Great day out in Exeter yesterday with South West Fellows. The evening reception was fun - it's always nice to talk to Fellows old and new - but the high point of the day was the afternoon session with Committee members and invited Fellows.
In this session, we discussed half a dozen ideas for Fellowship projects in the South West - these ranged from the RSA helping to turn the historic Beer Quarry Caves into a World Heritage site through to giving young people a stronger voice in Exeter.
As we talked it became clear that some projects offered more as RSA initiatives than others, and this process of encouraging Fellows to develop ideas, then discussing them critically but positively, and working out the next stage as ideas turn into initiatives is exactly how I see RSA Networks developing.
Of course, we are at a very early stage - we need lots more ideas and we need to understand that this is about RSA initiatives rather than just supporting existing ideas and organisations. We also need to be realistic - out of, say, 20 good ideas only a handful will result in further engagement and possibly only 1 into an RSA initiative.
However, I am confident that in a few years' time we will have a whole database of successful RSA initiatives from around the country - this will be an incredibly valuable learning tool, showing what works in one part of the country and could be adapted for another.
The development of the Networks project, without a strong history of activism to rely on, is the steepest part of the learning curve. But in the enthusiasm, camaraderie and willingness to engage and be engaged that I saw in the SW yesterday lies the future for the RSA Fellowship.