Engage, connect and be inspired

January 19, 2015 by · 4 Comments
Filed under: Fellowship 

At the RSA, we always set out to engage, connect and inspire Fellows across the UK and now we will be using a new event format to boost this. Our RSA Engage series has been turbo charged for 2015- moving from its trial phase in 2014 to become a cornerstone of our activity.

The Engage series is a national programme of events aimed at showcasing RSA activity and providing space for our Fellows to meet, share their ideas and offer support to Fellow-led projects in a simple and structured way.  To give you a flavour of what we have in store, here are some of my favourite stories from 2014.

 

Engage

IMG_7791Okay, so this isn’t a story, rather a call out for you to create the story. 2014 Engage pilots saw a raft of great people and ideas brought together. 2015 is going to be bigger and better through our Engage and Connect events will have created space for 184 project pitches and 44 Connect discussion slot. That’s 228 potential new ideas to be discussed and shared. These events are free and open to all, so do invite friends and colleagues that are keen to find out more about the RSA.

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The Big Idea: The Rubbish Diet

January 19, 2015 by · Leave a Comment
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rubbish diet logo

Imagine a world where we don’t throw anything away. Everything is reused, composted or recycled and people living on the same street work together and share resources.

Katy Anderson FRSA from social enterprise Cwm Harry is working towards this vision of a zero waste world through The Rubbish Diet, the UK’s slimming club for bins. She would like to invite Fellows across the UK to join the thousands of people who are helping bringing zero waste closer by committing to a completely new kind of New Year’s Diet.

 Why?

Across the UK, huge amounts of valuable recyclable materials are being lost to landfill and incineration.  In West London, where the Rubbish Diet is working in six boroughs, 67% of the waste sent to landfill could have been recycled.

It goes to landfill by train, the waste train is one-third of a mile long, taking 1,000 tonnes of “rubbish”, six days a week.  1,000,000 recyclable bottles a week go to landfill every week on the train, when they could have been made into new bottles and been back on the supermarket shelves in just 3 weeks.

How does it work?

Anyone can join The Rubbish Diet by taking an easy online challenge to slim their bins. The Diet will motivate you to set a goal and measure your progress by tackling two simple steps over just a few weeks.

You’ll receive emails with great tips on how to recycle to the max, make the most of your food and avoid waste altogether. Dieters experience very quickly the positive difference their actions make to their waste and they are encouraged to share their ideas and questions, creating a whole new conversation about waste reduction and the positive impact it has on our lives.

Dieters then spread the word amongst their friends and family, and so the Diet grows…

Crucially, The Rubbish Diet tackles the issues that make it hard to avoid waste – this quarter we’re focusing on packaging, culminating with a workshop at the Resource Event on Thursday 5 March 2015.

The Results

On average people slim their bins by 40% on the Diet, and the change is permanent.  Slimming your bin will save you money as you’ll reduce food waste and start reusing more, and it has obvious benefits for the environment – food waste alone in the UK is the equivalent of one in four cars on our roads in terms of carbon emissions.

Thousands of people have already taken the Rubbish Diet across UK, taking it online, in collaboration with their whole street or in a group. Jackie and Howard from Shrewsbury took the Diet with their street, meeting to talk rubbish with their neighbours over tea and cake.  They now have slim bins, run clothes swaps and share trips to the recycling centre, and have gotten to know their neighbours! Since they started two years ago, they’ve saved 6 tonnes from landfill.

Ashley Street Dieters two years on

Ashley Street Dieters two years on

Simon who shrank his overflowing wheelie bin by two thirds said:

“I’m so proud of what we’ve achieved – you could heat the house on my smugness.  The whole family is loving our weekly trip to the market where we can buy food with less packaging, and save money too”.

Taking a close look at what we throw away has a real impact on our lifestyles. As Dieter Sarah from Harrow explains.

“I thought I was good at recycling, but The Rubbish Diet Challenge has really made a big impact on how I view, well, everything in fact.  It’s really changed my life. It made me think about the make do and mend culture that everyone had back in the 1940s, 50s and 60s. I am much more careful about what I buy, and I reuse and mend much more than I used to. ”    

The Rubbish Diet solution finally provides a structured, yet fun, community based way to recycle. Sign-up and let Katy know how you think it could be shared in your area.

