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RSA East of England

News Bulletin Summer 2013

Moving on from the

Chris Kington

East of England Conference


RSA Fellowship

RSA - Unleashing Potential - Building a better society 1

RSA Fellowship

Unleashing Potential The modern Centre for Mathematical Sciences building is located about half way between the old city and the University Observatory. Two hundred years ago the astronomers of Cambridge moved their telescopes from the town, recently lit by gas light, to the heart of rural darkness far beyond urban lighting. The East of England RSA conference at CMS was about light and enlightenment. The CMS is now in the centre of the rapidly expanding university which has more than enveloped the Department of Astronomy. Learning and research shines all around, not to mention scaffolding and yet more brand new shiny buildings.

Big Issue”, shocked us, electrified us and helped galvanise our will to get on and make change happen. He is an effective complacency buster.

The conference was designed to showcase Fellows’ activity in the region – for each of us to get out of our silo to see what else is going on - to allow light into previously unlit areas. Any Fellow who needed a voice was encouraged to be heard. As planning unfolded we moved from the idea of simply showcasing what was happening to being instrumental in ensuring appropriate programmes were planned for the future.

We had to remind ourselves that the conference had to be relevant to nearly 2300 Fellows across the entire Region. The range of presenters and exhibitors ensured this was not just a local show. The marketplace, comprising 23 exhibitors, was a triumph of organisation and became the focal point of the day encouraging much networking. Again the iconic new building was an appropriate space to realise our vision of buzzing endeavour. Even the catering had a multi-level appeal as it was enthusiastically consumed by delegates in the midst of the marketplace.

We had a potential rag bag of contributions yet somehow our four themes were transformed into an elegant programme by facilitators – Loic Menzies, Wendi PascoMcGregor, Lynette Warren and Sam Weller. After a period of finding out each group turned to decide what activities need to be planned for the future. After all, change for social improvement is what RSA is about. This encouraged the discovery of who else in the region had similar interests and what concerned other Fellows. It has re-energised local networks and set up potential new networks and projects. Not easily pigeon-holed and certainly known to be a loose cannon, John Bird the founder and editor in chief of “The


This regional conference was set in Cambridge, providing an opportunity to get 500 or so Fellows based in or near the city up and running. I was tasked by the regional team to get this conference off the ground. For half a year a group of Fellows – many of whom knew no others prior to this – put imagination and energy into assembling a programme of some complexity. It was a bit of a gamble – but one that came off.

At the end of the day I led an informal walk into the City centre in order to open the eyes of delegates to Cambridge as a city which has plenty of issues to deal with as it builds from its historic roots towards a hi-tech bright future. The weather was appropriately dazzling. It was an immensely satisfying day with so many new links made… and plans are taking shape. Now let’s crack on…

Realising the Mission Malcolm Noble Chair RSA East of England The conference aim was to engage the Fellowship, with like-minded partners in activities across the East of England. Vikki Heywood, Chair of the RSA, clarified the Society’s purpose as ‘enriching society through ideas and action’. John Bird, from the Big Issue emphasised the necessity for practical activities. Our method was to showcase RSA activities through the four workshops: on the themes of Education, Urbanism, Sustainability and Community Initiative. These themes are based on the RSA’s development plan for the region. This is delivered through existing networks: Norwich Education Forum, Shout Out Suffolk, Changing Chelmsford and the RSA’s contribution to the Cambridge subregion’s 20/30 vision project.


The East of England team is developing a series of cross-region projects: the first on sustainability, entitled Renewable Energy in the East of England.


A group of Fellows want to address the impact of variable parenting skills on young people. They have identified a local charity called “Home Start” already working in their area and agreed to make contact to see what skills RSA Fellows might be able to offer.


Scale up existing education projects or volunteering opportunities by collaborating with other Fellows.


Develop the relationship between the RSA and Community Radio stations like Future Radio in the East of England.


Create a route map to ‘Community Award for Sustainable Living’: • Identify Fellows who are sustainability activists and advocates in the region • Engage and challenge the RSA’s Academy students to define their views of sustainable living. • Build a framework or matrix to enable a better understanding of sustainability


Set up a ‘sustainability forum’ where we can follow up and start delivering identified initiatives - in the interest of carbon reduction we could use Skype and other online communication.

Some 12 project ideas came from or grew at the conference.

Some of these ideas are already moving forward. Others will need a push to get started. The opportunity is here and now for Fellows and others to engage with them. I am happy to put you in touch.


Potential joint initiatives between The Paper Trail, Vertical Allotments and YOPEY.

