At least six of us involved in Connecting Londoners and Our Way Ahead are Fellows of the RSA (Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce). There's been a lot of discussion in the Fellows online forum about similarities between the challenges of connecting communities, and connecting the 29,000 RSA Fellows. Some 9000 of those are in London.
I've blogged extensively about the scope for collaboration with the RSA, most recently on how RSA and NESTA might support a new London collaborative. That was prompted by a presentation at the RSA by NESTA CEO Geoff Mulgan about his new book on collective intelligence, Big Mind.
The RSA encourages Fellows to set up networks - as detailed here.
I've floated the idea of making the CoP fully, or in part, an RSA network, and received support from other Fellows. I've now (February 4 2018) posted this comment in the Forum topic about network development. Login required, Fellows only.
How about an RSA network for network builders? Here's why …
I have now summarised latest developments for supporting civil society in London, where a group of us have been developing proposals to complement the rather centralised resource Hub proposals. I was able to present ideas for the Community of Practice - discussed in this topic - to the advisory group for the Hub on February 1.
We've reached the point where we need a good base for growing the network of people interested in network mapping, network building, storytelling, and self-organising.
As discussed in this topic thread, these are issues that relate both to civil society - London and everywhere else - and also to the Fellowship. The RSA encourages Fellows to set up networks, and there now some 15 around different themes. Networks can have Fellows and non-Fellows as members, and receive support from staff, as well as benefiting from the RSA brand and promotion.
So how about a network for network builders and connectors? The page about setting up a network suggests drafting some 200 words to promote it, so I jotted down these thoughts before approaching RSA network staff.
Connectingcommunities.network is open to anyone interesting in how we can use network thinking and technology to help people live well in the digital age. We are exploring network mapping, self-organising and storytelling in local communities and networks for social action.Our network developed from a year's exploration into London as a Networked City, and one continuing focus is creation of new infrastructure for civil society. Other areas of exploration and development are how to address social isolation, and what Smart Cities will mean for young people and older people.Our aim is to map and help connect existing area of expertise and activity, through people who are acting as connectors and agents for change in different fields. The challenge for the network - and for social change - is how to combine cooperation and collaboration with opportunities for personal learning and benefit.We are supported by the RSA, as a member of the Society's family of thematic, regional and local networks developed by Fellows and staff. Where possible we will draw on RSA research and the enormous range of expertise in the Fellowship. Network members may apply to become Fellows.As well as meeting in London and elsewhere, we'll make extensive use of online systems, learning how to blend different methods for connecting in the digital age.
I've tested the idea on a few Fellows involved in the London initiative, and network development elsewhere, and got a positive response. What do you think? I can break this into a separate topic if there is much interest.
I'll now discuss further with RSA Fellows, and RSA staff, to see if there is a fit. The latest proposals for the CoP involve creation of an online forum using the same software as the RSA Fellow Forum. There has been some discussion about hosting RSA networks on that forum, but it is currently Fellows-only, so it may be better to set up something separately but share content where appropriate.