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Converging our World. I’ve been a Fellow of the RSA for just over a year after receiving a Young Fellows Bursary. I have been sharing an enthusiasm for launching and supporting social and environmental action projects. During our monthly meet-ups for 20-30+ Fellows, it became apparent that other Fellows in the wider area were doing amazing things to address issues they’d identified in their communities and beyond.

Examples of projects include Dorian Tallbody’s Webcraft Worldwide, Peter’s Open Clinical and the well-established Driving Ambition project led by Peter Jordan in Banbury. However, as is often the case in Oxfordshire, amazing and innovative initiatives spring up all the time – but operate in silos! I wanted to find a way to bring these projects together to benefit from exposure to other FRSAs and friends.

Last October, I was reading a book titled The Converging World which contains a series of case studies detailing community empowerment and sustainable development initiatives. One such case study outlined the life-cycle of a waste-reducing scheme called Go Zero which started in Bristol. The ideation stage of this international project occurred during a series of Coffeehouse Challenges organised by an FRSA in Bristol - a nod to the 18th Century Enlightenment roots of the RSA. The outcome was in effect mini consultations which provided FRSAs the platform to self-organise around an issue they felt passionate about and collaborate on bringing about change.

From this the idea of an RSA Motivate event was born – when I shared this with Peter and The House, a small team of like-minded Fellows gathered momentum. The result after 4 months of planning was a success – 300 people (Exhibitors, Speakers and visitors) in Oxford Town Hall for a full day of networking, action planning and showcasing!

Like the Coffee House challenges in Bristol, the projects and organisations interacting during RSA Motivate on 10th June fell under five categories:

  1. Encouraging Enterprise
  2. Moving Towards a Zero-Waste Society
  3. Fostering Resilient Communities
  4. Developing a Capable Population
  5. Advancing Global Citizenship

It was envisioned that a few stands in a small hall might attract maybe 100 people throughout the day. Peter had something on a larger scale in mind. The outcome was that the hard work of a group of roughly 10 volunteer FRSAs had come together to deliver an all-day event which we believe is an exemplar not only for an annual event in Oxford, but in other areas where RSA Fellowship is flourishing. We featured and look forward to sharing how:

  • Over 30 stands representing different social and environmental projects and organisations from across Oxfordshire and beyond;
  • Twenty-four speakers on topics ranging from Artificial Intelligence to the Sustainable Development Goals
  • The launch of a sponsored competition
  • A purpose-built website; www.rsaoxfordshire.org.uk
  • Representation from both Universities and the Local Enterprise Partnership.

It was exciting and energising to see everyone present engaging with each other and sharing their passion for changing the world for the better. This is especially true of the Fellows who volunteered their time to get RSA Motivate off the ground Dorian Tallbody (website designer), Amira Remadna (IT support), Don Mclaverty (fund raising) and Wendy Stone (coordination and planning) - to name a few.

I feel confident that those who attended felt it was valuable, either professionally or personally, and that if it were to happen again even more people and projects would engage. Lessons learnt include allowing for more time and resources to promote locally, and finding venues with better acoustics.

In the meantime, RSA Motivate Oxford lives on! The competition with some local sponsorship is live! We’re inviting multi-disciplinary teams to come together to address an issue they’ve identified. The winner will receive some cash, but more importantly, support in kind from our generous sponsors. For more details on the competition and RSA Motivate visit www.rsaoxfordshire.org.uk

Our website is constantly being updated with feedback from RSA Motivate participants and announcements in more detail to supplement those sent to Fellows via The House. We welcome online contact and visits leading to engagement with like-minded Fellows and others world-wide. Oxford attracts many visitors from all over the globe. However, we subscribe to the phrase “act local - think global”. Watch this space!

Contact Louis Horsley FRSA at office@rsaoxfordshire.org.uk

 

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