I shall hope to hear from you at


Beginnings of several alliances, built around how a Cambridge 2030 process could be adapted for other local areas like Norwich and Ipswich.


Signposts: Use the RSA, centrally or locally, to make known how individuals can volunteer, match up skills and signpost opportunities to do so. The RSA could establish a volunteering section on their website. In addition, Community Foundations in England are rolling out a programme called “Vital Signs” which through a combination of officially generated statistics and community verification will highlight the key areas needing support in local communities - this will assist RSA Fellows in identifying the areas most needing support in the region.


Cambridgeshire Community Foundation plans to convene regular meetings locally to investigate partnerships/sharing of resources. Voluntary groups will see if they can offer support (resource and expertise) to each other on a mutually beneficial basis based on a time banking model. Organisations with spare capacity in terms of space, equipment and resources might be able to help groups looking for space, transport, entertainment and opportunities for job/skills training and the like.


Start up an RSA network serving Hertfordshire.


Local meetings of Fellows, initially in Cambridge, to explore the community based initiative opportunities presented by the Conference. Use these meetings to build ideas to put into Catalyst (RSA programme awarding grants and support).

Sue Hind Woodward The day dawned, if not bright, rain-free for the Fellows to be unleashed on the Centre for Mathematical Sciences (CMS) for the first ever East of England conference. To test their mettle and potential for participation in the event, a series of initiative challenges were set – quite serendipitously as it happened! The first task was to find the venue which, as 90% of the delegates arrived, proved to be quite simple, especially when a free parking prize was offered – in Cambridge of all places. Next task, to find the entrance to this spectacular, but not particularly well signed cluster of buildings. Again, full marks as

everyone found this, but the final hurdle was to gain access. Not quite as easy as it appeared. Was that a door or a large pane of glass? By standing in front of the impressive ‘double doors’ would they open automatically? This last task seemed to present the most challenges to our spirited and enthusiastic delegates. Some searched for a handle on the large pane of glass, others waited patiently for the seemingly automatic doors to open, but the champions found the unassuming door on the left of the glass portico to gain entry. Victor Ludorum! However, in today’s spirit of equality for all, everyone was granted access ‘with a bit of help from their friend’, the Meeter and Greeter. The day was about to begin ……

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21st century Enlightenment Enriching Society through Ideas and Action Keynote Speech by Vikki Heywood CBE - National Chairman of the RSA Vikki Heywood’s presentation launched a new vision for the RSA. The challenge for the Fellowship is to find a narrative that is accurate, accessible, distinctive, clear, flexible and durable. The RSA recognises that words matter. But our language is not – yet – accessible to the broader public. Many terms used in the social innovation and enterprise ‘world’ that the RSA inhabits – and animates - are poorly defined and fuzzy. Our previous strapline - ‘21st Century Enlightenment‘describes an approach, not a purpose or outcome. Our job as a Fellowship is, therefore, to refine, define and increase understanding - to be clearer about our purpose and to demonstrate influence through our activities. The new strapline clarifies what we are about and provides a call to action:

21st century enlightenment: Enriching society through ideas and action Our Range is Global The RSA Fellowship will be 100 years old next year. We have a global network of 27,000 people. And the Fellowship is more active than ever, in local groupings like the Social Entrepreneurs Network and in a growing number of Fellow-led initiatives attracting support from the RSA’s Catalyst Fund. RSA lectures have had 84 million viewings online in the last three years. Focussing on the goal of enhancing human potential, we are putting our ideas into action, with a growing family of Academy schools committed to high standards and a progressive mission. We have research and development projects ranging from entrepreneurship and education, through zero waste manufacturing to the concept of spirituality and its application. Our practical work ranges from working with a rural county to design and establish a public service campus in a market town, to holding a commission for a County Council on how to achieve a step change in school results. We have a diverse range of substantive partnerships with organisations including Microsoft, Samsung, Lloyds, RBS, the Technology Strategy Board, MIT, NSPCC and several local authorities. Our international work includes a major

