Writing to reach likeminds
and doers across Swale and Medway

Hello,

To the awesome people I’m yet to meet across Swale and Medway.
I’d like to introduce myself if I may please.
I’m Carl.

I’m better at doing stuff than I am explaining why it works.
I’m a social hacker – I connect the dots between people, and wire them up.
I deliver ideas by example – I lead and do, with passion, and purpose.
And I want to meet like-minds; to make the places you and I live, better.


But talk can be cheap, and I believe we’re defined by our actions:

In 2008 I began reimagining where I live and work (Medway).
In 2009 I wrote a vision for the future and some people responded.
I lead with personal accountability and civic responsibility.
I continue to challenge and question Kent’s Creative Economy.

In 2011, we (an ever-developing community) cofounded coFWD coworking community and participatory space.

Developed upon Tuttle101, coFWD started small. Now eleven months into our larger building move, we’re 49% financially sustainable (still a long-way to go to before we can be declared an overall success), but our community impact has been and continues to be considerable.

 

Ok. So why reach out in 2012?

Well, during early 2012 I engaged in an Arts Council conversation about a new kind of funding opportunity – through supporting and developing connections to public places, grass-roots individuals and community activities, the Arts Council aimed to engage everyday-people in ‘the arts’.

A great deal of probono time and effort later, I’m proud to say that I’m part of the team responsible for securing a £1.4m investment into Swale and Medway, to be delivered over the next three years. Sadly no funds will be available until at least February 2013 whilst we dot the i’s and cross the t’s with the Arts Council team but more news will be announced shortly.

Please do sign up to the mailing-list at CreativePeoplePlace.info

I’ve acquired a track record for identifying and investing in the right people – often people already doing great things but under the radar – and I’ve put my own money where my mouth is to do so. I got involved in the conversation, and this opportunity, to scale my approach and impact.

Given everything I’ve ever done, I feel it important to note that I’ve never been paid by public-sector or third-sector money. Its misuse and miss-allocation continues to frustrate me, as does red tape. I now find myself being asked to advise Medway Council, KCC and the Arts Council – to make the places you and I live, better.

I have little faith in ill researched media agendas, and nor do I run an arts organisation. I believe the economic climate is going to get far worse for arts, cultural, voluntary and public sector organisations, locally and nationally. And that this requires a real adjustment in the way public spending and funding works, and how it’s measured (vanity metrics don’t cut the mustard).

I come from a world of 21st Century enterprise methods and I believe that ‘innovation is creativity with a job to do’, and that this can inspire adaptive communities and responsive models of getting stuff done. I believe people have a civic responsibility towards their local communities, and I believe small actions can create true meaning and positive change for everyone – provided the right dots are connected and the emphasis is placed on discovery through doing, not theory.

I believe ‘art’ and ‘the arts’ can be a catalyst for change, but for it to be so requires a reimaging of how it’s done (and I’m certainly not alone).
I frame this reimaging as ‘the act and art of doing’ (and getting things done), together.

I understand that many arts purists believe ‘the arts’ should be done for arts sake with no requirement for measurable impact, and they will undoubtedly disagree with me. But when it comes to sustainable investment and cultural impact, and local peoples futures, I firmly believe that ‘art’, and ‘the arts’, can and should be used as a tool to connect people and inspire communities, and as a platform upon which to inspire not only dialogue and event attendance, but long-term action and meaningful participation.

Before we can engage people in ‘the arts’, we must first engage them in the conversation, preferably over coffee *~) If you’re a doer with a like-minded spirit for creative experimentation, please do take the time to say hello. I look forward to any comments.

Please do sign up to the mailing-list at CreativePeoplePlace.info

I look forward to meeting you.
Carl @FellowCreative


Proud to be part of
http://CreativePeoplePlace.info

Arts Council England today (9 August 2012) announced that a community consortium from Swale and Medway has been successful in applying for a commissioned grant from its Creative people and places programme – designed to empower communities to take the lead in shaping local arts provision.

