Our Society

Social action. Honest exchange. Grounded learning.


Our Society: A Guide

A collaborative space to contribute ideas to create a practical guide which is rich in stories, ideas and qualitative research. We will identify links with provisions in the Localism Act and emerging policy around Open Public Services, but this will be a bottom-up guide.

Members: 15
Latest Activity: Feb 24

An idea of how this might work

A few of us in Dudley have been reviewing a range of sources to draw up thinking around what change (and related support) is needed in relation to citizen and community influence in order to respond to public sector reform and localism in empowering ways. We would like to bring things together into a practical guide for colleagues, and hope that members of this Our Society network might be keen to join us, in the hope of crowdsourcing and discussing information which is useful for any area or organisation that is seeking to take an empowering approach (while recognising that we all have locally developed programmes and practice to build on).

To begin, I'm creating discussion threads in order to start grouping information, ideas and examples. Please feel free to dip in to any individual discussions or to initiate new discussion threads which you would find helpful. The starting discussion threads reflect a proposed structure for Dudley's version of Our Society: A Guide. These are drawn from David Wilcox's helpful blog on this site and are:

  1. Introduction - policy context and drivers, local activity etc. and articulation of a vision and an approach
  2. Changing roles - describing new and emerging roles, skills required to undertake them, support which might be needed and practical steps to move forward 
  3. Rethinking structures as networks and systems - evidence of this shift, local examples, online examples ... and practical steps to shifting thinking
  4. Identifying existing and new social assets - approaches to recognising and mapping assets, examples, practical support and advice
  5. Methods - toolkits, frameworks, knowledge hub, app store ideas and more
  6. Practical steps which a local area can take towards an empowering response to public service reform, localism, 'big society' etc. 

A note about language: we'd like to challenge the idea of citizens as consumers and 'users' of services in order to nurture a culture in which people are viewed as assets with something to offer to the planning, design, evaluation etc. of public services. In relation to this I'll start a discussion thread about language so that we can mull over which terms are helpful and fit our approach and message, and which are really unhelpful.

Discussion Forum

Local Experience

Started by Donna Roberts. Last reply by Donna Roberts Feb 24. 1 Reply

In this section we would love you to share your experiences of using different methods, frameworks or toolkits. What knowledge from citizens, community groups or organisations have you gained? It…Continue

Tags: toolkits, frameworks, methods

Identifying existing and new social assets

Started by Lorna Prescott. Last reply by Donna Roberts Feb 22. 6 Replies

What approaches are there to recognising and mapping assets?Has anyone got practical experience and/or examples?What practical support and advice could we give to people new to this approach?Things…Continue

Tags: social reporters, Handmade, people powered change, appreciating assets

Introduction to Our Society: A Guide

Started by Lorna Prescott. Last reply by Gavin Feb 22. 12 Replies

A place to begin discussing citizen and community influence in relation to public service reform, localism and other current policy. I hope that we can also start developing a vision for the…Continue

Tags: open public services, localism act

Rethinking structures as networks and systems

Started by Lorna Prescott. Last reply by Lorna Prescott Jan 27. 5 Replies

I guess that the kinds of things which might inform our thinking here include:online networksexamples of networks and networking within and across sectors and themes (e.g. community safety), the…Continue

Tags: open public services, local public support, connected communities, systems, networks

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Comment by Emma Lees on January 4, 2012 at 15:10

Thanks Lorna. It looks really good. Will have a good read.

Comment by Lorna Prescott on January 4, 2012 at 13:43

Just come across this beautiful document - perhaps some useful content but as I've only skimmed it I wanted to stick it here in terms of aspiration for friendly layout and design: http://www.carnegieuktrust.org.uk/carnegie/media/sitemedia/Publicat...

Comment by Phil Green on December 29, 2011 at 10:47

Hi Lorna, yes excellent idea to move assets to section 2, expecially if it can be done in a way which emphasises the citizen centred approach. Introducing any framework / map of connections, etc would seem to fit naturally within the intro section, wouldn't it?

So as a quick recap: Intro, assets, networks, roles, then resources/methods & practical steps (or these last 2 swapped round).

This has the advantage of following David's framework in anti clockwise order - I'm feeling the urge to redraw it with assets at the top! I'm also sensing a potential link between 'Sustainability planning' & 'practical steps' even though they might sound very different. We perhaps have a long way to go before we get to any widely shared understanding of what we might mean by 'Sustainability planning'? Dreadfully unsexy title? Quite a challenging concept maybe, but maybe at the heart of all this? If we can make some progress with this I sense it'd make the whole guide so much more useful.

Comment by Lorna Prescott on December 28, 2011 at 19:38
Hi Phil
Renaming the 'methods' section as 'resources' and having it as a rich and varied library of frameworks, toolkits, tools, guides, literature etc. sounds like a great idea to me. I've also got something forming in my head which might be a bit of an update of David Wilcox's Guide to Participation (http://www.partnerships.org.uk/guide/) which includes a really useful A-Z and a resources section (invaluable around the time of publication, when Internet access was limited). So yes, let's see what others think of going down those lines and seeing what happens. Also I recall David or someone else suggesting that identifying assets should be the first step on this journey, so we may also want to move that to be section 2. I also don't want to loose the connecting activities which David describes in his framework: http://oursociety.org.uk/profiles/blogs/frameworks-for-thinking-about So we'll have to make sure they are threaded in. Perhaps in the practical steps bits in the main sections.
Comment by Phil Green on December 19, 2011 at 9:50

Hi Lorna, wondering if section 5 would be better called 'Resources' and moved to section 6 / last, more logical order (?) - eg practical stuff you might want to consider,  and then, here's a sample of the increasingly rich array of resources to help you do these kinds of things?


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