We Live Here is a project to design a new way of connecting public services, individuals and community groups, blending offline and online technologies. It’s testing ways of building shared online environments that allow whole-community discussions to flourish without making people leave the online and offline places where they feel comfortable.
What is it trying to achieve?
Our aim is to use technology and new networking tools to give individuals and community groups new opportunities to volunteer, participate in their community and take part in political decisions.
Why do this now?
New technology and new social attitudes are creating an opportunity for community action to reach more people, and routes for public services and citizens to have better and more productive conversations.
We think that we need – in Brighton & Hove but elsewhere too – a system for participation, governance and community action that is guided by a set of clear democratic principles, delivers through low-cost light-touch online routes where possible, and is flexible enough to work differently as different areas require.
What problems is it trying to solve?
We Live Here is trying to create new forms of civic action and discussion to reduce the feeling of disconnection that people have with politics, to make voluntary and community outreach more cost-effective, and to be an example of a new way of managing public service engagement and governance.
What does success look like?
We Live Here is trying to make a measurable difference to:
- The number of people who feel they can influence decisions in their locality
- The reach of voluntary organisations and community groups, measured by number of contacts they’ve had with people in their area
- The strength and interconnectedness of networks in the areas in which it operates
We hope that as a result of that, public services will become more efficient and more responsive – but that’s something we can’t control.
Who’s behind it?
The project started as a Creative Councils development project, with the early stage of thinking funded by the national innovation funding charity NESTA. The project was part of their Creative Councils programme until April.
What is its relationship to current projects?
We want to connect existing work, but we aren’t looking to replace existing programmes and projects. We’re in a development phase, so we’re looking to work with local organisations to help us design the first version of our approach.
Where is it happening?
It’s happening in two geographical communities (Hangleton and Knoll, and Brunswick), and in one city-wide community of interest, the Black and Minority Ethnic Community.
How can I get involved?
We’re glad to hear from anyone, but particularly interested in speaking to those involved with a community or voluntary sector organisation, or public service, working with one of our communities.
This is our project blog, and all the partner organisations are on Twitter and Facebook. If you need to get in touch, you can speak to Susie Latta, the project manager, on 01273 782178 or Susie@demsoc.org