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What have I been doing this week?

  • Lots of time this week has continued to be on our Covid-19 immediate funding response. Speaking to organisations, supporting the compiling of proposals, doing grant uplifts and variations, sitting on decision-making panels — all with the aim of getting money out to organisations that are on the frontline of the crisis. A few stats below show how we are doing —

Our cross-sector Connection Coalition is a growing network of organisations, charities, companies and groups united in our belief that we can build a better future for everyone by building strong relationships and connected communities.

  • I caught up with Catherine, my old colleague at Doteveryone. She shared with me an advanced copy of the People, Power and Technology: 2020 Digital Attitudes Report that they are launching on Monday. It’s excellent so look out for that.
  • A short catch up with Roland Harwood who reminded me to listen to his latest podcast episode with Dave Snowden.
  • The National Lottery Community Fund UK Portfolio has linked up with Demos Helsinki and Untitled in advance of their festival in June. I’m working with Outi, Roope , Dan and his colleague Tammar Zea-Wolfson to develop an approach for social imagination that can be used with local communities. We had our first design session this week.
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The legend Vandana Shiva on the left and another legend (and dear friend of mine) Sam Roddick, on the right.
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Miro board from the Climate KIC gathering.
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Two of Charlie’s slides
  • I joined the Operations Response Group for the first time, which is where a group of senior colleagues meet each week to coordinate an enormous amount of complex operations in relation to our Covid-19 response. The UK Portfolio now has a strand of work exploring the medium and longer-term possibilities for civil society, and for it to be useful in terms of informing funding policy across the fund it needs to be operationalised. I’m so impressed by how many different things colleagues are juggling and navigating at the moment, all with their own personal contexts to cope with too.
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Snippets from the Operations Response Group planning documents.
  • We had the second of our event series with the RSA — The makings of an alternative system in response to the Covid-19 crisis. 26 people and organisations attended and the focus was on “exploring some broad unifying principles and themes that emerged in session 1, and digging into the role, potential and organising capacity of this group to create change.” More on that below.
  • To end my week I spent Thursday evening in an online event hosted by my friend Anna Murray and her organisation, Patternity. I welcomed the space for creativity (something that we need to value so much more in the months and years ahead) and connection — and of course the opportunity to discuss and reflect on patterns and patterning.
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What I have learnt

One of the greatest learning experiences I had this week was co-hosting the event with the RSA. It tapped in to something I had already been feeling and just surfaced it more acutely. There are lots of notes in a shared document from the event, but they are not mine to be the author of, so I will share just two summary points that felt really important to me.

Is it possible or desirable or necessary to create a big tent. Is it important and an appropriate contribution right now?

  • So many people and organisations (who are privileged with time and resource) are trying to make sense of what happens next, and some are also trying to be the ‘network of networks’ or as per the comment above, ‘the big tent.’ I really liked the question of whether this is an appropriate response at this time and believe that what is more important is to listen, sense and feel our ways together through this. The people who can do this well, create an iterative listening and learning infrastructure as they go, are what is needed right now. Related to this, I have seen so many people group with those they know, or with those that are like them, to have these conversations, but isn’t this a time for holding conversations with those we couldn’t or didn’t before?

Are we trapped by old visions? Now is the time to raise the game and ambition…..and our understanding of the world.

  • Someone rightly pointed out, and they did at the previous gathering too, that many of the ideas people are proposing are those we’ve been talking about for the last 10 years. Do we not have any news ones? Are we really taking account of how little we understand this current context and the scale of the challenges we face? And most importantly, how is this crisis challenging our own notions and identities? — if it isn’t then perhaps we’re not ready to be part of shaping what happens next.

What has been important this week

We’ve finally turned the Scanning + Sensing Network approach that we are using into a toolkit, which is an open resource for anyone to use. We are into week 3 of this now, with 33 colleagues across the UK and are hoping that if others use it, we can find ways to create a wider scanning and sense-making infrastructure.

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Written by

Senior Head, UK Portfolio at The National Lottery Community Fund & Co-founder of the Point People. Previously Strategic Design Director at Doteveryone.

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