The original enlightenment coffeehouses were shaped by those who frequented them and Rawthmells is no different, with thousands of Fellows either submitting or voting on ideas about how the new coffeehouse will contribute to the RSA mission.
After a very close vote, Fellows chose five proposals to be ready in time for opening.
Olu Ajayi FRSA suggested creating a space where ideas sharing would lead to action to enrich society, Richard Watkins FRSA put forward a zone in the coffeehouse where conversation is expected and ideas are exchanged, Giles Gibson FRSA asked for walls that could be written all over to create an open and inviting collaborative space, Lee Bilson FRSA proposed creating a global network of satellite coffeehouses, and Gerard Darby FRSA advocated for partnerships with student societies and shared events to stimulate conversation.
These great ideas are already taking shape. Conversation will, of course, be encouraged throughout Rawthmells, but as Richard suggested we're also creating a Fellowship table, a dedicated space where taking a seat is an invitation to start talking. There will be a collaboration space as Olu proposed, with walls you can write all over (thank you for the inspiration Giles) and a screen to plug in your visual prompts. You'll also be able to share your ideas, find out about projects led by other Fellows, and about ways you can work together using the same software we used to crowdsource proposals for the coffeehouse. This space will be available to book (for no fee) so you'll know it's there when you need it; an open resource to support your plans for positive social change.
Following Gerard's suggestion we've reached out to the London School of Economics and Kings College London, to start exploring how to build productive, collaborative relationships with students nearby. We're also looking at how the students of our seven RSA Academies can benefit from the coffeehouse development.
The creation of Lee's global network of satellite coffeehouses will take a little more time, but we are exploring digital solutions for this and are also linking up with the #cupofchange initiative started by Claire Haigh FRSA and RSA local area manager Rachel Barker. I promise to keep you updated as plans progress.
Meanwhile, the Autumn opening is fast approaching and we'd love to hear what discussions you want to stimulate in the coffeehouse. Please send us your questions or challenges and we'll write a selection of them on our new collaboration walls ready for launch.