Seven Câ€™s for Growing Your Own Community Simple steps for seeding your own ideas by Anna B. Sexton
I am sharing the following seven steps as a guide to growing your own ideas for creative community change. Read this booklet all the way through as a starting point to help you navigate your way through your own process; from finding what you want to contribute through to how once you are up & running how you want to celebrate your successes. I have added a bonus eighth step which, is optional & you will see why. Feel as encouraged & supported by the ideas in here to compliment any or all of your own. You have a unique view of the world & a wealth of ideas just waiting to take shape, so be bold & get going. And this is just a snippet of the ideas, information & tips about growing your ideas & community projects that you can find at our website www.opentocreate.com 'Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed it is the only thing that ever has.' Margaret Mead
#1. Catalyst Change is afoot where you live, where you work... You either like it or more often than not you don’t like or even agree with the changes. You start to notice a feeling, a calling inside yourself to do something, to make a difference... This can be scary knowing whether or not to throw your hat into the ring. Whatever is calling you out ask yourself these questions; • What are my highest intentions to get involved? • What is the best outcome I can create here? • What ideas, skills & experience do I have to bring to the situation that are not already being applied? • How will I feel when my idea takes shape? • What can I see will have changed in 1 years time?
#2. Create What’s exciting about having ideas is that as humans we are born to create; its part of our nature. Being creative is not about being ‘arty’, although it can be. Creating comes in your own brand version of it, based on how you experience the world. Use the exercises below to delve into the depths of your imagination. The trick here to be as open, random & non-judgemental as possible; • Use a pen & big sheet of paper to write down every idea you have to solve the problems you are facing & the changes you want to make. • Go through magazines & newspapers, tear/cut out images & words which give your ideas shape, colour & life. Stick these onto your ideas maps. • Pin up your ideas map in a place you will see it daily.
#3. Collaborate The best plans of mice & men? Well they are made to be done & done together. Even if you wince at the idea of collaborating & working in partnerships; you cannot ever alone on a planet with over 7 billion people. It is a question of moving from an ‘I’ space into a ‘we’ space. And like any relationship its worth knowing what makes you tick, what your strengths & weaknesses are. Before moving forward ask yourself; • What is the highest purpose for creating the collaboration? • What are the strengths I will bring to the partnership? • What skills will I invite in from others? • How will we work together? • How will we measure our success & impacts?
#4. Common Sense As a partnership you will need to test your ideas with simple, common sense filters. The successful projects that grow are the most simple. Consider the following questions; • What is the demand for our idea? • What will we answer if people say ‘it won’t work’? • What resources do we need to make the idea real? • How will our idea be safe for the people who use it & make it happen? • What ways can the idea be shown to work? i.e. evaluating success & areas for growth There is more to this part (see our website) yet with a solid partnership & simple common sense plan you are ready to get out there & deliver your idea!
#5. Call to Action Your idea has grown into a project through a well thought out collaboration. You have a plan but how will the people you want to help know about what you are up to? How will they get involved? Consider these questions; • Where are the people you want to reach? • What do they do for a living? • Where do they live, work, & relax? • What interests them, what switches them off? • What do with their money? Or lack of it? • What makes them decide to get more involved? The more you can answer these questions, the more people will take part in the delivery part of your project. Yes this is marketing & the different marketing tools you chose will effectively help spread your message & deliver swifter, more sustainable change.
#6. Celebrate Even before you first meet with your group to run the first meeting/event/session you deserve to celebrate how far you have come since first throwing your hat in the ring. Be sure to build in a chance to celebrate at every part of the process too. You have a vision for change & it is okay to enjoy the process as much as possible; • At the end of each session celebrate what you have achieved; review what people want more & less of. • Host afternoon tea or a garden party for people inside the project to invite their friends & family along to. • Invite local VIPs & press to the share about the project to let them know what you are creating & changing. • Celebrate & say a big thank you to your helpers & most importantly yourself.
#7. Carry On! Keep on, keeping on. You have built up a beautiful partnership & have started to grow a following within your group & community. Now is the time to continue to grow your idea. You will have more people to help you now. Use the measurement tools you put in place at the beginning of the process & these questions to assess; •
What worked & can be grown?
What could be better & needs development? Extra support?
What doesn’t need to happen again going forward?
Involve as many people face to face in this process, not everyone likes, to or can fill out an evaluation form. Make sure you use the feedback to shape your next steps.
#8. Complete – the optional extra I am a realist and knowing when to stop is a useful as knowing when to go forward. Of the many ideas I have brought into life some only had a short shelf life. A catalyst is a person or thing that causes the rate of change to speed up. Change doesn’t always need to be ‘big’. During the process small things shift in the grander scheme of things; •
Resident boards communicate better with members following our methods.
Local resident leads on running Social media groups for award winning garden project.
Mum’s group create own branding for their creative start up social enterprise.
And knowing when you stop & step out to let groups lead themselves is an art in itself. An end is always a beginning.
For more information About working with an Open To Create... coach, consultant or to find out how our Grow Your Own Community ÂŠ programme will support you to make your community ideas grow Contact Anna Sexton â€“ Director T. 020 7515 9451 M.07941 655 856 Skype. annasexton Email.
Facebook page. Open To Create Twitter.
& finally thanks... Thanks to the following individuals & groups for inspiring this booklet, this list is not by any means exhaustive; • Arts Admin • BAT Pack & Bow Arts • Embercombe • Greening Brownfield • James Aldridge • Lauren Craig • Penny Stanford • Simon Terrill • Triumphant Events • We Love Marlborough All images and text © Anna Sexton 2011
Seven C's for Growing Your Own Community Simple steps for seeding your own ideas