This is a really quick reflection on really brilliant day at NotWestminster – in the tradition of the 10 things style – but not actually bothering to count how many things. I am also working on a write up from the session I ran.

Its been a while since I’ve connected with this community who are in so many ways my tribe. NotWestminster – in its 6th year – is a place where local democracy geeks get together and in the theme of kindness of generosity which was explicit this year but present all of the time get together to talk about how to make local place better. With democracy. And its own tea towel – what is not to love?

I met this crowd when I was doing my PhD and its always been a great place to introduce, test and explore ideas and this time was no different. Back then I was feeling my way towards the ideas which became my thesis. This time I am exploring the ideas which I hope will move towards a theory of change that helps knit together to the work we are doing at the Democratic Society but more than that helps all of us trying to make democracy better find a way to make our interventions count.

There is a real feeling in this community that we are having a bit of a democratic moment. Its driven in the UK by the trauma of the Brexit debate (however you feel about the result the process can be called traumatic) but now because of the acute need for us to get better at taking complicated decisions together in the face of the climate emergency.

The theme this year was big hearts and open minds and the event as ever epitomised this.

My mind was opened by a brilliant first workshop with Helen Graham on heritage and democracy – I think I may be working towards a full on intellectual crush here as we talked about how the stories of place can be used to shape discussions about the future via a debate about identity and recognition. So much in here to reflect on for our work on climate change and democracy that I can’t wait to discuss with Helen next time we meet!

Really enjoyed a session on digital and democracy which Ian Graham which was change to reconnect with this theme which has always been huge for me. Nick Booth and I were reflecting on the shift from our first go around with this debate in that we are now viewing social media with a responsible and reasonable skepticism.

And there is no-one better place to talk about kindness and generosity that Nick Booth and I am pleased to say also now quote Terry Pratchet.

I managed to catch up with old friends and make new ones at an event that manages consistently to be kind, energising and intellectually stimulating and even has its own playlist – well played NotWestminster – democracy is in very safe hands.

PS. am now wondering if the tea towel is a veiled Hitchhikers Guide reference……

Original source – Catherine Howe

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