With an ever-growing urban population, the gap between people’s day-to-day lives and our natural world is widening. We live in a society full of distractions, and nature is becoming further removed from many people’s frame of reference.
Fellow Florence Wilkinson is looking to overcome this gap through her new app Warblr, for which she has just launched a crowdfunding campaign on the RSA’s area on Kickstarter with support from RSA Catalyst.
“Birds are indicators of the environment. If they are in trouble, we know we’ll soon be in trouble”, writes Roger Tory Peterson. And I’m sad to say that right now, our British birds are in trouble. Just last week Government figures revealed that populations of farm birds, such as grey partridge, turtle dove and the starling, are down by more than 85% since the 1970s.
We are losing our biodiversity at a terrifying rate: between 1000 and 10,000 times the natural extinction rate, according to experts. Never has our flora and fauna been in greater need of protection.
In the light of such figures, any attempt to take positive action may seem like a drop in the ocean, but we hope that we can create a little ripple, which alongside many other organisations will help us make waves. Read more
How do you celebrate 100 years of Fellowship? How about finding 100 younger people to join the RSA as Fellows?
On 24 September the RSA’s new Centenary Young Fellowship scheme was launched to celebrate the centenary year of Fellowship. 100 budding young changemakers joined the Fellowship to support the RSA’s ethos of ‘Enriching society through ideas and action’. To help turn ideas into action we often need a great deal of support, so we’d like to take this opportunity to thank all those who contributed to this scheme. Our new Centenary Young Fellows (CYFs) are spread across the country with a range of skills and experiences and I have no doubt we will be seeing the emergence of numerous exciting projects from them CYFs over the coming years. Read about some of this cohorts’ current work and offer your support on our website.
This is a guest blog from Pete Burden, following the event The role of men in supporting women into leadership, organised by RSA Brighton and Hove.
I recently attended an RSA and University of Brighton event on the question ‘What is the role of men in supporting women into leadership?‘ This was a follow-up to a larger event a few months back entitled ‘How women lead‘. That was a great session, with a lot of energy. Creating a follow-up must have seemed a very logical next step.
All the panelists seemed to agree that there is a problem: there are not enough women in leadership positions – in both public and private sectors. And as Simon Fanshawe, OBE, pointed out ‘complex problems require difference and diversity’. Many of our most significant problems today, from the social to the environmental to the economic are complex problems, problems that require different ways of thinking and acting.
Filed under: Fellowship, Recovery, Social Economy
Leeds-based fellow Rob Greenland updates us on the progress of Leeds Empties, which the RSA recently supported with a £5,000 Catalyst grant.
You probably have an idea as to what an empty home looks like. Boarded-up, semi-derelict, with an overgrown front garden. And it’ll probably not be the only empty home on the street.
The reality, at least in Leeds, is very different. Perhaps 10% of our 5000 long-term empty homes look like this. The rest are empty – but in appearance are no different to any other house on the street.
That’s not to say they’re not a problem. They’ll be costing the owners money – and, whilst there’s a chronic housing shortage, it’s a wasted resource.
More often than not the owner would like to bring their home back into use, but they don’t know where to start. That’s where our Empty Homes Doctor service comes in. Read more
Here at the RSA, we want to increase the power to create; our belief that all should have the freedom and power to turn their ideas into reality. Crowdfunding is a technology that helps people to get funding to launch their ideas. So I thought I’d share how four variations of crowdfunding technology are being used to launch ideas:
- beyond “£x0,000 pledged from x,000 backers so far” and “Joe Bloggs backed us”
- corporate social responsibility made easy
- we know crowdfunding can be used to help make films, but it can also make audiences too
- crowdsourcing crowdfunding (what do these words even mean??!).
