Our Society

Social action. Honest exchange. Grounded learning.

Our Society - The Future (does it have one?)

I think the time has come to debate the future of Our Society, and, even ask the question "does it have one?".

Just to remind people of why we started all this; here is our purpose http://oursociety.org.uk/page/our-purpose. Our Society grew out of Big Society in the North, which was established both to argue for an alternative vision to the Government's Big Society agenda, and to help those people-led organisations struggling to find their way in a landscape of funding cuts and shifting priorities. Its over-riding aim was to help people share what works in local people-led development, as well as holding to account those who claimed to have new solutions, visions and blueprints. While we started with a northern (English) agenda, we soon found that our arguments rang true in lots of other parts of the country too; so Big Society in the North morphed into Our Society.

I think we were initially successful in what we set out to do, but we have never had any resources, and we have relied on a small core group of volunteers to keep this site running and organise anything else Our Society has sought to do. This site used to be a very busy, buzzing place, but, in recent months, this activity has died down, and some days it is very quiet.

One of the big positives that Our Society had going for it was its ability to maintain a "helicopter-view" of the landscape, looking across the silos of different approaches to local development while being outside any one of them. I think where we have suffered in that, bit-by-bit, more people have been dragged into the silos. I think we took the decision not to look for resources because that might have risked creating another silo; but the irony is that this means we don't have the resources to fight against the silos that have the money.

We now face a position where the demands on the core group of volunteers may not be able to be serviced. And, on top of this, there are questions about whether we can find the (modest) budget to keep this site going.

So, is Our Society important to you?

What would it take to get you more involved?

Should we just give up, archive the materials, and move on?

Please let me (and other members of the core group) know in the comments section below.

Views: 894

Tags: #oursociety

Add a Comment

You need to be a member of Our Society to add comments!

Join Our Society

Comment by julian dobson on July 6, 2012 at 9:30

Just to emphasise what I said in my email to everyone: the website will continue at least until payment is required. That gives people some time to decide how (or whether) they would like to take it forward.

On Neil and Jeff's points: there is already a 'Big Society' group on LinkedIn and another on the RSA network. The RSA is a great organisation but it is members-only, and the idea of this forum was to be open to anyone, including people who didn't feel comfortable with the bias of LinkedIn towards professional networks. 

I know many members of this forum are also in the National Community Activists Network and if this one fades away, I'm sure NatCan would provide a suitable home for many of the discussions that have taken place here. The point at the moment is for people to decide where they most want to interact and how, and this space is available to be used for some time to come - so it really is up to you.

Comment by Joe Taylor on July 4, 2012 at 19:04

Whatever, come up with something rather that give all the work that has gone into this website away.

Comment by Jeff Mowatt on July 4, 2012 at 18:50

Funnily enough Neil, I was thinking of adding that too.

The one I started in 2008 on the subject of Social Business has some common ground with the re-interpretions of capitalism we have now in Big Society.

The membership of just over 1000 probably thinks I'm the contrarian among them.



Comment by Neil Watson on July 4, 2012 at 18:43

Alternatively, why not do something dangerous and move outside your zone of comfort and set one or more groups on LinkedIn? That way you might attract more people with contrarian views, which might make more of a reason for people to keep coming back and interacting.

One of the ills of our society (you can capitalise the words if you wish, but I am being more general) is the priority people give to creating cliques and pushing away people with views that don't match their own.

Comment by Jeff Mowatt on July 4, 2012 at 18:34

By the same token, why not join up with and create a groups the RSA network. if they don't already exist.

There are dozens of underused forums, where the "build and they will come" approach has been proven wrong.

They want subscribers and active conversations, OS wants to be managed.

Could be a marriage? 

Comment by Joe Taylor on July 4, 2012 at 16:13

>Again, as the man asked - Any Takers?

Hmm...well that question stopped this discussion in it's tracks.

If another team isn't willing to take over it's not looking good for this website.

Here's an alternative some of you might like to consider


More and more people agree the system is broken but how do you want the world to look?
And how do you think we can get there?

A World to Win’s new interactive platform offers a space for you to work with others to find solutions.

Be part of a group discussion or set up your own group. Share ideas and experiences by writing a blog. Invite friends or use the forum.

People have already set up groups on:

*The future of democracy

*EARTH - our shared home

*Transforming the economy



To sign up to AWTW network go to http://aworldtowin.ning.com/

Comment by Joe Taylor on June 25, 2012 at 11:10
>this Ning doesn't take Hours a Day to administer

I guess you get out what you're willing to put in and I know how much time I put in as an administrator for NatCAN.
>Please can we keep this thread JUST for discussions about the future of the Our Society platform.
With you on that one. The 'core group' will decided if it's worth the website continuing, depending, in part, on the responses to this thread.
I know my way around the back-room of Ning sites and I'm happy to help any way I can, but it's too much for one person to do the job properly.
Again, as the man asked - Any Takers?
Comment by Paul Webster on June 25, 2012 at 10:30


Thanks for the comment. Indeed Neil, this Ning doesn't take Hours a Day to administer, I certainally didn't say that in my post. To avoid accounts that are obviously spanning, the core group have made it our responsibility to check each person requesting to join the Ning and then to send them a personal Welcome message. This takes no more than a few minutes per day. Facilitation of discussions and uploading content can take a little longer, although we'd prefer it if Our Society did some of this and naturally organised topics of discussion into appropriate Groups (e.g. A Group for International Social Enterprise, The merits of Ning Vs Wordpress or for Community Noticeboards etc).

Please can we keep this thread JUST for discussions about the future of the Our Society platform.

Thanks for all the contributions so far.


Comment by Neil Watson on June 25, 2012 at 10:13

Wordpress is what you make of it. To be honest, I don't see much difference between it and what is here. However, I don't want to get into a technical pluses & minuses discussion. This exists and it works, so my default position is to run with it unless there's an overriding reason to change.

Still don't understand the hours a day on admin! I administer 7 sites on four different framework platforms and that takes me a couple of hours a week at most.

Comment by Jeff Mowatt on June 25, 2012 at 10:04

Neil, Having tried a variety of social platforms, WordPress is I admit better than I thought at first. It is however a blog platform which with some rare exceptions tends to become a broadcast only platform.

There are two great obstacles in my perception. First that of a 'not invented here' posture from government and third sector and media silos which promote a branded and sponsored agenda.

Though more of an international issue, I hope to illustrate with this blog that the combined effect of restricting dialogue can be shown to cost others their lives.          

© 2012   Created by Sophie Ballinger.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service