ABCD Europe Workshop July 22 - 24 July 2014 sponsored by The Barnwood Trust
Cormac, Martin Simon, David, Steve, Sally, Maureen, Sam, Martin Johnstone, Al ,Philip ,Tom ,Ellie ,Marc and Tom Dewar
These notes are an attempt to capture a sense of the scope of our ideas, thoughts, discussions and conclusions.
We had no mandate to make any decisions on behalf of the main ABCDE group.
We began with a session in which each of us talked about what we wanted to see happen within ABCD Europe and of our own peak experiences to date with ABCD.
The key words that peppered the content of these stories were:
Re-connecting – Unlocking – Kinship – Credibility - Speaking to power – Navigators - Collective wisdom – Autonomy – Intentionality - Standing back – Participation – Consensus – Work in the world as it is – Stories - Disruptive innovations - Acceptance at street level – Use of Social Media - Neighbourliness - Revolution – Conversations – Solidarity - Restore a culture of community – Learning – Rigour - Form follows function
These are some of the points arising from the presentations and training sessions facilitated by Cormac and Tom
ABCD is not a model it is a perspective.
How do we maintain a democratic approach when operating at both the hyper local level and in an international arena.
“How do we get from the bees to the trees?”
We are on to something big and important, but it is also frail - and open to people misusing it and abusing it. How do we protect it?
ABCD Europe is to be a nest for enterprise and innovation and all about facilitating and supporting those who are doing the doing...
Creating little pockets of a different type of world and moving away from projects and programmes.
Here are some ‘sound bites’ from our discussions :
Professionalism is about competence – someone can be the most competent but non-qualified person in the world and vice versa.
Common characteristics of ABCD:
"Civilisations flourish when old men plant trees under whose shade they will never sit."
Another 5 community assets
(alongside the 5 ABCD "classics")
What was alive in the group?
How visible or invisible are we seeking to be? If invisible, we can be much more light touch. Who do we want to be visible to? Where do we want to place ourselves?
Our focus is not on institutional reform but on making them aware of where they have stolen power from communities in the name of help.
How deep is the link between ABCD and social justice?
We are aware that ABCD could become a tool of an oppressor – e.g. if the rationale for ABCD is budget savings in strident times or deflecting the responsibility for failure in any society onto communities.
Gathering ABCD stories and thereby letting people speak for themselves. Maybe a European “Green Book”. (The original Green Book was by John P. Kretzmann and John L. McKnight and called “Building Communities From the Inside Out” ACTA, Chicago. 1993.)
We have a sense of what ABCD is for us in Europe in the here and now. Stories of times when neighbours got together and made a difference will be at the heart of any new book, (or audio or video format).
Finally we asked ourselves:-
Are we representative of our own communities?
What would the community member sitting on our shoulder make of our conversations and would what we are talking about help their lives to flourish?
The last morning was spent looking at ABCD Europe itself:
At the Sitges meeting, ( January 2014), we said we wanted to:
After beginning to report back on the Action Groups that were set up in Sitges the group wanted to focus on further relationship building between those present and to look for core values that we thought we could all agree with?
Suggestions for a set of core values:-
The plan is to.......
So, between now and the next gathering we collect stories.
The sharing and the analysis of those stories becomes the main task of the next gathering and we come with at least one story each.
As a group of “curators” we will enjoy the stories, deconstruct them and uncover their meaning.
We will have a collection of short stories which - in essence - become the substance of our business case and our offer.
We have the invitation to hold the next gathering in Portugal.
Let's free ourselves so we can make it up as we go along, but remember that improvisation is built on strong foundations.
And, from Tom (Dewar)
“We are not interested in institutional reform..” We ARE interested in finding and expanding spaces for citizen action and in the kinds of disruptive innovations that make citizen action possible and effective.
Work of the kind we seek is already widespread, often in forms and places “right under our noses.” Our ABCD language and logic simply tries to name and describe what effective people and groups already know and do – often by another name, or using different language.
ABCD tries to lift up and promote values and practices that turn people into stronger and more self-aware producers and citizens and away from being mere consumers and clients. "
At the end of the workshop we renamed ourselves the humble curators!
Marc, Martin and Tom - October 2014.
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