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

 

Tuttle101 Monday 6th June 2011
@TheDeafCat in Rochester, Kent

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Any questions, please email: tuttle [at] fellow.ventures

Tuttle101 @TheDeafCat 6th June 20

 

Tuttle101 at The Deaf Cat Coffee Bar (Rochester, Kent)
Photo: Tuttle101 at @TheDeafCat Coffee Bar (Rochester)
Original photo taken and licensed by @fellowcreative

Tuttle101 & Tipple101
April/May 2011 in Rochester Kent

19/04/2011 Update: Nibble101 is at Cosmo Oriental Restaurant at 7:30pm on Tuesday 26th April. The next Tuttle will be at 9:30am Monday 9th May at The Deaf Cat Coffee Bar – click here for more details

For more information see ProjectEncounter.co.uk/about/ or Tuttle101

I have an idea, any thoughts folks?
Tuttle, the facilitation of Participation and Community

Not wishing to reinvent the wheel nor plagiarise great works, I’ve quoted, paraphrased and joined dots between the somewhat ‘perfectly phrased’ words and sentences of inspirational authors and doers, these include:
Sir Ken Robinson (The Element – how finding your passion changes everything), Andrew Mawson OBE (The Social Entrepreneur), Ori Brafman and Rod A. Beckstrom (The Starfish and the Spider – the unstoppable power of leaderless organizations) and Lloyd Davis (Founder of Tuttle Club London) – to present my thoughts and experiences of Tuttle, the facilitation of Participation and Community 101, and what the future might hold.


Tuttle101 at The Deaf Cat Coffee Bar (Rochester, Kent)
Photo: Tuttle101 at @TheDeafCat Coffee Bar (Rochester)
Original photo taken and licensed by @fellowcreative

 


Tuttle isn’t for everyone but it is for anyone.

A loose collection of people finding a way of working better together (both offline and on).
Focused on Inspiration, Collaboration and Learning Through Doing.

Tuttle is about social interaction, a meeting of diverse minds and life experiences over coffee, conversation and getting one’s hands dirty in collaboration. At all times it should be fun and engaging – you’re not an attendee, you’re a participant. People show up without preconceptions over what will happen, be talked about or done. Anything can happen, and the environments and spaces change. It’s a philosophy rather than a collective noun. You Tuttle, rather than are part of Tuttle.

Tuttle challenges stereotypical structures and traditional mindsets. Tuttle understands that imagination is not the same as creativity. Creativity takes the process of imagination to another level. Creativity goes beyond linear and logical thought to involve all areas of our minds and bodies. People (you) can be creative at anything at all – anything that involves intelligence. It is because human intelligence is so wonderfully diverse that people are creative in so many extraordinary ways… writing, music, dance, theatre, math, science, computing, philosophy, business etc. Tuttle doesn’t ask how intelligent you are; it helps you explore: How are you intelligent?

Creative insights often come in non-linear ways, through seeing connections and similarities between things we hadn’t noticed before.

Tuttle provides people with an open platform to be social, build understandings and connect, it’s a neutral space to discuss and do. When you give participants freedom, you get chaos, but you also get incredible creativity. On one hand people have freedom to do what they want, on the other they develop a sense of social ownership and added responsibility – everyone becomes an active participant and guardian of sorts – the concept of ‘community’ takes on more meaning, empowering a better understanding of ‘neighbour’. For this reason participants often wish to give something back.

Tuttle can be a goad, a check, a sounding board, and a source of inspiration and support.

Overlapping circles of people with similar interests who create something much greater than any of them could create individually – to become more than the sum of their parts.

There’s no hierarchy, membership, name badges or even business cards. Simply come along, be open-minded and if nothing else enjoy the atmosphere. Over time you’ll form trusted, valued and inspiring relationships – you get out what you put in.

Tuttle101 is the Tuttle Community of Medway (Kent), running since September 2009, normally on the second Monday morning of every month, often in The Deaf Cat Coffee Bar (Rochester, Kent). An evening Tipple101 also happens mid-week nearer the end of the month, it usually involves beer or wine.

If you’d like more information on the above, please feel free to email tuttle101 [at] fellow.ventures. Please read below for more exciting developments.


