Citizens UK has been invited by Mark Warren, a great community organiser in the United States to participate in a conference hosted at Harvard University about Community Organising in Schools.
Carla, from Ark Academy, Sebastien Chapleau and myself are going to lead a team of 10 other leaders from London Citizens to go to Harvard and present our work at the Conference. It’s an incredible opportunity to showcase the pioneering work we are doing with Community Organising and schools in London. We are also going to be able to learn from the American organisers and leaders who have been doing this much longer than us.
Our team for the Conference in March will be a combination of teachers, educationalists, 6th form students, a head teacher and organisers. We are meeting next week to prepare our Conference presentation.
The trip will also be an opportunity for London Citizens leaders to meet with our sister organisation, GBIO (Greater Boston Interfaith Organisation). We are going to be hosted by leaders at GBIO to learn from their experiences and to share the work we have been doing in London. Sebastian, who is taking a lead in organising the trip, has also lined up a number of opportunities for us to visit other schools in Boston to hear from them about how the educate people from deprived backgrounds and the campaigns they have been involved in to improve their local communities.
It’s an incredibly exciting opportunity and great recognition of the work we are doing to develop a model of community organising in schools.
"The Community Organizing and School Reform Conference will bring community organizers, education researchers, youth, educators, funders and other stakeholders together to discuss the contributions of community organizing to school improvement and equitable education policy. The conference will provide an opportunity to discuss the role of community organizing in the current policy context, learn about new research and practice in the field, build relationships within and across stakeholder groups, and build capacity to advance the work of community organizing and school reform." http://matchondrygrass.org/the-conference
The Ark Academy team has been back out on the streets today, identifying the local litter problems. It’s a great campaign because we can tie it into the work of Crest Academy and it encourages some cross-Brent relationship building and shared action.
The students, after some planning and training sessions, have been out and about today to photograph the litter in and around their school after event days at Wembley Stadium. They have also been speaking to the public about their experience of the cleanliness of Wembley before/after Wembley Stadium games and already more than 30 people have signed up to support our campaign.
Next week, the team is going to spend the session evaluating their evidence and if they decide the evidence supports their experience that Wembley is not properly cleaned after event days then we are going to design a plan to get a meeting with Veolia, who are the litter company contracted by Brent Council and Wembley Stadium, to discuss how we can improve the current situation.
Challenge Prize: A Brighter Future for Brent
We have now launched the NESTA Challenge Prize. This is your chance to come up with new, creative ideas to tackle local issues and to secure a brighter future for the borough of Brent.
Community groups working with North London Citizens in Brent identified their top three priorities for change after listening to nearly 1000 people between March and September 2011. The Challenge Prize is an opportunity for organisations to come up with innovative solutions, projects and ideas to address the following three issues in Brent:
· Opportunities for Young People
· Safer streets and transport
· Building community relationships & respect
The Challenge Prize is focused on getting new ideas and new people to be part of North London Citizens and to create inventive but practical ideas that will tackle the key issues affecting communities in Brent.
The Challenge Prize is up to £20,000 and will either be awarded to one winner or shared between multiple winners to implement their plan for change. So get creative!
A small panel including community organising experts have agreed to judge the competition and will be using these questions to identify the winner or winners:
1. How does the proposal practically tackle one or more of the above issues
2. How does the proposal develop a team of people who will take leadership in their community?
3. How does the proposal build new relationships in the community?
4. How does the proposal use new ideas or methods?
The deadline is March 1st 2012. If you want more information click here
Good luck everyone – can’t wait to see your ideas.
I have had lots of great meeting with the Crest Academy team who are really taken action seriously. Students standing up and taking charge of their own neighbourhoods is a really important way for them to develop their leadership skills and their sense of ownership for the streets in their community.
At Crest Academy we have been preparing for two actions. Firstly, I have been working with Paolina and Laura, staff at Crest Academy to host a ‘Make Time for Tea’ event. We agreed it would be themed around the amazing diversity of the Neasden community in Brent.
We are going to have lots of different tables representing the different world cultures, offer people tea and food, and then theme each table around a key question to ensure lively conversation. Students will host each table so they get a chance to develop their skills of facilitation and leadership. And, perhaps most excitingly for me, we are going to have a London Citizens table to get people talking about how we make change in the community. It will be a chance to promote the hard work of students and local institutions trying to make a difference in Brent and hopefully we can use it to promote more involved from local residents.
It’s going to be a great community afternoon where we invite parents, local residents, police officers and the local councillors. Our aim is to build relationships in the community and promote respect as well as raising money for cancer. We have agreed on April 17th for the big action and now the students, who will be hosting the community members, need to start getting organised with their invitations.
The other action we are planning is through the Youth Forum group in the Crest Girls Academy. It’s been lots of careful planning to organise our Crest Academy ‘Litter Pick’ in Neasden. The date is set for March 6th so now the students are getting prepared by organising the students (we are aiming for 45), mapping our route, getting the equipment – the bin bags, the litter-pickers and the protective gloves, and I’m going to provide the North London Citizens t-shirts and leaflets- can’t wait!
Here is a video of Gordon Brown speaking at the Citizens UK General Election Assembly