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A Community of Practice for connecting communities: summary

Papers prepared by David Wilcox 2017-18.

The essence of the proposals here is that London citizens, groups and organisations need better networked communication and support, as traditional voluntary sector systems are reduced, and technology changes our economy and society. Details here of the Networked City exploration underpinning these proposals.

This is now recognised in by the Hub for London, which has advertised the role of Networks Partner. The responsibilities are:

  1. To offer support to civil society groups through the development and coordination of networks and forums, and by supporting existing networks (i.e. CVS Directors and Volunteer Centre networks) with a focus on co-production
  2. To harness the use of technology and develop new online forums and networks where civil society groups and partners can network and communicate
  3. To support on the development of new alliances where a need is identified
  4. To identify and link various networks to strategic leads across London via signposting and liaison
  5. To develop and expand existing partnerships to increase collaboration and the sharing of resources
  6. To establish new partnerships across London based upon key thematic programmes of work
  7. Provide a range of training and support programmes in line with the needs of the civil society groups and networks, including sourcing trainers, venues and implementing an evaluation process
  8. To identify training gaps and develop a training and development strategy to support the needs of the civil society within London
  9. Develop key programmes of work to share best practice and profile minimum standards for civil society organisations (i.e. minimum standards for organisations working with volunteers)
  10. Create online resources hubs, whereby materials, research and best practice models can be shared and used to inform future developments

However, the developments needed cannot be achieved solely through one post at the Hub. We need a community and network of change agents, with skills in network mapping and building, digital technology and self-organising, to work with those already engaged in the field.

We hope that the CoP will both provide opportunities for mutual support and learning among CoP members, and will also lead to some specific outcomes:

  • A core map of community and network builders, who are using data, mapping, digital technology and other creative methods to develop a more Networked City
  • Maps and communication systems to underpin further development of pan-London networks, like those in Our Way Ahead, and collaborations between them
  • Further support for networks like Reclaim our Spaces, working with JustMap
  • Development of new or existing local maps and communication systems, to support the original aims of The Way Ahead - see appendix.
  • The basis for a co-production network, as recommended by one of The Way Ahead Working groups. Further development of our Living Lab workshop simulations

See also ideas from Nicolas Fonty and Barbara Brayshay for a Metropolitan Civic Platform

We discussed these ideas further at an event of March 27 2018, and created a map of potential CoP members. We will shortly invite them to join our forum and develop CoP plans further.


The context for these proposals for a Community of Practice is threefold:

  • plans by London Funders and Greater London Volunteering to develop a Hub for London as a resource centre for London civil society. This was the key recommendation from a report on The Way Ahead
  • an exploration by Connecting Londoners and Our Way Ahead concluding that a networked approach is needed, complementing or extending the work of the Hub.

As a member of the advisory group for the Hub for London, representing Our Way Ahead until February 2018, I prepared a paper that aimed to draw together all recommendations and find common ground between The Way Ahead initiative, Connecting Londoners and Our Way Ahead.

I presented the final proposals for a CoP - 4 below - at a meeting of the advisory group on February 1. The group agreed to consider them further. I retired from the group because I want to promote the idea of the CoP independently, and as a freelance feel there could be conflict of interest in seeking funding.

1. Initial model for a Community of practice October 2017

In summary: bring together a group of people interested in how to build networks and support network-based action. Develop both a learning network and practical activities that can attract clients and funding. Use the network tools to learn how to build networks in practice.

2. CoP discussion after the Hub game in November 2017

A workshop on November 16 2017 at London Metropolitan University took the key elements from official reports on the Hub - the challenges, ideas and methods to develop solutions - and turned these into props for a role-playing game. Discussion at the end centred around developing a platform for change agents, or Community of Practice. We followed up with a meeting of people interested, in December.

3. Proposals for a Community of Practice to Hub for London

I prepared these more detailed proposals in November 2017, on behalf of Connecting Londoners and Our Way Ahead, for the advisory group on the Hub for London, of which I was a member at the time.

4. Summary of CoP proposals for advisory group to the Hub for London

I presented these proposals to the Hub for London advisory group on February 1 2018

The diagram builds on proposals in the documents Extending the Hub and a Community of Practice for networking London civil society, referenced above. In summary what’s needed is a community of people keen to learn how to build networks bottom-up and bottom-across in local communities and pan-London, together with support, service providers, and advisers. Activities would include meet-ups, an online platform, and on-the-ground activities to map and build networks.

5. Setting up an RSA network

One of the options I'm exploring is setting up a Community of Practice/network with support from the RSA, because at least six of us involved in Connecting Londoners and Our Way Ahead are RSA Fellows.

More about Networked City, Connecting Londoners and Our Way Ahead

cop/copindex.txt · Last modified: 2018/05/16 05:06 by davidwilcox