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 cusu.co.uk
Cambridge Student Hub cambridgehub.org/
Anglia Ruskin Students Union angliastudent.com/

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
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 http://queen-ediths.co.uk/ 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
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 http://www.camcycle.org.uk/events/ 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 http://www.cambridgesustainablefood.org/ - 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 http://www.meetup.com/Net2Camb/ 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 https://www.facebook.com/groups/cambridgelindy/?fref=ts) 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 http://www.youcanbiketoo.org/) 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
Aug 302014

Be the change – Cambridge is all about bringing people together to share their ideas, issues and plans of action. We want to tap into the wealth of talent in our communities, bring them together and unleash the power of the people onto our city to make it greater than the sum of our parts.

Vox-popping for the city

In the run up to our event at Anglia Ruskin University on Sat 13th September in Cambridge, Antony Carpen will be out and about in Cambridge filming short ‘vox pop’ interviews inviting people to suggest their ideas for what they think could make Cambridge greater than the sum of our parts. An early edition of these vox-pop clips has already been published. Have a look at the ideas Georgina, Ceri, Kris and Steve have.

Steve Turville of Limoncellos on Mill Road in Cambridge is chairing the Cambridge Lakes Project. (See here). Steve’s ambition is to open up the flooded former quarry just beyond the east end of Mill Road and turn it into a leisure facility. At present, it’s fenced off but is regularly broken into during hot summers when people look for somewhere to cool off. Rather than build more fences, why not respond to the demand and turn it into a safe, accessible community facility? Steve has a well-organised committee working on the project. If you would like to get involved, leave them a message via their website or on Facebook here.

See also our second set of clips

Posters around town

Antony and friends have also been putting up posters around town to promote our event. Many thanks to venues that have allowed us to put posters up – including Urban Larder, Arjuna and CB1 on Mill Road, Hot Numbers Coffee on Gwydir Street, Clowns Cafe on King Street, the Romsey Mill, and CB2 on Norfolk Street.


Antony and Ceri have also been at a number of community events, gatherings and council meetings inviting people to take part in Be the change – Cambridge.

Would you like to appear in a vox-pop clip?

If so, leave us a message on our Facebook page (see here) and Antony meet you to film it. Alternatively, you can film it yourself and email it over to Antony. (antonycarpen [at] gmail [dot] com). The format is:

  • State your name
  • State which part of Cambridge (or beyond) you are from
  • State clearly what change you would like Cambridge to make

Ideally, your idea needs to be

  • something specific to Cambridge (ie not a national, international, philosophical issue)
  • something that you and others can help get involved in
  • something that is not ‘party political’ or religious in nature – it’s got to be inclusive
  • something that is positive – something that isn’t about blaming an individual or group of people

In the run up to the event, we will be featuring other groups and projects featuring individuals and people who have identified an issue and are already being the change they want to see. i.e. they are doing something positive about it. They will also be challenging you to be the change that you want to see in Cambridge.

 Posted by at 5:03 pm
Aug 072014

If you haven’t already booked your place for our event at Anglia Ruskin University on 13th September with Cambridge Ahead, please click here. Standard tickets are £10 + Eventbrite’s £1.25 booking fee. Free tickets with no booking fees are available for those on low incomes, people under 21 years old and those volunteering to help out at the event.

Digital and social media volunteers – why they will be important

The UKGovCamp network - who were the first to offer financial support to this event, set the standard for large gatherings with social and digital media use at their heart. My first ‘govcamp’ was in early 2011 when I was a civil servant at the Department for Communities and Local Government. Being surrounded by 200 people all passionate about improving public services using social media was an amazing place to be given where the world was over three and a half years ago. That is the sort of creative energy I hope we can unleash in Anglia Ruskin’s state of the art conferencing facilities on their East Road campus. The venue matters, which is why I’m delighted (not just as a former ARU student) that the Vice Chancellor has given his backing to this event as a headline sponsor.

Having an excellent venue is one thing, but having the people and volunteers to get the best out of it is quite another. This is why we are inviting people passionate not just about Cambridge but also about social and digital media to step forward as volunteers on the day. In particular we invite students in further education who might be working towards college programmes or things like the Duke of Edinburgh awards. We want people to post content on relevant social media sites before, during and after the event – ensuring that what we achieve on the day spreads far beyond the venue rooms.

What does digital content from these events look like?

One of the events UKGovCamp supported earlier this year was CommsCamp14 in Birmingham, which I went along to. To summarise:

“So, this is a round-up of 8 videos, 2 vines, 162 pictures, 15 blogs, 8 storifies, 1 infographic and 7 useful links posted as a result of commscamp.”

Click here for the links to all that’s mentioned in the above quotation. To give you an idea of what video footage in a community action context might look like, have a look at the digital video below which was from an event about the future of the Mill Road Depot in Cambridge.

Avril, the woman giving the presentation has experienced homelessness herself. Her insights at the event were a complete education for me. There were things she taught all of us that we were not previously aware of. Watch the video in full for yourself. Ask yourself what new insights you learnt. This indicates one of the many positives I hope will come out of the event: People interacting with others who they otherwise might not meet on a regular basis.

An example of using digital video to share information – again in a Cambridge context is the Cambridge Lakes project. Some of you may not be aware of the three large lakes that were once quarries situated at the far eastern end of Mill Road just beyond the Coldhams Lane Sainsbury’s. Steve Turville who runs Limoncello in Cambridge has been the driving force behind the idea. I filmed this presentation at a community meeting in July 2014.

With up to ten workshops happening simultaneously, having people covering the workshops will be incredibly useful for everyone – especially those who cannot make the event. Despite the not-brilliant quality of my digital filming (I only started properly in the summer), the feedback has been overwhelmingly positive.

If you are interested in live-reporting via Twitter (we’re also on it @BeTheChangeCam), posting useful links onto our Facebook page, taking photographs and short film clips and/or writing post-event blogposts or even showing guests how to use social media, please get in touch with me – Antony at antonycarpen [at] gmail [dot] com.

An example of filming at an event - in this case me at Hitchin's Rhythms of the World Festival. Photo credit Penny Homer @SocialSoprano

An example of filming at an event – in this case me at Hitchin’s Rhythms of the World Festival. Photo credit Penny Homer @SocialSoprano

 Posted by at 2:40 pm