design initiative in the USA, Malaysia and Scandinavia. Our Approach The RSA nurtures and engages a network of Fellows, employees and partners that is proactive, intellectually curious, entrepreneurial and diverse. The breadth of our interests, networks and methods are reflected in competencies including horizon scanning, generating debate, primary and secondary research, civic engagement, practical innovation and enterprise development. The global reach of the RSA, our independence and our broad and multidisciplinary networks mean we can identify emerging new challenges and spot and curate powerful new ideas. Our mission is not merely to communicate or to recommend to others but to develop and rigorously test practical, scalable solutions. We seek to make our ideas and innovations available as inspiration, opportunity and resource to all. Our Values We aim to be independent and creative, practical and resourceful, consistent and demanding, respectful and philanthropic. Measures of Success We should seek to measure our success: through our influence on the assumptions and aspirations of leaders and innovators in all sectors of society; the number and impact of Fellows’ initiatives we are able to help launch and grow; the quality, impact and influence of ideas and initiatives launched by the RSA Action and Research Centre; the quality and reach of our annual events programme, the Journal and other forms of dissemination. Above all becoming the type of organisation that the 21st century needs. Questions The issues were explored further in a lively question and answer session. They include what we mean by independence as one of our core values – party political impartiality is crucial. There was interest in the developing international programme – some of the national programmes, including the Student Design Awards, are now going global. There was agreement that the arts need to be high on the RSA agenda. And what’s in a name – is ‘RSA’ really accessible, accurate and clear? Probably not - an item for the ‘to do‘ list. In the midst of the education policy bubble Vikki Heywood CBE


Education: Hearing Young Voices Loic Menzies substantial progress can be made in closing the education gap (see Hart and Risely 2003, Gross 2011).

it is easy to miss the voices of practitioners but it is even easier to miss the voice of children and young people. However, the education workshops at the Unleashing Potential Conference were a rare exception to this: Fellows from the Norwich Education Forum, Shout Out Suffolk, Brunel Urban Scholarship and Future Radio brought young people’s stories to life with audio clips, artwork and stories. They showed how Fellows were using partnerships and new technology to give young people a voice in education. One of the strongest messages to come through in the morning session was the importance of empowering young people by giving them the means to unleash their potential. For example, by building a user friendly and easy to access online forum, Shout Out Suffolk brought together hundreds of young people’s voices. They then fed their views into the RSA’s “Raising the Bar” report so that they could be heard by key decision makers in the county and nationally. Meanwhile the Norwich Education Forum gave members of the community the skills to participate in education debates and used the medium of radio by partnering with Future radio. Finally Donna Green, of Brunel University’s Urban Scholarship Program described the huge range of opportunities her project gives young people so that they can access jobs and university. All in all, the contributors’ stories left me with two important lessons for Fellows: • Identify what skills and expertise young people might need which you can provide • Build powerful partnerships (e.g. with other local organisations, schools and universities.)

‘Today I’m chairing the education strand of the conference and get to use an actual chalk board!’

The afternoon session built on these lessons and explored what participants felt they might be able to do. One highlight was a group of fellows who wanted to address the issue of variable parenting skills and the impact this has on young people. They identified a local charity called “Home Start” who are already working in the area and agreed to make contact to see what skills RSA Fellows might be able to offer. This seemed like an excellent area to focus on since research has shown that the gap in educational outcomes between disadvantaged children and their peers opens up in the first few years of life and that the way parents speak to their children plays a significant part in this. American studies have shown that by helping parents improve the language in their interactions,

Several other Fellows shared projects or volunteering opportunities they were already involved in and discussed how they might scale these up by collaborating with other Fellows. Another area of interest was in how to engage the wider community in Fellows’ projects. Participants were keen to open up their projects to non-Fellows but also to tap into their communities’ existing ‘hidden social capital’. John Elliott for example described the strong networks that exist within disadvantaged communities which are centred on particular niche interests and argued that Fellows could work with schools to tap into this hidden richness. The overall message was clear- if Fellows are to ‘Unleash Potential’ in education, they should identify the barriers young people are facing, what they have to offer which could address these and which networks and partnership they have access to. They can then build bridges and feed in their expertise. If the projects we heard about during our morning session are anything to go by, the benefits could be enormous. Loic Menzies FRSA facilitated the education strand at the Unleashing Potential Conference. He is Director of the Education and Youth ‘think and action’ tank // @LKMco


Urban Connections Wendi Pasco-McGregor The Urbanism strand took from us considering about how increasingly we need to think more widely than a city, expanding to include a connected subregion. Professor Peter Carolin, a previous Head of the Department of Architecture at Cambridge, talked about the process of using a series of workshops which formed the backbone of Cambridge 2030.

Triggered by some forthright conversations about the lack of ‘life’ in some of Cambridge’s business parks, Peter and his peers wanted to start a new 
kind of shared conversation. Showing a still uncut version of the video to be launched shortly, Peter was clear in his emphasis that this kind of process provides a different way to work with local  government and other key stakeholders, “pushing on an open door’ as he described it.

