Guest blog from Catalyst Award winner, Andy Green FRSA
We have all been involved or taken part in community regeneration and felt the frustration of reinventing the wheel, the same ideas cropping up again like hardy perennials.
We have all had an idea to improve the neighbourhood or the community for the better. Often others have had a similar idea, or want to grow and develop in some way? Ideas need a repository, a positive space, a home to flourish. These were just some of the thoughts that led to creating what might be Britain’s first independent community ‘ideas bank’.
I live in Barry Island, if you have watched ‘Gavin & Stacey’ I’m a real-life incarnation with East End boy meets Barry girI. With a background in creativity, innovation and my experience in running a not-for-profit social enterprise, the Flexible Thinking Forum, along with an interest in open source innovation, crowdsourcing and co-creation - you have the heady mixture of motives that led to Barry IdeasBank.
The aim of IdeasBank is to be more than a website, but also an online resource where anyone can submit their idea to improve their local area. It also needs to engage offline, facilitating face-to-face contact using PechaKucha methodology at its heart. In addition to the online resource we host Barry Kucha events featuring 7 speakers speaking for 7 minutes, encouraging short, diverse ideas on a range of subjects. This approach seemed to personify the essence of the whole venture: although a web site may be at its hub, at the heart of any change in a community are committed individuals with ideas.
Serendipity came during an innovation talk I delivered in Nottingham. In the audience was a software company, Crowdicity, who produced specialist crowdsourcing systems. They recognised the opportunity of providing me with a beta test facility for their new applications.
With funding from UnLtd and RSA Catalyst the pilot scheme for the IdeasBank become a reality. Now, hopefully with further constructive input from RSA colleagues, there is tremendous potential for the Barry IdeasBank to serve both the Barry community and act as a model for implementation elsewhere in the UK, and indeed, around the world.
The fledgling site offers tremendous potential, with many lessons already learnt, yet some key challenges to face. Following a soft launch for the initiative we had our first
‘Barry Kucha’ evening with over 70 people attended the event which included demonstrations of the IdeasBank. So far we have over 60 registered users, 50 ideas submitted and receive between 10-40 visitors a day plus we have a twitter account with over 600 followers.
Andy Green FRSA
Andy will be providing further updates on the Barry Ideas project over the coming months.