Katy Anderson is Co-founder of The Rubbish Diet Challenge.  To find out more visit http://www.therubbishdiet.org.uk/ or contact Katy on katya@therubbishdiet.org.uk

Ideas

December 22, 2014 by · Leave a Comment
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I love ideas. I suppose it’s one of the fundamental things which attracted me to working for the RSA and which sustains my time as a Fellow and member of staff. My inbox is invariably filled with emails starting “I have an idea I wanted to discuss”, a tantalising opportunity to explore something new, usually over a cup of coffee or four (when asked what I did for a living, my son once explained that “Daddy drinks coffee”).

Of course not all the ideas are achievable or in line with the RSA’s objectives and Change Aims. This is something that is becoming ever more the case as we progress with the strategic review, and the clarity of purpose which it is bringing to our work. We had gone through a period of letting “a thousand flowers bloom” which definitely had its benefits for re-energising the wider Fellowship, however a more focused approach will allow us to bring maximum support to key projects.

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“I can see a better time, when all our dreams come true”

December 18, 2014 by · Leave a Comment
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Last night, as I was woken up by a drunk housemate coming back from her Christmas party in the wee small hours, I was struck by the oddity of the pre-Christmas indulgence culture.

There are two parts to this issue I found myself considering at 3am this morning. The first is our acceptance of excessive alcohol consumption: something that my colleagues in the West Kent Recovery Team explore. The second is the plausibility of one individual to make a difference to society without sacrificing their enjoyment of the season.

It’s tricky to know how to navigate the plethora of opportunities to do good effectively. So in an attempt to summarise my (somewhat sleep-deprived) thoughts, I’ve categorised opportunities into: Give generously; don’t change your lifestyle, change your supplier; and everything changes.

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The Art of Volunteering

December 11, 2014 by · Leave a Comment
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I recently travelled up to Alloa in Clackmannanshire to support a Fellow-led project named Resonate.  Now, Clackmannanshire (and particularly Alloa) is not an area that receives much attention in Scotland, let alone further afield – until relatively recently my knowledge of it had consisted of the football team, personal attendance at the beer festival and their world leading work in phonics – so it great to see such an inspiring project thriving in that area, making a tangible difference to the people in their community.  Although it ostensibly started off as a community arts project, Resonate acts as so much more now – it is a vibrant, inclusive heart of its community, passionately supported by service users, creative, activists and other brilliant people. I was in Alloa, on this occasion, to provide for support for Resonate as they have been put forward for a Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service and Johnny Stewart, the Lord Lieutenant of Clackmannanshire, was visiting the project to assess its suitability.  So a group of us gathered with mugs of coffee and pastries in hand, ready to meet with the Lord Lieutenant and answer his questions about Resonate.

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Help kickstart increased access to arts and gender equality in the UK theatre – All female Richard III production aims to change the conversation

December 10, 2014 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Arts and Society, Fellowship 

Fellow Yvonne Murphy guest blogs about her all female production of Richard III.  Read about her plans and find out how you can help make it happen.

I am a new RSA & Clore Fellow and I run Omidaze Productions. I am staging an all-female production of Shakespeare’s Richard III, supported by the Arts Council of Wales and Wales Millennium Centre in Cardiff in February 2015 and I need your support. I have launched an RSA Kickstarter campaign because we literally cannot afford to pay everyone we want to be involved and make it happen as planned unless we reach our target and I need your support.

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Creating Restorative Justice

December 10, 2014 by · Leave a Comment
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rjw logoRestorative Justice is achieved when the person who has been harmed by a crime is supported by a third party to communicate with the person who caused the harm, to the benefit of both parties, their families and their communities. It is achieved through an impartial communication service, which ensures that the communication is safe, supported, and voluntary. RJ working set up as a social enterprise in Cornwall to provide such a service, and also to tackle the issue of why, in England and Wales, Restorative Justice (RJ) is unknown to the vast majority of people. This affects take-up of the offer of RJ: if it seems like a strange experiment it won’t be so likely to be chosen by victims of crime struggling with overwhelming anger or acute vulnerability. The mainstream population has not yet recognised the potential of this way of working to reduce the frustration, fear, anxiety and sense of powerlessness that are generated when one person harms another. It is not yet normal to request RJ, or to be offered a meeting, as it is in many other countries. Nearby in Northern Ireland over 14,000 Restorative Justice ‘Conferences’ have made a huge contribution to rebuilding community over the last twelve years.

