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Event Reflection: Spring into Action with Footwork

What would the world look like if local social innovators had all the resources they needed?

This was the big question we explored at our second Footorking event. Joined by a rich mix of Footwork friends and new faces we took a deep dive into the world of local social innovation and shared insights, experiences, and our own visions of what places could look like if community-led action was fully resourced.

Following our popular ‘Footworking event’ format, we kicked off the evening by inviting five innovators to speak, briefly. With activities spanning policy to grassroots action, each speaker brought a unique perspective and inspiring vision of a world that better supports local social innovation. Here’s what they had to say:

What would the world look like if we had all the resources? It would be a world with a just, equitable society, where each of us feel that our voice is meaningful, (...) it would look like freedom to act and to have power to do it. - Juliet Can

Interfacing with a hostile environment on a daily basis really takes it out of your body and soul. So we would have the funds for supervision and therapy for staff as well as all the young people. We’d have a multidisciplinary therapy team where we can really hold and deal with the complex trauma that we are seeing all the time (...) and very importantly, not just work reactively. So actually recognising the systemic issues and causes that keep bringing young people to us and campaigning to fight those in a preventative way rather than a case by case plaster. - Mona Bani

The systems & institutions which underwrite our lives need healing. I believe local social innovators can diagnose and remedy those collective ills. As they say, reputation & trust is something you lose in buckets, but gain back in drops. Create effective boundary conditions for social innovators locally to flourish, & watch our polity begin to heal & our cup never lose another drop. - Patrick Scally

The only reason they are not able to thrive in this city is because we haven’t solved these thorny issues which include very much a power sharing proposition where we not only ask communities what they want, but we have all the mechanisms in place for them to have power to deliver what they need. - Raja Moussaoui

What do we want as a community? We want the same amount of time that the council and everyone else gives to developers to buy land or to buy buildings. We want the same level of communication to talk to officers, developers and to realise our dreams. We want the same equity, so that we reach a point of legacy. - Nicholas Okwulu

Whether they were speaking about personal experiences or more broadly about how the system and the ‘powers that be’ can do a better job in serving their communities, our speakers were not afraid to dream big. What links them together is this idea around having the power to act.

As Eileen Conn so wonderfully put it at the end of the night, the ‘power to act’ has been missing from previous conversations. We saw the power of communities and how they act on that power so strongly during covid, and that power continues today, we just need to better harness it.

Another key takeaway shared broadly across the room was the importance of collaboration – finding and working with like-minded people and coming together to support each other in working towards a shared goal. We will leave you with this reflection, as this is what it is all about:

What a fantastic event (...) [it] was one of the richest mix of cross-sector clever and compassionate people from the community space I’ve ever had the pleasure of sharing conversations with - Dieter Kleiner, RCKa


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