Community Activists Network
It was fantastic to have the opportunity to be part of the NatCAN gathering in Preston on Thursday, thanks to all those who made it happen. I've been reading posts by Mark Parker and Nick Beddow which reflect on discussions at the conference and on how activists can support each other. Since getting involved in discussions online through networks like NatCAN, twitter and blogs I've been fascinated and constantly amazed at the ways that connecting online promote and support face-to-face interaction, and face-to-face interaction is more likely to lead to ongoing connection and discussion if those involved connect online afterwards. It's fairly clear to me that they do more than complement each other, the online and face-to-face interactions feed and nurture each other.
I don't know how many NatCAN members or visitors know about Social Media Surgeries, but I think these are amazing spaces for activists to come together face-to-face while sharing and learning how to connect to others online. A social media surgery is an informal gathering of people who want to learn how to use the web to communicate, campaign or collaborate. Surgeries are deliberately relaxed. No presentations, no jargon, noone telling people what they think they should know. If you can blag a room or cafe with wifi and find a few folk who know a little (or a lot) about blogs, twitter, Facebook etc. you can start your own surgery, with support from the Social Media Surgery + website.
Social Media Surgeries have just won a Big Society Award, but don't hold that again them - they started way before the Coalition Government were something that citizens in this country could have imagined in their worst nightmares. What I just love is that Social Media Surgeries are spreading around the world, thanks to John Popham for sharing this link about surgeries in New Delhi which totally inspired me.
One of the greatest things about running or helping at a surgery is the face-to-face connections and support, meeting people and community groups you just didn't know were out there. I volunteer at a Birmingham surgery, and have met the most amazing activists and volunteers doing things from supporting asylum seekers to conserving buildings.
Just a thought, as a way for community activists to get support, why not go along to your nearest surgery, or set one up?
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