Mar 152015
 

Over fifty people – including the Mayor of Cambridge, Cllr Gerri Bird, took part in Be the change – Cambridge’s community action gathering at Anglia Ruskin University.

A first review by Antony Carpen

The Mayor opened our event which saw students representing Hills Road Sixth Form College, Cambridge Regional College and Chesterton Community College all making an important contribution to an afternoon of discussion, debate and problem-solving. The students also took part in an intensive cross-examination of Cambridge City Council’s planning and communities policies in a workshop with Cllr Richard Johnson, executive councillor for communities.

Students & activists cross-examining Cllr Richard Johnson on how to support grassroots charities & campaigns

Students & activists cross-examining Cllr Richard Johnson on how to support grassroots charities & campaigns

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jane Paterson-Todd, chief executive of Cambridge Ahead speaking on behalf of the host sponsors Anglia Ruskin University & Cambridge Ahead highlighted the importance of community groups and young people working with businesses and local councils in shaping Cambridge’s future – something that was reflected by the active participation of all that took part.

Open-space – participants designing the agenda

The event was expertly facilitated by Jennifer Jones, a community media researcher at the University of the West of Scotland. With extensive experience in community action and digital media, Jennifer provided the much-needed external challenge and alternative perspective on what is happening in Cambridge. For many of the participants, this was the first time they had experienced an event where they were invited to shape the timetable and content of workshops.

The Mayor of Cambridge with (L-R) Anne Bailey (Cambridge Area Partnership & co-founder, Be the change - Cambridge), Jennifer Jones (Host facilitator), Antony Carpen (Founder, Be the change - Cambridge), Lucy McMahon (Student volunteer, Chesterton CC), Cllr Gerri Bird, Mayor of Cambridge, Mr Alan Pooley, JP, Aaron Hurst (Student volunteer, Cambridge Regional College), Sharon Kaur (Workshop facilitator & community activist)

The Mayor of Cambridge with (L-R) Anne Bailey (Cambridge Area Partnership & co-founder, Be the change – Cambridge), Jennifer Jones (Host facilitator), Antony Carpen (Founder, Be the change – Cambridge), Lucy McMahon (Student volunteer, Chesterton CC), Cllr Gerri Bird, Mayor of Cambridge, Mr Alan Pooley, JP, Aaron Hurst (Student volunteer, Cambridge Regional College), Sharon Kaur (Workshop facilitator & community activist). Photo: Lucinda Price Photography

A desire to learn about housing and transport planning

Cambridge City Council’s Patsy Dell hosted an inspiring workshop on housing and planning functions in Cambridge. In the spirit of the event, participants discussed how community groups could work with councils to improve citizens’ understanding of how the planning system works – and how to improve it for the benefit of the city. This reflected earlier conversations with student representatives of Anglia Ruskin University Students’ Union where they expressed a desire to work with Cambridge City Council to ensure any future plans for student accommodation meet the needs of Anglia students while remaining sensitive to local residential communities.

‘My Cambridge’ – the arts and culture offer for the city

Rae Snape of the Kite Teaching Alliance and Jane Wilson of the Cambridge Live Trust led a workshop on their proposals for ‘My Cambridge’. The project’s goal is that “every young person in Cambridge is able to confidently construct their own cultural life, drawing on and feeling connected to the whole of the city in which they live.” Important actions for institutions include:

  • Establishing long term relationships between schools and cultural organisations.
  • Effective local research takes place
  • Decision-makers are given the right knowledge & tools to make effective decisions about their roles

The above are consistent with themes of long term planning – in particular ensuring co-ordination of events in both planning and publicity, along with the collection & sharing of information relevant to decisions that organisations need to make.

For those of you interested the plans that the Cambridge Live Trust has for Cambridge, note the Trust ‘goes live’ on 1st April with a series of events including a free musical extravaganza led by the Dowsing Sound Collective at the Cambridge Corn Exchange. Get your free tickets here!

Youth engagement, improving transport & cycling, and ideas on how Cambridge should be run

Participants discussed how Cambridge could improve youth engagement. They identified a number of changes that local schools and colleges needed to make to their systems and processes in order to build a city-wide culture of civic action. In particular, our student participants cited the timely provision of information on what’s available when they are making choices on college extra-curricular activities – such as Duke of Edinburgh Awards.

On improving transport, cycling and the future administration of Cambridge, participants appreciated the opportunity to discuss the issues in depth. This included but was not limited to the possibility of a unitary authority. Ideas on removing institutional barriers between frontline workers included GP surgeries having social workers co-located in the same building.

The way forward?

At the end of an inspiring & intensive afternoon, participants mentioned one of the most beneficial impacts of the event – and of the project was bringing people together from diverse communities & backgrounds to solve shared problems. A number of the more experienced and longstanding community activists recognised the passion & potential the student activists had – making a number of exciting connections between local college campaigns and longstanding community groups. We look forward to supporting them, inspiring more of the people of Cambridge to shape the future of our city.

We will be presenting the findings to Cambridge City Council – who we’re incredibly grateful for their support & participation. Feedback from Patsy Dell’s introduction to the planning system was particularly well-received in one of the afternoon’s most well-attended workshops.