  From here, John Lyall of Lyall, Bills and Young Architects talked about the evolution of the Ipswich waterfront from the early stages of the Cranfield Mill through to the upcoming work on the Tolly Brewery site. As well as extolling the virtues of lunch at the neighbouring pub as part of any future visit, John talked with passion about the ways in which mixed use, and organisations such as Dance East, can put the kind of life into urban spaces which puts a spring in our collective steps.


John was followed by Annabel Brown, a fellow architect from Maldon, who has been running sessions with young people as part of the Changing Chelmsford initiative. Using pictures of real places, we were asked to imagine ourselves as stressed middle-aged commuters or busy retirees or even young artists or urban farmers.  This was more a stretch for some of us than for others! In a fun, interactive session, Annabel asked us to imagine different ways in which we could use everything from redundant car parks to gloomy viaducts. In a burst of creativity, participants ranged from pigs on roofs to en-masse tai chi to the role of elders. And I’m sure I heard a slight nervous gulp of when Annabel told us she would record our ideas as part of the real propositions on the Changing Chelmsford site... Talk about ideas into (possible) action!

 Key reflections in the closing session really fell into two schools; starting different kinds of conversations and using a process similar to Cambridge 2030. “Starting conversations earlier would enable you to have more creative conversations” said one participant. This led onto a conversation about how one might use Art in its widest sense to retrofit “life into soulless spaces”. A number of people left with the beginning of alliances, built around how they might adapt a Cambridge 2030 process, for their local area or initiative.

Green and Growing Lynnette Warren The Conference was a great opportunity not only for Fellows and guests to find out what activities were being developed in their area but also a chance to meet and discuss potential collaboration and new initiatives. The Sustainability workshop based round the framework of environmental, economic and social activities certainly gave a wealth of diverse and challenging points for participants to query and discuss. A range of current projects were presented by Fellows in the morning which reflected this diversity: • YOPEY - highlighted and celebrated young peoples’ achievements in both social and environmental areas • The Paper Trail, based in an original paper mill, covered recycling paper and work initiatives for schools, business enterprise and community support. • Vertical Allotments focussed on greening the urban environment and with Catalyst funding made possible horticultural/social activities for the elderly in sheltered housing with the prospect of creating a apprenticeship scheme. • Kiwanja - We were hoping that our presenter Ken Banks would bring his newborn twins as his contribution but unfortunately he stuck to the script in which, noting the popularity of online games, he identified and demonstrated an innovative use of ICT and competition to stimulate community engagement and environmental awareness. • North West Cambridge Development featured Eco homes and developing community involvement to live sustainably. The challenge for the day was to examine these complex combinations of current activities and to arrive at a consensus for new actions for the following year. Everyone was positive and thought there was a wide scope for environmental initiatives and some really exciting activities for the Region. The most popular action point was to develop a blueprint/certificate for sustainable living combined with an innovative approach to communication through games and competition.

The afternoon’s discussions ranged from a collective of septic tanks to defining sustainability but a key factor was the need for real action and not for talking shops. A series of action points as routes to achieving a ‘Community Award for Sustainable Living’ was generally agreed; these would: • Identify Fellows who are sustainability activists and advocates in the region. • Engage and challenge the RSA’s Academy students to define their views of sustainable living. • Build a framework or matrix to enable a better understanding of sustainability. The group thought that communication was crucial, and felt current channels for changing people’s mindset were limited in effectiveness, so introducing competition and games to stimulate interest was an innovative approach and worth exploring. It was noted that most sustainable initiatives such as Transition Towns and Friends of the Earth and Greenpeace activities tend to preach to the converted and the challenge for the Eastern Region is to engage with communities and people that normally do not get involved.  There are extensive sources of information relating to this so we need to be innovative and utilise Eastern Region’s Fellows’ expertise and ideas. The new community in the Cambridge North West Development could be a focal point for pilot projects measured alongside established communities. Sustainability is by definition a crossdiscipline exercise. There is an obvious linkage with the other workshop topics and it would be worth identifying mutual supportive actions.  It would be good to set up a ‘sustainability forum’ where we can follow up and start delivering identified initiatives. However in the interest of carbon reduction we could use Skype and other online communication. In conclusion the Conference was time short but content rich and a great opportunity to meet and hear about other Fellows projects and ideas. In addition the sessions have sparked off potential joint initiatives between The Paper Trail, Vertical Allotments and YOPEY. A big thank you to the team and everyone who made it such a successful day.