Please do register your interest by visiting: http://CreativePeoplePlace.info

Swale and Medway is one of seven successful consortium applications across England that have been awarded a total of just under £16 million over three years, with Swale and Medway receiving £1,476,000.

The Creative people and places programme focuses on parts of the country where people’s involvement in the arts is significantly below the national average*.

Creative people and places takes a new approach by supporting communities and grass roots organisations to play a leading part in inspiring others to get involved with the arts.

The projects all employ innovative ideas for reaching new audiences. The Swale and Medway consortium comprises Swale Council for Voluntary Service and Volunteer Centre; Medway Council for Voluntary Service; Artlands North Kent; LV21; Kent Architecture Centre; Creek Creative Studios; FrancisKnight – project managers for Leysdown Rose-tinted ; and FellowCreative. The consortium will showcase and test new arts activities, support local people to develop their own creative ideas, help strengthen existing arts provision and celebrate what’s great about the arts. Three local authorities (Medway, Swale and Kent) will work with the consortium to develop the project. The consortium will be working with locally based arts and cultural partners to do this, including: Royal Opera House Bridge Organisation, South East Dance, and Kent County Council Libraries and Archives.

Carl Jeffrey, Founder of FellowCreative and a member of the Swale and Medway consortium, says: ‘We are thrilled to have the support of Arts Council England. This substantial investment will make a real difference to the communities of Swale and Medway. The long-term aim of our Creative People and Places vision is to enable a spirit of creative experimentation and the art of doing, together.

‘Initiated by an ever-developing network of small-scale, grass roots individuals and organisations, we hope that Swale and Medway become widely recognised as places where all forms of creativity can thrive; where communities directly benefit from the power of the arts to make positive changes in people’s lives; where new routes for engagement are opened up through testing out pioneering and experimental approaches.’

Sally Abbott, Regional Director, South East, Arts Council England, says: ‘We have a long history of working with artists and arts organisations in North Kent and we know that there is a real desire among people locally to get more involved in the arts and culture. We’re looking forward to seeing what ideas the community come up with to encourage more people to feel the benefit that taking part in the arts and culture can bring.’

Alan Davey, Chief Executive, Arts Council England said: ‘I’m excited by the possibilities of this programme and by the vision of the successful applicants.

‘All the projects have the potential to make a visible and lasting impact on the places where the work will happen and, very importantly, they all share the ambition to unite increased access with excellent art.

‘We’re looking forward to working with them to help them develop their ideas for creating and sharing great art for everyone – which is crucial to the vitality and long-term sustainability of the arts.’

The projects will be delivered by consortia and partners which include arts organisations, museums, libraries, local authorities and commercial organisations working in collaboration with the local community, grass roots organisations and the amateur sector.

The successful applicants will now receive a small percentage of their award in order to develop their plans. Receipt of the full award is dependent on the Arts Council approving each consortium’s full business plan. Round two of the programme will open to applications in September 2012.

The Creative people and places programme is one of a number of initiatives designed to help the Arts Council achieve its goal of more people experiencing and being inspired by the arts – as set out in Achieving great art for everyone, the Arts Council’s ten year strategic plan.

To contact the Consortium or to register your interest in the Swale and Medway project, please go to: http://CreativePeoplePlace.info

An Open Letter to Medway Council,
supporting The Deaf Cat, Rochester.

[Originally written on 11th April 2011. Today, directly submitted to Medway Council to support ‘change of use’ application Ref. MC/11/1478]

Dear Laura / Kevan [proprietors of The Deaf Cat]

Following the recent licensing issues and council interventions, I wish to make my feelings known on the subject of the Deaf Cat Coffee Bar – I hope this short note inspires you and your staff to stay motivated and positive in the face of the current hurdles, paperwork and autocracy.

In short, the Deaf Cat is much more than a Rochester coffee shop, it has become much greater than the sum of its parts and for the good of Rochester’s (and Medway’s) social ecosystem it is of paramount importance that this be recognised and supported by the council, not constrained.