Local charities benefit too!

As mentioned early on in the project, we committed to donating some of the sponsorship money raised for the projects to two local charities – Disability Cambridgeshire & The Dosoco Foundation. £500 will be split between these two charities, both of which are making significant positive contribution to the lives of many people in and around Cambridge.

Professional photographs and a professional video-maker

We commissioned Cambridge photographer Lucinda Price to cover our event. You can see an early selection of her photographs here. We also had the multi-talented Graham Copekoga filming throughout the afternoon, giving participants the experience of being filmed using broadcast standard equipment. As well as creating a medley video of the afternoon, Graham also filmed the end-of-afternoon feedback sessions, ensuring that we captured a much fuller record of the discussions, learning points and agreed actions.

Are we going to be doing this all over again next year?

Certainly the feeling in the room was that we should – with the possibility of teaming up with the Cambridge Hub following their highly successful Volunteer for Cambridge event a fortnight earlier. Both Volunteer for Cambridge and this event were the first events of this type in recent times in Cambridge. In both cases the feedback we’ve heard is that between us we proved the concepts worked. With this learning, we look forward to creating something even bigger & better next year!

Antony Carpen

 Posted by at 1:04 am
Mar 122015
 

We have been incredibly fortunate to have had the backing of a number of supporters and sponsors. One of the organisations that drove us to reach out to young people was Cambridge Ahead. We are delighted to have students from Hills Road and Long Road Sixth Form Colleges, along with students from Cambridge Regional College and Chesterton Community College taking part.

“Who are ‘Cambridge Ahead’?”

Have a look at this video

The chief executive of Cambridge Ahead, Jane Paterson-Todd, had the following to say about Be the change – Cambridge:

“At Cambridge Ahead our vision is for Cambridge to be the greatest small city in the world.  There is certainly the appetite for Cambridge to grow, however growing in an elegant manner is paramount, that offers a strong quality of life for all who live and work in Cambridge.  We need to have a view on the future and what Cambridge will become in 30 years time and start planning for it now.  

We know that Cambridge suffers from a shortage of housing, our education is underfunded, our roads are congested and our public transport system is limiting.   Fundamentally as representatives of big business and enterprise our eye is on the future, the next generation and ensuring Cambridge has all the ingredients required to make it a quality city to live in.  We are now looking at how we can address these key areas in housing, transport, skills and education working in support of and in consultation with the local councils.  

We are delighted to sponsor Be the Change and to get an insight from you, the next generation, on what your Cambridge should be.  We look forward and welcome your thoughts and ideas.”

Quality of life survey 2014

One of the pieces of research commissioned by Cambridge Ahead was their 2014 Quality of Life Survey. You can have a look at the results by clicking here. You can also here Cambridge 105′s Julian Clover radio report about the survey, which also features Prof Michael Thorne, Vice Chancellor of our hosts, Anglia Ruskin University – click here to listen.

If you’d like to find out more about Cambridge Ahead, you can find their contact details by clicking here.

Further viewing

For those of you interested in housing and transport issues, Be the change – Cambridge founder Antony Carpen has filmed discussions at some recent council meetings. They are as follows:

If you’ve not got your free ticket for Saturday, click here. So far, 80 people have signed up – almost twice as many as at our Conversation Cafe event in September 2014.

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 Posted by at 2:24 pm
Mar 102015
 

One of the pre-announced workshops we will have at our Community Action Gathering will be a workshop on the arts & culture offer for Cambridge. For this workshop, we have been working with and have had the kind support of the following:

Some of you will have also seen the brilliant e-luminate festival last month (Feb 2015). If you didn’t, here’s a glimpse of what you missed!

On 1st April 2015 Cambridge will see the formal launch of the Cambridge Live Trust. To help celebrate this, the brilliant Dowsing Sound Collective (of which Be the change – Cambridge founder Antony Carpen is a member of) will be hosting a free concert titled ‘Lungjam’ at the Cambridge Corn Exchange. ‘Hosting’ because you are invited to take part in the singing! You can book your free ticket here. Want to get a glimpse of what it might be like? Here’s the Dowsing Sound Collective at The Corn Exchange in December 2014.

The Dowsing Sound Collective concerts help raise money for the Dosoco Foundation – a music foundation that gives out grants for musical projects in Cambridge. Be the change – Cambridge will be making a donation to the Dosoco Foundation. Have a listen to founder Andrea Cockerton describing them to a packed Cambridge Corn Exchange and you’ll understand why we’re supporting them.

Bringing Cambridge’s arts organisations together

Have a look at the list of organisations that form the Cambridge Arts and Cultural Leaders Group here. Some of them you may be a regular visitor to. Others you might not have heard of before. In the context of ‘making Cambridge greater than the sum of our parts’, what do you think is the role for arts and cultural organisations in Cambridge? You’ll be able to discuss this and more at our community action gathering on Sat 14 March at Anglia Ruskin University. If you’ve not got your free ticket, click here. 70 people have already signed up via our Eventbrite & Meetup group pages. For anyone who is still unsure about what Be the change – Cambridge is about, have a look at our video below:

 Posted by at 3:17 pm