101 Projects – The Outline Manifesto

 

The next step for Tuttle101 is the creation of ‘101 Projects‘.

101 Projects will provide a more focused approach towards local innovation and greater community cohesion, focused on solving real problems. The people of Medway often talk about their rights but rarely about their responsibilities as citizens. The local community is suffering as a consequence. 101 Projects aim to empower participants to develop a range of not-for-loss collaborative ventures that inspire a stronger and wider sense of community. Through applying business, cross-disciplinary experience and creative logic to social questions, and challenging existing concepts of personal responsibility, positive impact and social value.

“It is at this present time little more than a collection of people and facts, the cause of which, and their relationships to each other, are so imperfectly understood, that it is not yet very capable of synthetic and analytic modes of explanation.” ~ The Lunar Men.

Similar to the Tuttle philosophy, 101 Projects hope to inspire anyone, to help everyone.

Existing Tuttle participants seem to share a fundamental optimism, a spirit of liberty in action, encouragement and enlightenment – where many people would see problems, they see opportunities for positive change, and they wish to take on the personal responsibility for making things happen.

“If I were the minister responsible for enterprise, I would identify fifteen people who have shown that they can deliver results in practice. I would imagine they would all be pretty challenging people – the John Birds, Bob Geldofs and Alan Sugars of this world. I would invite them to sit down with me in a room and tell them I was giving each of them £3 million to invest in working in a particular poor, deprived area. One year later I would invite them back into the room. Those who had messed up would get no more money; those who showed promise would get another £3million; and those who had done really well would get £10 million. In other words I would back success and build upon what actually works.
I would for the most part keep civil servants and academics at a distance and I would certainly ensure that no more than 5per cent of what monies we had available went towards evaluation. However, I would not for one moment underestimate the importance of evaluation.
To that end I would choose another group of successful entrepreneurs and business people to carry out research in how projects were performing by using all of the available technology and by trusting them to use the best methodology for their purpose. I would want to see very practical results being delivered and I would want local people to be involved in the process. Entrepreneurs smell success: they do not write reports about it.”
~ The Social Entrepreneur, Andrew Mawson OBE, Pg. 139

101 Projects will encourage people by supporting individuals not structures, those who bring to social problems the same enterprise and imagination that business entrepreneurs bring to wealth creation – people that have it in themselves to be community leaders, to help restore our connections to people, places and values – human relationships and community cohesion.

101 Projects aim to inspire cross-discipline, cross-cultural relationships built around people ‘doing’ things together. Rewarding those who bother to get off their backsides to work together on practical projects. Government often knows the shape of the forest but has no idea what is actually going on under the trees. If the current economic environment is to be overcome, governments, organisations and structures must become more ‘people friendly’, more responsive, turning peoples passions and responsibilities into effective and constructive action at a local level. Encouraging greater local participation within society is the answer to both our democratic and economic deficit.

Medway is full of glorious diversity; stimulating greater participation will create a wealth of opportunity in the local economy. The emphasis must be on access to opportunity, on recognizing individuals and their passions and talents and on developing these by bridging together teams of local people focused on identifiable tasks, rather than relying on representative structures and local authorities.

Tuttle Projects provide a non-hierarchical incubator of potential for creative, destructive, innovative ideas for social good. Anything goes. Good ideas will attract more people, which in turn will inspire an appreciation of their full potential. What initially looks like entropy might just turn out to be one of the most powerful and positive forces in the local economy. Turning passion into practice may take many forms. Social capital can only be created for many when we grow a strong and honest sense of belonging and community, focused around a shared practical task.

Supported by Tuttle participants, Tuttle Projects aim to back successes with time, energy and hopefully small financial investments, to build upon what actually works at a local level, to create social value. With an emphasis on discovery not theory, Tuttle Projects don’t know failure – only learning opportunities. By the community, for the community.

At the heart of social entrepreneurship sits the aspiration and ability to come up with creative ways of raising standards, challenging beliefs (about ourselves and others), changing attitudes, lifestyles and, eventually, changing lives – for the better.

Tuttle participants aren’t necessarily philanthropists or representatives of charities; many are budding social entrepreneurs (local people of Medway) hoping to connect the logic of business to social need. Breaking patterns of failure, raising expectations and in doing so build cross-cultural relationships around people actively ‘doing’ things together.