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Community Initiatives Sam Weller The workshop started by hearing presentations on young people, homelessness, those affected by cancer and the elderly. The ensuing discussion highlighted the following issues: Intergenerational opportunities It was suggested that young people who could benefit from exposure to the needs of the elderly and disadvantaged might be invited to engage by offering their time in both practical and artistic ways. Need for volunteers and the lack of knowledge about how people can volunteer in the community. Surprisingly, the session concluded that there was a lack of general knowledge on how Fellows might volunteer their time and skills and how organisations could advertise their needs for volunteers Partnerships across sectors through sharing and time banking It was suggested that voluntary organisations of different size and profile could offer support (resource and expertise) to each other on a mutually beneficial basis based on a time banking model. For example, organisations with spare capacity in terms of space, equipment and resources might be able to help groups looking for space, transport, entertainment and opportunities for job/skills training, etc.


The rural/urban divide in the Eastern region Major urban areas in the region include the cities of Norwich, Cambridge and Peterborough as well as Ipswich, Bury St Edmunds, Ely, Lowestoft and Great Yarmouth. Much of the area is still rural in nature with villages surrounded by agricultural land and agriculture has always been important in this fertile region. The rural areas seem to disadvantaged in terms of third sector support both in the number of projects seeking support and those wishing to help them Need to communicate better understanding of the issues In order to focus the help, support and volunteering on the key areas of need in the region, there is a need for more detailed information on which to base actions During the afternoon session, the following actions took shape: Need for volunteers and the lack of knowledge about how people can volunteer in the community. Use the RSA, centrally or locally, to inform how individuals can volunteer, match up skills and signpost opportunities to do so. It was suggested that one of the roles of the RSA could be to establish a volunteering section on their website Partnerships across sectors through sharing and time banking Convene regular meetings locally to investigate partnerships/sharing of resources. Cambridgeshire Community Foundation is planning to convene regular meetings locally to investigate partnerships/sharing of resources. Voluntary organisations of different size and profile will see if they can offer support (resource and expertise) to each other on a mutually beneficial basis based on a time banking model. Organisations with spare capacity in terms of space, equipment and resources might be able to help groups looking for space, transport, entertainment and opportunities for job/skills training, etc

Need to communicate better understanding of the issues Community Foundations in England are rolling out a programme called “Vital Signs� which through a combination of officially generated statistics and community verification will highlight the key areas needing support in local communities. This will assist RSA Fellows in identifying the areas most needing support in the region Create a network of Fellows to explore the creation of more community based initiatives in the region Convene local meetings of Fellows, initially in Cambridge, to explore the community based initiative opportunities presented by the Conference. Use these meetings to build ideas to put into Catalyst (RSA programme awarding grants and support) If you’d like to hear more about these meetings, please contact Mary Sweeney: thesweeneys@btinternet. com or Sam Weller: samandmary_

A Marketplace for Ideas Jo Durning We wanted the Marketplace to be a continuation of the workshops – a place where people would mingle, meet and get into conversations, exchanging and sparking new ideas. Many of the workshop presenters had exhibits, and used them to continue conversations they had begun during the morning workshops, or to meet people who had been in other workshops, and wanted to find out about their project.

We set out the stands randomly, in the hope that different workshop themes could escape from any risk of getting stuck in silos, by finding themselves next to each other in the market place. So it was serendipity that the People’s Pantry was next to Vertical Allotments, and found that they had a great deal in common. We made exceptions for mutual support: so the Academy of Urbanism looked out for the Changing Chelmsford exhibits, as well as their own busy stand. The long, low space, with its arched ceiling, and alcoves with groups of chairs for people to sit and chat, facilitated the feel of a genuine marketplace. We placed the food in the middle, so that people would have to move through the stands in order to eat. That worked brilliantly and the food, from local, sustainable and healthy supplier, Origin8, was excellent – though we owe an apology to those who failed to find appropriate catering. Special diets did not get through to us from the registration form, so we had no knowledge of particular dietary needs.

The range of exhibits was great. All human life was there, with art (Deanna Tyson’s vibrant stand, and lively book illustrations by students at Anglia Ruskin University), craft (the Weaver man’s basketmaking demonstrations brought him some customers and some useful new contacts) and many initiatives more or less closely linked to the key themes for the day. The RSA Animate videos ran throughout the day, a place to sit quietly, while still being stimulated by thoughtprovoking new ideas.



