Well, we’re back from a journey that spanned from Bristol to Blackburn. The Local by Social tour saw us travelling across the country to visit forward thinking councils and their residents to help reimagine how the web might be able to help them shape the future of their services.
We wrapped things up heading to Blackburn for our final edition of the series, at the home of Blackburn Rovers, Ewood Park. The theme this time round was transparency and engagement and, as with all Local by Social events, the day brought together a wide range of experts and enthusiasts from across the fields of innovation, public service and volunteering.
Throughout the series we’ve kicked things off with guests sharing inspiring stories about creating useful tools for people on a local level. We’ve had developers with an itch to scratch; big picture talks that encourage thinking on the web and its potential in bringing change to our services, such as NESTA’s Carla Ross sharing the progress of their Reboot Britain programme; and Emer Coleman from the GLA asking if open data could save the public realm.
It was also encouraging to see a strong showing from local politicians at all our events, showcasing forward thinking councillors working on the hard edge of local democracy to deliver innovation. You can listen to Councillor Tim Cheetham talking about making data useful for those he represents here, or Councillor John Rodgers chatting about how we can use the web to make politics more human. Just two examples from the impressive bunch of local government leaders we met along our way. Not to mention those leading communities in their own ways, from Trish the headteacher at Sunderland, to Alan, the lifelong volunteer at Coventry.
Projects full of potential
At each event we asked everyone to scribble down the one thing they’d like the web to help them fix, or (even better) create. An amazing amount of ideas were generated, with teams spending the rest of their Local by Social expeirence shaping, creating and presenting a project that could offer a solution. Our tour has managed to cover a pretty wide spectrum of bright ideas, from requesting FOIs in Blackburn to building an app that enabled allotment holders in Bristol share their food surplus. From Lantern festivals in Sunderland to looking at how music could help connect generations in Coventry, we never stopped being amazed at both the creativity and the resourcefulness of all attendees.
We have plenty of these ideas up over on the Local by Social blog – if we haven’t yet received your project presentation feel free to send through and we’ll make sure we share it with the Local by Social community to help make it happen…
The tour was jam packed with inspiration, conversation and action. After a few days to reflect on how everything went we caught up with Ingrid to chat about what she made of the day, how she sees the projects created at all the Local by Social events moving forward and her future hopes for the series…
So now we’ve parked the Local by Social tour bus (ok, we didn’t have one, but that would of been cool) for a little while, we’d like to say a huge thank you to all our host cities. The series has demonstrated how willing people are to bring their energy and enthusiasm by the bucket load – and often stepping outside their comfort zone. The results? Some really important new thinking being shared, connections being established and projects, with futures, being created.