Across the world Fellows are working together on innovative new approaches designed to have a positive impact on the communities they live and work in. One new idea which has recently been attracting a lot of interest is the RSA Reboot events which are designed to support Fellowship collaboration and networking. Intrigued I caught up with Roxanne Persaud (RP) @Commutiny, Fellowship Councillor for London, who developed the Reboot format, and Alex Dunedin (AD) @RaggedTalks, a Fellow from Scotland who has recently been working in London and attended the second London Reboot, to find out more.
Jamie Cooke (JC) – So what is Reboot?
RP - Reboot is a series of free, lively evenings where Fellows can meet each other as ‘professional friends’ to share their work and interests. Last year I worked with Jemima Gibbons (former Chair of the RSA Digital Engagement Group) and came up with the idea of ‘rebooting’ the local network. We know that face-to-face meetings are the foundation for building productive networks and that the online reports are very helpful for people who can’t make it to events – they can still get connected. So it’s important that we have a lively Web presence and we encourage Fellows to join in. The pilot event was very successful so I’m now putting one on every other month as part of the regional programme. You can see the summary of the first Reboot here and a great roundup of last one here– as an eclectic and energised room of social media savvy people, the tweets were flying thick and fast!.
A lot of energy amongst the attendees
AD - Very simply, the evening starts out with a light conversation and people pottering in; everyone tries to bring a nibble or a bottle of wine etc; then, over the night, three rounds of ‘micro-presentations’ go on where a clutch of fellows get to ‘sound bite’ what they are doing to everyone in the room and invite input. This is casual, and after each short session, there is speed networking swaps going on where we find out who is in the room and where their interests lay.
JC – Why is that attractive for Fellows?
AD - As a relatively new fellow, this was the tonic I needed to put a face on why I was a fellow. As we all know, the web-side of the RSA is being revamped and there are plenty of formal events which are staged but, for me, there was a great need to be able to connect with and meaningfully communicate with other people in the collective. It is implied in the word ‘fellowship’ and it was the community which attracted me to the RSA; we need to reach out across our silo walls.
Seems Reboot was a hit with attendees!
RP – There are more than 8,000 Fellows in London with an inspiring diversity of projects we could be connecting to in order to make a difference in society, develop new ways of working, and more. But we’re mostly missing out, especially if you can’t get to the public lectures or easily participate in the online networks. The feedback we got showed that Fellows enjoyed the events enormously and described them as stimulating, interesting, inspiring, useful and fun.
As a relatively new fellow, this was the tonic I needed to put a face on why I was a fellow
JC – What sort of topics were covered at the recent event?
RP – The programme represents the diversity of Fellowship and alternates between rapid presentations and facilitated speed networking sessions. The first one had the theme of ‘Positive Deviants: how left-field thinking solves problems’ and the featured projects included Jubiloo, Voice of Freedom, 3Space, Bloomsbury Babies, Street Doctors and Full Fact. The speakers were allowed to talk about any type of project or initiative they wanted – the only requirement was that they needed some kind of input – whether it be skills, support or funding – from other FRSA. In February we heard about Lightyear Foundation, Project Access, Metro, Costume Institute of the African Diaspora, 3-2-1 Ignition, #KnowYoureSkilled and Alex Dunedin’s Ragged Project.
AD – It was also a useful opportunity to engage with the work of the London Regional team. Roxanne took the chance to present on the Rolling Development Plan of the region. This allowed for a space for participants to give feedback and input to the Plan, surely a sensible way to ensure that it is relevant to Fellows across the region.
JC – So you’ve fired me up, and I want know more. How can I get involved? And could I run my own Reboot event in another part of the world?
The networking kept up to speed with the input of a vuvuzuela
RP – If you’re in London look out for announcements in the regional mailing, then sign up to attend or use the ‘contact the organiser’ button if you want to speak (like the RSA public events team we use Eventbrite as it’s free and easy to use). If you can get to London events easily, ask your regional team to put you on the mailing list. We don’t tend to set up the programme far in advance so there’s always the chance to speak. We even manage to slot in an open mike session for Fellows who get fired up during the event and want to present to the whole crowd. Reboot is ‘open source’ so we encourage everyone to adopt the format. A great place to start is Jemima’s blog about the pilot event which includes a lot of practical tips. Reboot has also been shared as ‘best practice’ at Fellowship Council so your elected representatives should know a bit about it. We’re always looking to improve so use a very light touch yet very important evaluation process – if you Reboot your local network it would be brilliant to compare notes.
JC – Any last thoughts you would like readers to take away about Reboot?
This is precisely what being a FRSA is about for me...It stimulated, it expanded, it amplified – I want more!
RP – In London the events are always well supported by Fellows who generously provide meeting places, who bring food and drink to share and who come with the objective of making the most of the network. The next step is to run events in partnership with the Fellowship thematic networks (Arts, Social Entrepreneurs, Catalyst Winners…). I’d like Fellows to make Reboot their own and move on to finding new ways to link up and support activity in the region. We have almost a third of the Fellowship – the possibilities are endless!
AD - This is precisely what being a FRSA is about for me. Come along to the next one for a successful, accessible, fun, interesting and constructive evening - I recommend it. It was a chance to clarify how many people share common goals and meet together in Fellowship. It stimulated, it expanded, it amplified – I want more!
Jamie Cooke is Deputy Head of Fellowship, with responsibility for the Specialist Programme team. You can follow him @JamieACooke or connect with him on LinkedIn