Andy Haldane marked his first day in the job with a virtual Fellowship Townhall in September. He looked to our past in fashioning a mission for the future - a future that Andy believes the RSA is uniquely placed to help build.
A new CEO, a new format and new ideas – Andy Haldane marked his first day as head of the RSA in September with our first virtual Townhall. More than 350 Fellows joined from around the globe, with key themes and messages emerging: a clearer focus on the core aims of the RSA, tapping into the expertise and energy of the 30,000 Fellows, reaching beyond the RSA to embed the organisation in local projects and businesses, and greater diversity and inclusion.
RSA US Director Alexa Clay opened the meeting before handing over to Andy. He addressed his unexpected new role - moving over to Government to work on the UK’s ‘levelling up’ programme - with some probing questions from staff and Fellows - but saw it as a ‘game-changing opportunity’ to help the RSA work more closely with outside organisations and industry.
Andy said he wanted to join the RSA as it’s ‘the right institution to tackle tomorrow’s challenges’, with a huge global Fellowship, but he also spoke about what the organisation can do better, such as fostering ‘a greater coherence, bringing our programmes together with a clearer mission’. This means making it easier for Fellows to speak to staff, and a clearer pathway to connect via the Fellowship Digital Services project. There will be lunches where Fellows can meet the CEO and ask questions, plus the Fellowship Festival.
Throughout, the focus was on the Fellows: growing the Fellowship, and fostering greater diversity and inclusion. Helping Fellows make connections with their local communities and commerce, and understanding their ideas. It all has to come from the Fellowship.
Fellows joined from around the planet to push Andy further on his aims for the organisation. Asked his biggest learning from the pandemic, Andy cited the co-operation between governments, industry, charities, the NHS and individuals in battling the pandemic. Any approach the RSA employs has to be practical and clear, but it is important not to lose the ‘sense of wonder’ that allows us to dream better futures and make them real.
Next up, Anthony Painter, Chief Research and Impact Officer, ran through the RSA’s four current programmes of work. The Future of Work, whose vision and approach centres around good work for all. The Learning Society, which enables everyone to develop passion for lifelong learning. Fair Education, to support a rich education and to enable communities and individuals to flourish. And the new Regenerative Futures programme, which was spotlighted in more depth in the second half of the event. The aim is for all programmes to have Fellow involvement, global scope and, in time, global impact. Here, the emphasis was on simplifying and supporting connections between Fellows and RSA staff and platforms, with easily accessible contacts for each programme. You can read more here about the RSA’s Living Change Approach, which underpins these programmes of work, to help people and organisations think systematically about the future and create real change.
Joanna Choukeir, Director of Design and Innovation, and Josie Warden, Head of Regenerative Design, shared the vision and approach for the new Regenerative Futures programme, where we learn from Earth’s living systems and help create a future where people and planet flourish together. Two Fellows shared details of their current projects. Sara Grady FRSA, co-founder of GRADY + ROBINSON, is working to create a new supply of leather made from hides of animals raised on regenerative farms, allowing consumers to recognise and reward farmers working ethically. Meanwhile, Rob Greenland FRSA, Co-Director of Zero Waste Leeds, is building a movement to help make Leeds a zero-waste city by 2030. One very practical result has been the city’s school uniform exchange, which has gone from zero to dozens of outlets in just months. A multiple win in cutting waste, helping hard-pressed families, and building community connections.
There’s a lot more, so if you missed the meeting you can watch it back here. This is the first of many, and the next Townhalls will be advertised through the Fellowship Newsletter and on our events page. Let's see what future conversations and ideas are sparked at the next Townhall, we hope you can join us!
The next Fellowship Townhall is taking place on Tuesday 18 January at 08:30 GMT. You can sign up to attend here.
If you missed the first Townhall and would like to watch it back, you can watch it here.