The second meeting of the Dundee Wave of Change core team took place on 26th January 2010 and there was loads of creativity, ideas and passion for how we can engage communities in the project.
Introduction by Gerry Hassan (Scottish Wave of Change project manager)
Gerry welcomed everyone and introduced the event. He recapped on the background to the Scottish Wave of Change project (which you can find here) and talked about the aims of Dundee Wave of Change.
Using the Olympic values (listed below) as a launching pad – but also considering our own values – what is really important to us as we imagine our future?
The Olympic Values
The Olympic values can be used as a starting point to imagine a different future Dundee:
The Scottish Wave of Change initiative is inviting people to think about:
- the values of a future Scotland
- ideas of change, participation and involvement
- new forms, ideas and practices of democracy
- Scotland’s changing place in international change
Promoting the Olympic values, the work and events organised by Dundee Wave of Change will be about making space, engaging and creating opportunity for folks to imagine Dundee’s potential and sharing stories of what our city could be like in 2020.
Roles and communication
Joe Lafferty then summarised the role and purpose of the core team including his and Steve Carter’s role as facilitators working with Gerry Hassan as national project manager.
Participants then split into two groups to explore two key issues.
1. COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT EVENTS
The groups explored a series of questions about community engagement such as “how can we engage communities in the Dundee Wave of Change process?” and “which two communities could we start with?”.
As about 40% of the group were not at the previous meeting, there was an initial discussion about clarifying what the Dundee Wave of Change was about, followed by a very creative dialogue around ideas and ways of achieving the goals and purpose.
Engaging with the whole city – A key question raised was “how do we engage the WHOLE city in this dialogue – not just the ‘usual suspects’? From this came a discussion about how we create safe spaces for people to share their stories and their current reality as well as to open up and begin to dream about the future.
The group realised that this was not a simple question and would take some thinking, as well as appropriate places, tools, models and approaches to address. This is further complicated by the fact that conversations might look like they just happen but actually there are a lot of rules or protocols involved, almost all unspoken. So issues of power are very important and questions to be asked are “who’s structuring this conversation and for what purpose?” and “what is the level of trust?”.
Where to start? – One group focused on what communities to start with and spoke initially about ‘thematic’ communities such as football supporters and young people (e.g. student age, but from different backgrounds – so not only university/college students but also those who had not engaged in further or higher education). Gerry shared an idea that they used in Glasgow with ‘thought collectors’ on trains between Edinburgh and Glasgow which worked really well.
The question of the geographic locations of communities was explored and there were a couple of suggestions.
(a) City centre – With all the regeneration work going on, what are people thinking and feeling about life in Dundee city centre? How do they see it? How are they responding to the changes and opportunities?
(b) The other suggestion was to work with an established community group – not re-invent the wheel, and also work where there are established relationships. There is some interesting work in Coldside/Mayfield taking place on which Dundee Wave of Change might be able to ‘piggy back’, subject to agreement.
Discussion at the second group concentrated on improving the image of Dundee and the role that communities can play in this. Ideas discussed were:
20 Venues project – Unlike Dundee’s historically successful industries, its currently most successful economic activities (life sciences, digital media) take place largely behind closed doors. In order to raise awareness and understanding of the new, post-industrial Dundee it is proposed that various key venues should be opened up (physically and in terms of their activity) over the course of a weekend or a few days in order to celebrate and illuminate their contribution to the city’s current and future success. It would be important to bring to life the key activities that take place within the venues and to create opportunities for story-telling and dialogue (wee blethers).
Dundee video project – Identify a group of (for example) recovering drug users and a group of academics and get them to work together to produce a video of how they experience life in Dundee and their hopes for the future of the city. Show the video at various venues around the city and use the screenings to prompt dialogue and story-telling about Dundee, i.e. wee blethers. The actual groups taking part in the project might differ but the idea would be to bring together people with diverse experiences of living in Dundee.
Keyholder project – Over the course of a week, scan the Courier and/or the Evening Telegraph for the word “future” and then track the subject of each newspaper story over a period of 1-2 years. Use the results to monitor various strands in the life of the city.
Poem competition – Organise a competition to compose poems which tell stories about life in the City of Dundee.
DUNDEE’S BIG BLETHER
The idea of a Big Blether for Dundee had been raised at the previous (launch) meeting and was further developed by the discussion groups. Key proposals and guidance points were:
- Organise a huge gathering in Dundee city centre and prompt/facilitate opportunities for dialogue and debate among the people of the city.
- The current vision for the city is largely tied to infrastructure, therefore use ‘Big Blether’ to expand the vision to include the social & cultural needs & opportunities within the city. Recognise that planning the social and cultural aspects of Dundee will be a more chaotic process than planning the infrastructure.
- Make sure that the Big Blether is fun, has a strong brand and is memorable.
- Get communities from all aspects of Dundee (e.g. geographical, employment, interest) to participate in sharing their stories about life in the city and their vision for the future.
- People like to ‘get things off their chest’ but it is often difficult to capture that energy.
- Use a web site to capture views and extend participation in the Big Blether.
- Make sure that “somebody official” listens to the output from the Big Blether event.
- Must harness the energy of the Big Blether project and use it to make positive change happen within the city.
- Big Blether project needs to have distinct, tangible outcomes but is also important in terms of creating a ‘feel good factor’ within the city.
- Organise a series of ‘Blether at Breakfast’ events focussing on different issues pertinent to Dundee.
Summing up and next steps
Steve and Joe agreed to feed back a summary to participants via e-mail and also the Go Dundee web site.
Steve and Joe will discuss the various project ideas with Gerry with a view to carrying out two pilot Dundee Wave of Change events in March/April 2010.