of the biggest dance groups in Cambridge, Cambridge Lindy (see have made a call for more and better venues for dance groups in Cambridge. Cambridge is blessed with some very vibrant dancing communities – such as Cambridge Dancers’ Club, the various salsa groups and Cambridge Argentine Tango.

Finally, did you think that cycles only have two wheels? The You can bike too project (see is a Cambridge-based project that has a number of bikes that make cycling accessible to people who, for whatever reason cannot cycle on standard cycles. They have helped transform the lives of many people across our city and beyond. Amy and Ruth talk about their project, and finish with a challenge for all of us.

 Posted by at 1:56 pm
Sep 182014

Antony Carpen appeared on the Breakfast Show with Dotty McLeod (@dottymcl on Twitter) on Thursday 18 Sept 2014 to talk about the voxpop films that are part of the project. (See the album of videos at Watch the interview below

Antony also recorded a ‘video blogpost’ – or vlogpost for short – on the discussions the art and culture group had at our Conversation Cafe event at Anglia Ruskin University on Saturday 13 September 2014 (see previous post here). Watch the vlogpost below:

Cambridge Area Committees

Filming at community events and council meetings, and helping educate people about how local democracy in Cambridge functions is also part of our autumn filming project. In the interview below, Antony asks Councillor Richard Johnson, who represents the Abbey Ward in Cambridge, about why area committees are important, how they enable residents to raise issues face-to-face with councillors, and enable councillors to scrutinise local public services – such as policing, on behalf of residents.

Cambridge Communities Fair 2015

Back in spring 2012 when Richard Johnson was standing as a candidate in the local elections, Antony asked Richard to back an idea of a big ‘societies fair’ for Cambridge similar to the ones organised by Cambridge and Anglia Ruskin students unions. Click here to see his response!

As you can see from the link above, Richard backed the idea. Fast forward two later and the now Councillor Richard Johnson, executive councillor for communities, arts and recreation, announced the go-ahead for this as a council-organised event for Saturday 28 February 2015 at the Cambridge Guildhall. This has the potential to be one of the biggest and one of the most exciting community action events in Cambridge’s recent history. It could significantly increase the sustainability, activities of and the range of our community groups and organisations. Be the change – Cambridge is supporting Councillor Johnson’s efforts to organise and deliver a successful event.

Accordingly, we have created an online holding page for the communities fair on our Meetup page to help raise awareness and avoid event clashes. See the page at If you are interested in joining the working group that is organising the communities fair, please get in touch with Councillor Johnson using the contact details here.

“What does this mean for our big community action gathering in early 2015?”

The events will complement each other. One of the things we will be discussing is when the best time to schedule our community action gathering to support rather than compromise the communities fair.



 Posted by at 12:51 pm