Terry Lee and Future Radio were part of the Norfolk Educational Forum presentation but also went freelance in the marketplace . . . Hello, I’m Terry Lee – the Station Manager of Future Radio in Norwich, Board Member of the UK’s Community Media Association, and RSA Fellow. At the RSA East of England Conference my work-colleague Lauren and I were kept busy recording sound bites of some of the Fellows and event organisers from the day… Future Radio is a community radio station, broadcasting 24 hours a day since August 2007, with programmes presented and produced by real Norwich people, using our Norwich studios. This form of local radio is not exclusive to Norwich - we are one of around 200 Community Radio stations that exist in the UK – but I am proud to say that we are considered one of the best in the country.  I think this is because we are not afraid to ‘do different’ - we are the alternative voice of Norwich, broadcasting for listeners who love music, debate, and coverage of key local issues.  We have a multi-genre schedule and over 150 volunteers currently on our books.  We are fully inclusive; lots of our volunteers are of retirement age (but young at heart), many don’t speak English as a first language, there are youth programmes made by and produced for the youth of Norwich.  Future Radio is about reflecting the views of the different communities and communities of interest across Norwich, and creating intelligent, alternative radio that engages our thousands of listeners.  Indeed, Ofcom found out last year that Future Radio’s listeners are the most engaged radio listeners in the UK when they produced their report ‘The Future for Small Scale Radio’. In the East of England I am looking to develop the relationship between the RSA and Community Radio stations like Future Radio. You may see me at a future East of England event sometime soon, armed with my voice recorder. One day I would like to see the RSA use Community Media as its primary communication tool. I don’t think there is a more appropriate way for an organisation like the RSA to get its message across locally.

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The Necessity of Poverty John Bird Quartet Books, London, 2012 In chapter 9 of Necessity of Poverty John Bird sums up his idea that we are all implicated in the continuity of poverty. Our society, our marketplaces are angled to make the most out of the poor. So when you read the inane comments of the supposedly well educated “there is no working class anymore” you might quibble the wholesale diminishing of the lives of the largest part of the world’s population to that of servers of our appetites, and supplying us with work and purpose, needs to be faced. To do so we need to get rid of some illusions along the way. Until we act on the vast consumer power that is within our own hands we are fooling ourselves. If we seriously want to close the gap between the rich and the poor, we better stop making the rich richer. We better stop trading with the people whose lifestyles we find vile and selfish. We have to realise the collective power we hold in our hands. Only collective actions have made changes in the world, whether defeating Nazism or eradicating smallpox. We may choose to make political noises and gestures, but they will not make the difference we require…

I work with homeless people who have had everything thrown at them. What holds them back is not what is done to them, but what they end up doing to themselves and their inability to hold themselves accountable. Hence they often blame everyone else for their poverty rather than accept the fact that they will remain homeless until they put themselves at the centre of their problem. I would suggest that we have to take the same attitude. Until we recognize the power for change rests with us, we will change nothing. It is the collective power of our abilities and inabilities to change that we must recognise. Until we invent new means of buying and selling that do not enrich one group at the expense of another, we are going nowhere. Until we go back to the marketplace and reform it, the poor will not get a living wage and we will continue to increase the gap between rich and poor. The reform of the marketplace around fair trade is the only way forward. That means buying products so that people can feed and educate and care for their children. All the Robin Hood taxes in the world will change nothing….

We need a deeper, less off-the-shelf protest politics if we are to get anywhere in getting rid of poverty. We will have to place ourselves right in the centre of the equation.

Endpiece: What’s in a region? Organisations, leagues, administrators, politicians, service providers, utilities and businesses all struggle to define regions which make sense to their needs. The East of England is a brilliantly ambiguous concept. Do we think of nodes, centres and hierarchies or do we think borders, networks, arteries? Build out from a notional core or arbitrarily divide up the bigger cake like imperialist settlers in days gone by? Do we attempt to articulate, however ill-defined, a unique identity? There is no perfect answer. Ask in


Peterborough, Bedford, Watford or Thurrock and you may have a surprise! In the RSA we seem to have the makings of a core in Norfolk, Suffolk, Essex, Cambridgeshire and Hertfordshire so long as we know which parts are really London. But where the boundaries are land not sea - I am not so sure. Unlike our

national government we quite like porous boundaries and learn to live with them, even celebrate them.

Was it Worth Doing? We used an online survey to gauge delegate feedback on various aspects of the conference. About 40 per cent of those who attended replied. The vast majority, over 80%, were satisfied with the event, the way it was organised, liked what they heard at the keynote and RSA session, were clear about how to contribute going forward and wished for a similar regional event to be organised in the future - some were thrilled to bits with the day. Most attended to learn more about regional activity, to network, to find potential activities in which to participate or simply be stimulated by being alongside their peers and most felt that their objectives for the event had been met. Some commented that the programme was available only during the previous week which left inadequate time for making informed choices. The building signage could also have been better.

