I can't remember whether I've mentioned it here, but I've just started working with Dan Thompson and Sophie Collard on a project that initially was called #futurecleanup – here they are talking about it.
Since then we chose to rename the project #wewillgather to make it clear that it wasn't just about cleaning up, we want to help people organise useful stuff in their communities whether it has to do with cleaning things or just getting together to do anything positive.
So we receive funding from NESTA's Innovation in Giving fund and Sophie and I attended a meeting yesterday with other recipients of the fund to make connections an help NESTA collect some information on progress. I thought they got the balance just right. All the activities involved us interacting with each other in some way and so we were finding out about other projects and recording it to be collated by the NESTA team.
We met Alice Casey who's going to be our key contact for now – I knew I'd seen her before somewhere and confirmed that she'd been to Tuttle ages ago. So I encouraged her to come again! (and she did…)
We're at a different stage of development from most other projects in the room. We don't have a site that we can talk to people about in detail or measures of participation yet. We do have a damned good origin story and a growing list of people and organisations who are interested in supporting us and using the site once it's open for testing.
So it was great to be in the company of other people who are a little bit further down the road. Sophie and I spent our time in the biggest exercise interviewing and being interviewed by Patricia Mahon of Spice who do time-credits (a piece of paper that people receive for doing an hour of something useful in their community and can "spend" it in time they'd otherwise have to pay for eg an hour at a local swimming pool) and Wingham Rowan who works for Slivers of Time, which has a platform for creating markets in unused time, both for public services and the private sector. It was a really useful exercise in fact- and insight-finding and hellped me a lot to get a grip on where we are actually at and what needs doing next.
The last exercise involved sharing some of our milestones so that we could map out across all the projects what was going to be happening over the next few months. In what is becoming #wewillgather house policy improv style (you say it, I write it down, it's policy until we change our minds) I wrote a card that I may later regret saying "Make media wet their pants". If you know any incontinent journos you know where to send them, come August.
Overall I came away feeling a lot better about what we're doing – it really helped to be explaining it in a context other than persuading people that using it would be a good thing. I was encouraged and stimulated by Patricia and Wingham's questions and feedback. So much so that I was able to write this, my first post for the project within hours of attending (even if it then did take another 96 hours to publish it).
PS I really like the look of ProjectDirt's forthcoming roadtrip. I may have to be restrained to keep my attention on our project not theirs. Of course #wewillgather willl be doing our roadtrips by train. We're definitely train people.