The number one ask from Fellows is connecting and networking with Fellows. Building on this the Regional team has been developing the RSA Engage series. During 2015 we will deliver over 40 Engage events across the UK from Falmouth to Glasgow, Norwich to Dublin. The series provides two types of activity:
Engage - targeted for larger audiences between 50-150
Connect - targeted at smaller groups of 20-30
Both Engage and Connect fuse together project-showcasing combined with structured networking. Essential for the project pitches is a core ask from Fellows, outlining their specific needs for help and support. Feedback from Fellows has been extremely positive with attendees enjoying the balance between the networking and opportunities to get involved in different projects. The series also offers attendees an increased understanding of the RSA’s charitable mission of finding practical solutions to social challenges.
Staff will be delivering the series as core way to engage and network across the Fellowship. The Engage format has been developed through events in Manchester, Bristol, Birmingham and London. Upcoming locations for the series include Sheffield, Edinburgh, Newcastle Gateshead and Nottingham, as well as continuing regular Engage activity in London. This autumn we are developing the RSA Connect format which is aimed at smaller numbers focused on one or two projects, similar to Engage but on a smaller scale. Locations for Connect include Falmouth, Liverpool, Cheltenham and Exeter. The events take place where we have recognised clusters of Fellows and good transport links.
The Engage series will complement existing regional activity and provide a strong event framework and planned calendar of events across the UK, reaching as many Fellows as possible. With each event there will be tailored follow up on individual projects, ideas, introductions and connections.
Our overall aims and objectives for the programme are:
Connect: providing structured networking sessions
Inform: outline RSA activity, projects and routes to engagement using 4 ways to engage
Inspire: demonstrate how the RSA enriches society through ideas and action
How can Fellows help or get involved? You can volunteer to pitch at a future Engage event; please get in touch. The Engage series thrives on Fellows looking to share their stories and identify the help they need. We are keen to hear from Fellows and organisations who are seeking advice from the Fellowship and Fellows involved in venues that can provide RSA Spaces.
Whether you attend as a participant or a pitcher we look forward to meeting you at a future Engage event and exploring how you can help support and develop the work of the RSA. Email firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to get involved or simply find out more.
Head of Regions
In the most recent RSA Journal, I read with interest the piece on competition by Margaret Heffernan – particularly, the part that describes an experiment designed to engineer a ‘super flock’ of hens. To see whether increased competition would create higher levels of production, geneticist William Muir pulled the top egg-producing hens out of a regular flock and put them together. After just two generations of this new flock, the results were remarkable – six of the super hens had been pecked to death by the remaining three, whilst the original flock was performing better than ever.
This experiment suggests that if you only value the so-called ‘cream of the crop’ you are probably missing a trick or two. Societies need variety and balance in order to function healthily – you simply can’t have everybody doing the same thing, no matter how valuable it is deemed.
The article got me thinking about our education system and the levels of competition and selection. My own experience saw my peers divided into two camps at age 11: clever, and not so clever. Even for those who weren’t required to take the dreaded 11+, academic pressure remains a dominant feature of school life. Certainly, an element of competition can be motivating, but just as the ‘cream’ ought not to be scooped off the top and isolated at their own expense, nor should the rest feel their particular strengths have no value to society.
Many of the RSA Fellows I’ve met over the past year have been teachers, and all were unequivocally passionate about the difference a good education can have on the trajectory of a person’s life. Whatever the challenges in the classroom might be, Fellows have a wealth of ideas about where improvements can be made that will potentially transform the confidence of their students.
One such teacher is Jo Taylor FRSA, who, having participated in Teach First’s leadership programme, has gone on to co-found Wall Display – an education project which has recently applied for an RSA Catalyst grant.
“As a teacher I saw how much of a difference an engaged parent could make to their child’s aspirations. I also saw how hard it was for parents to be involved in their child’s education. I wanted to create a way for them to see the great things their children were doing.”
With children from disadvantaged schools, parental disengagement can be a big problem because if the parent had a bad experience at school themselves, they may be less inclined to encourage their children to participate. Many of these parents may have become disengaged because they did not perform well in exams, and with the continual emphasis on exams and grades, it’s increasingly important for teachers to find ways to celebrate the diversity of students’ skills and ensure they do not become disenchanted with learning altogether.