On the day some of the timings were too tight and workshops unbalanced for some attendees. Some presenters felt they had been short-changed. Many were delighted with their platform. This is an area for significant improvement in the future. While, in general, the catering attracted positive comments, we failed in not catering for special diets. Elsewhere we have apologised for this. Some found it expensive. The Marketplace was very useful for many but others did not get the time or the opportunity to use it sufficiently. Networking for some can appear an exclusive clique to others. We could have tried harder to ensure that after meeting and greeting Fellows were looked after before the event started.

Most comments received were very positive and there was virtual unanimity that it would be worth repeating the regional conference. The question is where? If it becomes a regular event it must move around our very clumsy region. The organising team attempted to make the day busy and full. We ended up with an ambitious programme which did not work in every respect but, by and large, most people had a good experience. The proof of success will be whether some of the networking and learning on the day results in new projects and groupings across the region. Get those Catalyst applications prepared!

Feedback on the Marketplace The RSA East England conference proved to be a worthwhile experience for the Academy. We garnered interest in our organisation and had the opportunity to speak with a number of interesting people engaged in urban-related activities. We are keen to foster our relationship with the RSA and meet new people, and this conference afforded us that opportunity. Bright Pryde Academy of Urbanism. Cambridgeshire Community Foundation will run a pilot with 10-12 local voluntary groups to see if there are ways they can help each other by exchanging skills and resources for mutual benefit, using the timebanking principles. The aim will be to link this with the timebanking that is in operation around the county. Anyone interested to participate should contact:

At the RSA East of England Conference I was kept busy (alongside my work colleague Lauren Cooper) recording soundbites of some of the Fellows and event organisers from the day. It was a brilliant event, with Big Issue CEO John Bird’s talk a particular highlight. Terry Lee We were delighted the National Trust could be involved in the conference. It was great to meet new contacts and find out about other projects underway in the East. We’re already now finalising our plans for contributing to the Changing Chelmsford event in the autumn. I am looking forward to developing other ideas arising from the Cambridge event - there is huge potential that arises when potential partners with shared values and objectives get together in this way. Ben Cowell

The market place was a great opportunity to test the appetite of Fellows for collaborating to launch, pilot and scale a new community supported agriculture (CSA) initiative – The People’s Pantry – in the East of England. Not only was the general feedback from Fellows very encouraging but a number of connections were made with Fellows who actively want to get involved in a personal capacity. I was also presented with a very promising opportunity to explore a collaboration with a well-established national organisation with compatible objectives. Just one of many great outcomes from a highly positive day. Gavin Shelton FRGS

Heard in the marketplace

Vikki Heywood ‘The work of the RSA is to promote 21st century enlightenment through ideas and action. We are a change organisation… looking for ways we can enrich society, make the world a better place, by bringing people together to consider active ways that we might change things.’

meeting with members of the RSA… how we could reform giving, so that people were moving on from poverty, rather than being maintained in it. I got a chance to talk to members - very useful for me’

John Bird ‘…reform of giving, which is about giving opportunities, not just handouts. So I was very interested in

whatever our focus, whether it is urbanism, education or sustainability… actually the links between us are very clear. It’s very important that people should meet and talk

Peter Carolin, Cambridge 2030 Vision ‘Seeing that,

together instead of sitting in their own little silos, getting on with their part of the job’

Simon Gillighan, Adec ‘Here to try

and meet people with similar interests and see what we can possibly do with working together’

Jackie Bennett, Paper Trail ‘Useful

networking. Everyone I have spoken to has had a useful idea that I might be able to use in the future’


Just heard ab ama zing Fr out the ogmore paper mill c om best of Victo bining ria C21st engin n and eering.

ring Today I’m chai n io at uc ed the strand of the d conference an get to use an ard! actual chalk bo per …that’s the pa e mor its – ry st du in The interesting than t! ou Office makes to You re-cycle it e or create even m knowledge.

Mick and I enjoyed the day hugely and met some very interesting people… Mick had a great time in his workshop… really connected with delegates… He now wants to join the RSA … it was good to hear so many positive things for a change. As someone recently retired to help me think through what I am going to get involved in. Everything about the event was excellent.