Ideology is the fuel that drives the decentralised systems of innovation and creativity.

Social Entrepreneurs have discovered that business principles have a considerable amount to offer them. They like business because businesses operate in the real world. The public and charitable sectors often don’t have to operate in this ‘real’ environment – they often stay safely removed, preferring to engage more with theory than practical reality, locked into reams of paperwork and a grant-dependent culture. The same can be said for many whom exist within the traditional ‘creative’ sphere.

Social entrepreneurs have recognised, however, that new ideas generally emerge from the creative process that occurs when people from different backgrounds and different approaches engage effectively with each other. Difference and diversity, not conformity and equality, are the fertile soil of social change, the seedbed of new ways of working.

Tuttle Projects aim to work beyond a grant-dependant culture, towards a more participatory and sustainable model of public service, which has innovation, customer service and community at its core.


How might it be structured and done?

Medway is a multicultural community, where over __ languages and dialects are spoken, a place full of glorious diversity – admitting the world is fundamentally unfair and unequal is ironically the first step to stimulating greater participation, a widening of opportunity for all and an increase in wealth creation in disadvantaged communities (a wealth of opportunity in a local economy). The emphasis must be on access to opportunity, on recognizing individuals and their passions and talents and on developing these by bridging together teams of local people focused on identifiable tasks, rather than relying on representative structures, government or local authorities. Turning passion into practice may take many forms. Social capital can only be created for many when we grow a strong and honest sense of belonging and community, focused around a shared practical task.

The Tuttle community will develop a list of potential 101 Projects

All projects must embrace a practical approach based around ‘learning by doing’ and encouraging people to ‘get their hands dirty’, and remain sceptical about a culture that makes few demands on the individual (and personal responsibility) and is dominated by policy papers and academic theory – precisely the world that underpins much of the current way of ‘doing government’, and a methodology that has been found to be far from effective the world over.

“The government (and citizens) should put less blind faith in system and process, but offer us more opportunities to take more personal responsibility for social issues. I would like to see a serious overhaul of the Civic service and its prevailing culture, which infects every bit of the public sector and so often undermines real change. I believe it is individuals who can change the world (some of whom are in the civil service – I have met them) and that the key lies in identifying these change-makers and supporting them wholeheartedly. It is people who make all the difference and I worry that so many policy papers fail to even mention them.”
~Andrew Mawson OBE

Tuttle Projects recognise that delivering real change is a risky business and all governments struggle with it. Unless governments take the long view, and withdraw and provide genuine space for social entrepreneurs to operate – and yes, at times fail – real change will never happen.

“If you are from a secure family and a well-educated background, with a bit of money, a bit of self-esteem and some contacts, you are lucky. In an area like Bromley-by-Bow, nearly everything is run by the state – housing, health, the money in your pocket, whether your children live with you or not. Nearly everything requires a form from somewhere or other to be filled in, signed, stamped, considered, responded to… The contrast between that kind of an experience of life – which believe me, can feel frustrating and actively discouraging – and someone simply saying. ‘Sure, go ahead, when can you start and how can we help?’, without forms or systems or anything else, just a person talking face to face with another person, is not to be under-estimated.”
~Andrew Mawson OBE

101 Projects will encourage the words ‘Sure, go ahead.’

 

101 Projects will only support collaborations between people with cross-disciplines – No more than 12 people, no less than 2. Projects might include:

 

Demo a self-sustaining-notforloss Creative Coworking Space (design, technology, social-participation)
Supporting OnMeJack/MadeLabs with an #Emptyshops initiative
Supporting MedwayEyes and MedwayBroadSide and Creatabot
LightVessel21 Volunteering
BarCampKent and BarCampCanterbury
Supporting @DavidBahia’s Medway #Jelly
DockyardGraffiti (http://lasersurvey.co.uk)+ National Heritage, site of historical relevance…
Workshop activity/series such as (BrightonBuild)
Media Tree and Kent’s Creative Business Economy
Develop a hyperLocal news plugin
Sounding Board / Focus Group for Public & Local Services
Support wider Kent initiatives such as Canterbury Geeks / Digibury
etc.

More information at: http://coFWD.org