Sunday, 13 September 2015

Local Democracy Maker Day 2015

At 8am on Thursday I left my house to attend the Local CIO Council, Place as a Platform event in London. Travelling to Leeds that night, the next day I ran Local Democracy Maker Day a fringe event of LocalGovCamp and then attend the main LocalGovCamp on Saturday. I returned home at midnight on Sunday, so if this comes across as a bit of a brain-dump, hopefully you'll understand as I'm writing this just few hours later.

The first observation I have about the three events is that they were attended by different combinations of the some of the same people. Dave Briggs joked about a self regarding clique in his introduction to LocalGovCamp, but collectively we need to make sure this isn't happening.

My second is that without Nick Hill, either of the LocalGovCamp days wouldn't have happened.

Local Democracy Maker Day was on the Friday, and first of all I need to thank everyone involved in making it happen. From initial discussions online, a meeting between LGMakers, LDBytes and Democracy Club at Birmingham City Council in the summer, to the event, I feel we've worked as a team.

Huge thanks to Carl Whistlecraft, Diane Sims, Sym Roe, Joe Mitchell, Ben Cheetham, Simon Gray the main organisers, and those including Dave McKenna and Rob Alexander who also contributed. Whenever I needed advice at various junctures on what might happen during the organisation of, or the running of the day, someone came back with a great suggestion which collectively we refined.

Though I mentioned a meeting in the summer, Local Democracy Maker Day really started in Huddersfield, at Not in Westminster 2015.

I'd run a maker day as a fringe event of LocalGovCamp in 2014, but it was a collection of unconnected challenges, and whilst it was enjoyable, personally I learnt a lot on how to run that sort of event, and it led to the Local Waste Service Standards Project that LocalGov Digital and Department for Communities and Local Government are currently working on, it wasn't really a continuation of anything.

LocalGov Digital is a network, and I think this should be reflected in the events it organises, and that in many cases they should collaboratively aid a process of improvement spanning across the various streams.

For Local Democracy Maker Day 2015, we took 15 of the outcomes from Not in Westminster 2015 and asked people to vote online on what we should work on; after all, it was a day about democracy. Based on this we chose three for the Maker Day and promoted them to the attendees, giving them time to formulate their ideas.

The make or break point of the day was when we asked people to come forward and pitch their ideas on the three challenges. I was both pleased and relieved when around ten people did, and from that point on I knew that we'd get something out of the day.

One of the highlights for me of when the teams were working on the challenges was when two of them decided to send some of their number out of the building to conduct guerilla research to corporate into their prototype.

Over the next couple weeks, we'll collate and publish all the outputs from each team. I think they'll prove useful to a wide range of people. I mentioned about the Maker Day being a continuation of work and we're planning another, this time as a fringe event of Not in Westminster 2016.

Ultimately Local Democracy Maker Day affirmed to me that the LocalGov Digital and in particular LGMakers should be facilitating the creation of tangible things, or to quote Carl Whistlecraft, "Getting stuff done". So similar to a company, the production and distribution of outputs (doing and sharing) supports the research and development (thinking).

I'll reflect on the main LocalGovCamp later, but that's quite enough thinking, doing and sharing for three days.
This blog is written by Phil Rumens, Vice-Chair of LocalGov Digital, lead for LGMakers and who manages the digital services team at a local authority in England.

The opinions expressed in this weblog are my own personal views and in no way represent any organisation I may have worked for, currently work for, might be thinking of working for, might not be thinking of working for or have never worked for. In fact having said that they, might not even be my views any more as I might have changed my mind so I wouldn't take any of it too seriously.