Following our Development & Networking meeting yesterday, we said that we would get out a few notes about the discussion we held.
First it was noted that GlobalNet21 is now a substantial network with over 4,000 members on the meetup site as well as over 2,000 on Linkedin, almost 1500 on Facebook as well as a large mailing list and twitter following. This was a substantial network of people wanting to engage in discussion around the major issues of the 21st century and to develop networks for appropriate action. We also have links with Universities, Corporations, NGOs and many MPs who host meetings for us in the House of Commons.
It was felt that meetings we hold does attract a wide network of people from all walks of life and that the public and community engagement that we carry out can be inspirational in developing new ideas and forging links across organisational and cultural boundaries.
Because of the wide nature of the network it was felt that we needed to develop several different styles of meetings in both content and format to cater for differing interests. We already hold large set piece meetings often in the House of Commons to engage MPs, larger meetings to discuss major issues and webinars that attract a growing global audience. It was felt we also needed to develop other types of meetings as well.
One suggestion was an open meeting where people could come and declare their interests and then find others who shared that interest. This was a method used by a number of organisations including the Youth Service and Nikki Brooker agreed to see how we can pilot a meeting of this kind.
It was also noted that we had started House meetings in the previous year where people offered their home for smaller meetings where specific issues could be explored in depth. At least three people at the meeting last night offered to hold House Meetings and one person had also told us that he would offer his House in Central London for regular meetings of this kind. There are also 15 to 20 people who have indicated on their profiles that they would do House Meetings and Christina said she would get these up and running with the first possibly next month.
We also talked about the PICTs Festival 2012 that is being held on May 19th that Christina is facilitating with PhotoVoice and also organising. This will provide a chance for people to exhibit their work around photography and social change. There would also be workshops and smaller discussions facilitated at the event. Christina asked for offers of help on the day.
Jazz Rasool talked about the GlobalNet21 Blog that we are now turning into a Citizen Journalist Blog as GlobalNet21 has become a Beacon Hub for The Media Trust Citizen Journalist Project. The Blog will contain four areas of activity – blogging itself that Jazz and Christina will overlook, Podcasting that Francis will overlook and a piczone that Christina will organise. It was noted that the Piczone needs some substantial development before our Exhibition on May 19th to link into it and Christina said that this would happen from next week.
It was also noted that GlobalNet21 needed to develop more collaborative activities where people can get together to take further action around issues that are important to them. The fourth section of the Blog – the hangout zone – was designed to do just that so that people can collaborate around issues of mutual interest. It was also noted that the lists of people attending meetings are also a good source of contacts to encourage and facilitate collaboration and Jazz is helping to develop the process whereby we can make this possible by linking people with shared interests.
Discussion also took place on the importance of linking our activities in public engagement with a learning and knowledge base. Jazz mentioned the fact that GlobalNet21 has an eLearning Moodle site. We were also developing a number of podcasts to provide a knowledge base around many of the subjects we discuss. We are also developing links with Universities to involve them in what we do and already three to four Universities are actively working with us. We hope to expand this University base in the coming year and to also involve other areas of education including schools.
It was also noted that we should find ways of letting network members know about what is already going on in the areas of social action rather than re-invent the wheel ourselves – and providing links with organisations already active was an important service that we could and should offer.
It was generally felt that what we are doing is important in a century where there is much confusion about the future and where discussion and dialogue is much needed.
The networking after the meeting was very active and many made new contacts there and developed ideas about future events and activities as well as talk to others about projects that they themselves were involved in.
What was clear was that having development and networking meetings like this on a regular basis was important to develop new ideas and also approaches to the process of public engagement.