I applaud what you have achieved in terms of a business, but more importantly I congratulate and thank you for the diverse community you have helped align, ignite and inspire. In a relatively short period of time you have achieved so much – well done! Through my ever-growing tuttle endeavours, community connections and public/council partnerships I will do what I can to help you build the necessary bridges with other creative groups, community initiatives, creative-freelancers/entrepreneurs and the local authorities.

From the standpoint of bureaucracy and autocracy (Eg. a quick glance over a piece of paper and a tick box aligned to a column marked ‘High Street Coffee Shop’) I understand how the Deaf Cat may appear at first to be a traditional High Street coffee house, but for those who care to look beyond the business name and brick building and its categorized business genre, a unique and thriving community of local catalysts can be found and will continue to grow. Sure the Deaf Cat serves good coffee but to most of the people who use it regularly the coffee is not the reason to frequent its welcoming space… its value cannot be realised in a cost-effective cuppa, its true value is in its community of active participants and true social-capital. Given Medway’s ‘Big Society’ agenda I can see no more valuable venture than The Deaf Cat.

What can be counted doesn’t always count. And from the standpoint of social capital, that which can’t be counted on paperwork or council forms, often counts.

Thank you. Positive thoughts,
Carl

Catalyst: http://fellow.ventures/tuttle101
Co-founder: http://coFWD.org

 

Dear Tuttle.101 Medway/Kent Community

Tuttle.101 at The Deaf Cat Coffee Bar (Rochester, Kent)

Photo: Tuttle.101 at The Deaf Cat Coffee Bar (Rochester)
Original photo taken and licensed by @fellowcreative

A few announcements/questions if I may please:

  1. Running since October 2009, with 7 monthly Tuttle’s now under our belt, and a host of community tweets and opinions about local government initiatives it appears that our enthusiastic community of conversation, connection and expertise is gaining some notice. Following recent conversations with Medway Council and some of our community’s attendance at Kent County Council’s recent TransformedByYou Event, we’ve been approached with an awesome question/opportunity and I’d love to hear your thoughts please…

    <Please note that I (Carl) have paraphrased the statement below from two emails>

    Hi Carl,

    Hope you’re keeping well? Wondered if you might have some thoughts on the following please:

    Medway Council would like to engage local (Medway or nearby) web and digital enthusiasts to get their feedback on our website re-development progress thus far. After going out to tender a few months ago, we’d really like the opportunity to talk about the evidence/knowledge we have of our web audience and explain what’s happening next in our project; including wireframe testing for key user journeys etc. We’re not sure how this would be received and wouldn’t want to be thought to be hi-jacking or taking over tuttle.101 but we’d love to engage in a way that fits with the community – whether that’s an existing tuttle.101 event or doing something specific for this purpose. Any thoughts please?

    ~ Simon Wakeman,
    Head of Communications and Marketing,
    Medway Council


  2. Due to the growing popularity and success’s of Tuttle.101 & Tipple.101 I’m pleased to say we’re currently fixing dates for May – the dates and venues are yet to be confirmed but a simple eNewsletter/MailChimp system is being designed to make it easier to stay Up-To-Date – please email: subscribe101@fellow.ventures with you’re details if you’d like the be added to the community mailing list.
  3. On behalf of all the Tuttle.101 April attendees I’d like to say a big thank you to Laura and Kevan at The Deaf Cat Coffee Bar for providing us with a venue at such short notice – the photo above shows just how great a venue it is and here’s a video to convey the musical ambiance – I’d also like to take this opportunity to say a big thank you to Natasha @NatashaSexton and James @BecomeKnown for organizing the April Events!
  4. There have been various discussions at Tuttle & Tipple of late in regards to the development of a Rochester co-working group and concepts relating to Floor101.org – with these in mind, and in support of Star Wars Day (May the 4th be with you!) and Dan Thompson’s #EmptyShops on Flickr initiative I’d like to announce the idea of a May bike-ride through Gillingham, Chatham, Rochester & Strood to take photos and geo-tag (map-out) all the EmptyShops on route – with the aim of creating a GoogleMashup along the lines of (example A) or (example B) for #EmptyShops in Medway. I’m currently thinking about doing this on Saturday 22nd May 2010 – who’s up for it? B