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David Wilcox

Let’s talk about #goodforlondon to make sense of civil society, a networked city and #thewayahead

3 min read

Signups are going well for our event tomorrow about London as a networked and neighbourly city, creating a Living Lab to help reframe civil society, using tech to support social action.

It’s about all of those things, and I suspect each idea resonates with different interests. I think that’s a problem, and we need an idea and a tag everyone can understand. How about ?

Behind the rather abstract terms I’ve been using so far in these posts is the idea that we need to rethink how people and organisations doing good cooperate and collaborate in the networked age, where the Internet is changing so much about the way we lead our lives, and the relationships, interests and activities we can develop.

The exploration we are launching tomorrow, with the London Council for Voluntary Action, aims to complement a much bigger exercise by London funders, LVSC and Greater London Volunteering.

That initiative, called The Way Ahead, was prompted in part by the fact that traditional ways of doing good through charities, voluntary organisations and community groups face funding cuts by public bodies, who now focus on contracting.

In addition the future of organisations like LVSC and GVA is in doubt. Fresh thinking is needed on the way that the whole system operates, from individual citizens working with others to improve neighbourhoods and support each other, to borough-level councils for voluntary service, and London-wide networks of interests and support.

The Way Ahead report calls the system “civil society infrastructure”, and I’ve picked up the term as well. I’ve found it fine for professionals in the field, but that it doesn’t engage people’s interest more widely.

The one idea people can relate to is doing social good. That may be volunteering, mutual support, getting together around causes and local problems - ideally while having some fun and making new connections.

Social good may also be companies operating ethically, councils designing services with citizens - and of course the many existing groups and organisations in the community and voluntary sectors, and social enterprises. But not just them.

So how about “social good” … and doing things that are good in London, and good for London.