Last week. Last week, last week, last week. What did we do? Oh yes, an absolute tonne of work. Just how we like it. And it makes for an excellent place to start.
Monday was pretty much the only free day that we had for the entirety of the week. That meant we had to work on our presentation fo Smart Transport that is taking place this coming Wednesday (18th September). Engaging citizens in the future of mobility is important to us, and we want to use this presentation as a rallying cry to those talking a good game about people in future mobility, but not actually doing it. It is heavily influenced by our discussion paper on just this subject, and we hope to get the chance to talk to you about it.
On Tuesday we spent a day in that there London, and for a couple of good reasons. In the morning, we had a wonderful chat with David Simoes-Brown from 100% Open. If you do not know them already, you must get to know them. We went to them with a simple ask - what is the experience of openly innovating in a way that benefits society, and is also financially sustainable? We ask ourselves this all the time, so the chance to discuss this with an expert in the field was not to be missed.
Needless to say that our conversation did not stay on this for long. Politics, transport, holidays in Devon, and everything in between. Perhaps that is how an exploratory chat should be? What do you think?
Then in the evening, we had the pleasure of going to our very first Democracy Drinks organised by Involve, just across the road from the Department for Transport. What can we say apart from A-MA-ZING? The event format was simple - if you are interested in democracy, turn up and have a drink, with one or two talks to boot. We met so many amazing people - civil servants, activists, international non-profits, and volunteers who had set up their own website to encourage young people to vote. All wanting one thing in particular - to improve democractic discourse.
We left the event with our minds buzzing. How could we partner with people to magnify the impact of our work? Are participation challenges that we have in transport unique to it? And if not, what can we learn? So many brilliant questions. No time to answer them yet.
The following day, we had a long trek down to Bristol to be part of a panel discussing transport in the city. It was an extremely distinguised panel, chaired by Professor John Parkin of UWE, and it had all manner of panelists. Adam Crowther of Bristol City Council, James Durie of Business West, James Freeman of First West of England, James Lancaster of Enterprise Holdings, Malcolm Parsons of Network Rail, Sara Sloman of North East Somerset Council, and others who we have now forgotten. And us of course.
What interested us the most about the debate what the intricacies that make Bristol unique as a transport challenge. There is a rich seam of community engagement in transport in Bristol that it could leverage to tackle the transport issues that it has in common with other cities. I mean, which city doesn't have a congestion problem right? But the local intricacies matter when it comes to talking to people about the issues that they face.
My one issue with the event is that we barely scratched the surface. Everyone said their piece, there was 10 minutes of chat, and that was it. Hopefully the debate will continue afterwards.
Thursday and Friday were taken up with one thing - interviews. We aren't hiring, no. But we were talking to a lot of local authority people about their experiences on community engagement. 7 interviews in all over the 2 days. That was a lot of speaking, a lot of writing, and a lot of listening. At 5pm, our brain no work so good, so the after-work drink was very much welcomed.
As for what was said...we can't share that yet, sorry.