Wall Display has addressed this issue by creating an online platform for teachers to share their pupils’ work in such a way that it displays the creativity and individuality of the work whilst pushing it beyond the boundaries of the classroom.
“Students can get really demotivated producing amazing work which nobody ever sees, the idea is that Wall Display provides them with an audience for what they do in school.”
When teachers post work from students, members of the general public can give badges to work they like and other teachers can offer feedback.
I think this responsive aspect of the project is critical because if your teacher does not like your work, it might feel like theirs is the only opinion that counts. Wall Display’s strength is that it allows an array of opinions to reach the students – an experience which is far more representative of life after school.
Jo spoke about the progress of the project at a recent RSA Engage event, and asked other Fellows to get involved in the following ways:
- Do you know a teacher or school who might like to use Wall Display?
- Do you know anyone who works for Ofsted or an education body?
- Do you know any business leaders who are passionate about education?
The RSA has partnered with Teach First for seven years, and we are able to offer a reduced rate of Fellowship for all Teach First participants – contact Alex Barker for more information.
Filed under: Education Matters, Fellowship, Innovation
Many of the RSA events are live-streamed, aiming to reach those unable to make the regular trip to London. A great example of an organisation that uses this feature is the GTA University Centre, a not-for-profit training provider based in Guernsey, who regularly overcome the distance barrier and bring the RSA to their local community. Marketing Manager, Duncan Spencer, tells us about his experience.
“Guernsey may be a small island but it has a diverse economy and does business on an international scale, and we have found that there is a real desire to hear the latest ideas in business, technology and societal development.”
GTA began hosting livestream events from the RSA at the beginning of this year as a means of introducing new ideas to the Island’s community. We aim to provide opportunities for Guernsey audiences to listen to high quality, innovative and educational speakers and participate in a lively discussion on the subject, but with a local focus. RSA livestream programmes are available to all online, but we believe we can add extra value by bringing people together to share the experience and enjoy a stimulating debate and discussion prompted by the RSA speaker and the Q&As. Read more
This blog was originally posted on the College of Arts & Humanities, University of Brighton, blog. Read the original post. This comes in advance of next week’s event run by RSA Brighton and Hove. Find out more or and book your place at the event.
What role should men play in supporting more women into leadership?
Following on from the success of RSA Brighton and Hove’s recent How Women Lead event, this follow-up talk is chaired by CEO of Brighton & Hove City Council Penny Thompson CBE. A deliberately-chosen all-male panel will contribute their views and take audience questions in this lively debate.
Contributing their views and taking audience questions in this lively debate are:
- Simon Fanshawe OBE, writer and broadcaster
- Michael Edwards, CEO, Albion in the Community
- Giles York, Chief Constable, Sussex Police
- Richard Upton, CEO, Cathedral Group
- James Rowlands, Brighton & Hove Violence against Women Commissioner.
This event is open to both Fellows and non-Fellows and the bar is open from 6.30pm to 9.30pm – book your place now. You can follow the event on Twitter using the hashtag #howwomenlead. This event is organised by Brighton and Hove RSA in partnership with the University of Brighton College of Arts and Humanities.
What role should men play in supporting more women into leadership? Pre-event Q&A
“Structures are in place to enable women to succeed, however, we sometimes struggle to hold the managers to account to ensure they abide by the structures with creating a flexible working place that accommodates different needs at different times.”
Filed under: Arts and Society, Design and Society, Education Matters, Fellowship, Innovation
Support the UK’s next creative generation
This is a guest blog from the team at National Saturday Club. They’re looking for Fellows in the design, architecture and engineering industries who may be able to offer masterclasses, visits or creative career guidance, as well as Fellows who can introduce young people to their cultural institutions.
The National Art & Design Saturday Club provides young people aged 14-16 with the unique opportunity to study art and design every Saturday morning at their local college or university for free. Now in its sixth year, the Saturday Club runs in 41 locations across the UK, in colleges, universities and at the Victoria and Albert Museum. Read more