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Big Idea: Wikipedia Voice Introductions

Imagine reading a Wikipedia biography, and the subject says hello and introduces themselves. That’s the idea behind a project run by Fellow Andy Mabbett, called The “Wiki Voice Introduction Project” (“Wiki VIP”- geddit?)

“Hello, my name is Andy Mabbett, and I was born in Birmingham, England. I’ve been a Wikipedia editor since 2003 and Wikipedian-in-Residence at a number of institutions, most recently the Royal Society of Chemistry”

- If I said that out loud, it would take around ten or twelve seconds, but in that time, you’d know what my voice sounds like (enough to confirm my identity, if you’d heard me on the radio), a little about me (enough to distinguish me from someone else with the same name), and how my name is pronounced (useful if you’re about to meet me, or mention me in a presentation or on air). In fact, you’d have the canonical pronunciation of my name: mine.

Since we started a project to make such recordings a while ago, we’ve had similar contributions from  Adil Ray, Alice Arnold, Sir Peter Bazalgette, Emma Freud, Charles Duke (one of twelve people to walk on the Moon) and a host of others – including, of course Fellows of the RSA, like Stephen Fry, Howard Goodall and computer scientist Sue Black.

We have contributions in Welsh, Dutch, French, Polish, Catalan, and Russian, too – some people record themselves in more than one language. The contributors include scientists, authors, journalists, artists, explorers, librarians, a peer of the realm, and even many Eurovision Song Contest competitors! Each recording is – like all Wikipedia content – available under an open licence, allowing anyone to reuse it.

How you can help
I want to invite anyone – everyone – who is the subject of a biography in Wikipedia, to provide a brief recording, saying the same kind of things about themselves – or a little more if they care to. Many fellows will have Wikipedia articles about them (but please – don’t write a Wikipedia autobiography; it’s really frowned upon) and can make a recording on their phone, tablet, laptop or desktop computer and email it to me for uploading, or upload it to Wikipedia’s sister project, Wikimedia Commons themselves.

While not every Fellow has an article about them, I bet every one of us has a colleague, friend or relative who does. Some Fellows no doubt work as PAs or agents; they can supply recordings of their clients.

Imagine if we could hear the voices of RSA fellows of the past. Let’s make sure future generations can hear ours.

Andy Mabbett, FRSA

Andy Mabbett

•    View Andy’s blog ‘Pigs on the wing’.
•    See a guide to making a Wiki VIP recording, and more examples
•    Contact Andy by email at andy@pigsonthewing.org.uk

Big Idea: EyeFocus Accelerator

Disrupting Eye CareEyeCare

Start-up accelerators are going through an evolution, generally becoming more focused on verticals, such as digital health or fintech. I have taken this one step further, establishing an accelerator focused on eye care.

I am testing the idea that a very focused accelerator can offer better support for the start-ups, but also that it can act as a catalyst to build out an ecosystem. In this instance we are building the eye-care innovation ecosystem.

The accelerator is a 12 week program, and therefore a short, focused period of activity around which to cluster people. It is not labour intensive for partners and mentors, yet due to its intensity is very content rich and has high returns for those involved.

The returns are more than just supporting the start-ups. Mentoring is a great way to learn about new innovations, to challenge your own ideas, and to meet other mentors. Equally, our partners and sponsors are getting involved in a very focused networking opportunity. We hope to create value for the whole ecosystem, whilst at the same time offering intense support for our start-ups. Read more

The Culture Challenge – cultural provision for schools

November 18, 2014 by · Leave a Comment
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Fellow Kayte Judge has been working on an interactive ‘culture map’ of Bedfordshire alongside a ‘culture checklist’ setting out a cultural entitlement for young people, based on curriculum needs and research with support from RSA Catalyst. 

culture The Culture Challenge is the second Catalyst fund I have been awarded. For my first I ran pop up shop projects over 2 years in Bedford and while I achieved a lot and learned a lot, what I didn’t do was build a sustainable model. Therefore I was determined that any new venture would need to evolve from the ‘fuelled by raw energy’ school of social entrepreneurship and be something much more sustainable and partnership driven. Read more

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