Hiya friends, I hope your year is starting well. Do you want to connect more with others?

If your thing is grass-roots transformation in Teesside I think you’ll want to be a part of this…

For the last year, every chance we got, our grass-roots network ‘hope4boro’ has been exploring where we go next: what do we need to help us all to develop, grow and boost our opportunities? What kind of set-up adds to our shared efforts but without weighing us down in extra commitments and expectations? How can we magnify the good going in each others work?

Those conversations were fantastic but could have felt chopped-up. You may well have been around for some of them but feel quite distant from any bigger picture. Our fluidity is precious but can also be challenging. Well, we made some big decisions and want to start with clearer ways to communicate.

So here’s what’s emerging:
» Things often need to die for new life to appear. We’ve stripped-down hope4boro so we can grow fresh purpose. That will flex as we work it out together. In essence we’re a network – a community of activists. We each work independently but this space helps us look for opportunities to share resources and find solidarity.
» We’ve kept it all light and voluntary. We can all get busy – so you chose how involved you get. You can throw yourself in (there are people who are passionate about cultivating our connections practically), help where you can or just drop-in for that bits that help you. We’ll keep open channels on what’s happening and ways we can all influence decisions. The basic starting point will be to sign up as a Community Connector. That keeps you in the loop, adds you to our fresh network, gives you a stake but will only mean the commitment you chose beyond that. Our hub will also act as a local team for Community Organisers and potentially for other networks.
» Some of us are going to form a consortium to make shared funding easier to access. Sound good? We’ll all benefit from extra infrastructure but if you want your project to be part of bids you’ll need to actively engage.
» One of the first wins from that is some money to build a better network website. That will give you space to add info about your work, which could help give you an online presence. We’ll also develop a members area to chat internally.
» Things that are serving us well like Mixing Pot and Boro SOUP will keep going. They have their own teams but are tied in to this network. They’ll experiment with other ideas throughout the year.
» We started a team huddle on Mondays, 10am at Off the Ground. It’s a great way to start the week – and simply involves checking in with other community connectors.
» We can bring in some more shared learning opportunities and we talked a lot about activist mental health. Some opportunities soon to be announced but you can help shape that program.
» Linked to that, we have cash to send some of us on fact-finding trips. Want to visit a cool project in another town? We’ll have day trips to places where we can check out a few inspiring ideas together.

Hopefully that’s enough to make you want to sign-up and see where this leads. You’ll be welcome to drop-in on stuff regardless but I really feel something special is forming here. Click here to take a very easy first step and get updates. If you could do with a face-to-face chat about it just shout. You know I love a catch-up.

Let’s do this!
Andy Falconer
(getting the communication rolling, but expect to hear from others)