Bri Ke lliant @K n B a n s e s s i abo iwan ks fr on wi a n d u t s u j a t a l k o m th l o c c a s st a i n i n g Br i a l c o h mo a bilit lli a mm bs y nt i d e u n i ti e i n Exc a. s. p re e l l e n A n s e nt a t a b n a b e ti o n Ch out C l Brow from e lm ha n n sfo gin rd. g

Superb @as ko fellow @Kiw kaUK anja tells us abo ut meansofexc @ hange: democratis ing tech for social im pact (fyi @ evgenymoro zov)

Being inspired by the case studies I heard. The conference reflected that the notion of an Eastern region is and will continue to be problematic because of the diversity across the counties. The chance to network! I have no negative comments. I was too engrossed in learning… Casual yet purposeful atmosphere facilitated networking and engagement.

Not sure how we’ll follow John Bird, but will be trying to change … ideas into action Excellent presentation from Annabel Brown about Changing Chelmsford. Tony Lyall and Ipswich waterfront.

The local conference team was large and changing. The key movers in the Cambridge team were: John Blandford, Carlos De la Riva, Jo Durning, Michael Fincham, Chris Kington, Sue Martin, Bob Porrer, Bob Satchwell, Gavin Shelton, Mary Sweeney and Sam Weller. Thanks to Chris Kington for front page photograph and to Robert Porrer for all other conference photographs. Bulletin design by Magstar Ltd.


East of England RSA Committee members 2012-13 Chair: Malcolm Noble; Deputy Chair: Susanna Pickering; Treasurer: Aled Jones; Programme Secretary: Sue Hind Woodward, Secretary: Lis Goodwin, John Elliott, Jerry Gibson, Chris Kington, Christine O’Hanlon, Wendi Pasco McGregor, Alaric Pugh, Keith Richards ‘Excellent RSA East England conference, all day lots of thoughts and huge commitment to action. If you spot a model question it!’

Dear Malcolm Just once again to say thank you for a stimulating day that has set a high bar for succeeding Regional Conferences. You have left us with a number of well thought through ideas to think about… Your marketplace concept worked so well as a space to engage with each other over meal and coffee breaks. It offered many opportunities for informing Fellowship and visitors of the work of the Region and to showcase key RSA initiatives, including continuously screened Animate material.  I could not help noticing a changing audience around this screen captivated by the content throughout the day.  The afternoon ‘Education’ workshop prompted a comment that the Animate ‘tree of knowledge’ featured only men, so someone was watching intently.  Mixing the excellent food and the manned stands seemed to be the key ingredient quite apart from your high quality venue.   The well patronised lunchtime ‘roof’ walk and the post conference Cambridge walks were nice complementary touches which helped mix the audience. 

Meeting and chatting with one another is a vital part of Fellowship, in this instance greatly assisted by the fine weather and Chris Kington’s knowledgeable commentary. Incidentally I left the evening walk at 7.30pm.  No one seemed to want to go home.   It was your core programme and carefully thought through workshops that have left the deepest impression. The professionalism started before arrival with your printed programme incorporating what amounts to an annual report, followed on arrival by a well organised welcome and refreshments in the Market Place.  It felt good even before anything actually started.  Smooth professionalism shone through it all.  You, your team and Vikki conveyed an image of a confident and purposeful RSA.   On the workshops, I made an effort to move around, managing three of the four, (Community Based Initiatives, Urbanism and Education). Again the discussions were structured to engage the audience in a purposeful way to further the work of your regional

themes to the extent of having real evidence of activity to show at the end of the day through the direct participation of those attending: a turbo boost to ideas that gives something to work on… 

Dr Peter Robinson Chair RSA East Midlands

A chance to catch up with the outputs – and keep up the momentum East of England RSA AGM Saturday 14 Sept 2013 10.45 for 11.00 Flatford Mill Field Centre, East Bergholt, Suffolk CO7 6UL Flatford Mill is on the River Stour close to the Suffolk-Essex border. The field centre buildings (run as an educational centre by the Field Studies Council) particularly the Mill and Willy Lott’s House, are instantly recognisable since they feature in many paintings by John Constable.

The Centre is at the end of a lane (beyond the National Trust car park) which has no through traffic. It offers visitors a much sought-after sense of tranquility to complement a unique study environment. After the regional AGM we shall have lunch in the Mill House (£18.00) and a tour of the site including the recently installed archimedes screw turbine in the mill race, Valley Farm and other recently renovated buildings and a walk through the delightful countryside with resident tutor Jonathan Oldham. Book in advance: http://www.eventbrite.

RSA - Unleashing Potential - Building a better society 14

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