Sunday 19 April 2015

Changing the world: Be Brave * Be Truthful * Be Me

Crazy how a week can slip by so quick (read: how I don't seem to have time for anything at the moment). I started this last Sunday I think and haven't gotten to finishing it 'til a week later. Sigh. Ah well, seasons seasons seasons, right? Anyways...

Last week I went to the E-Campaigning Forum conference, held in Oxford. In Keble college to be precise. It was quite strange being back in Oxford, having lived there as a teenager, but with a crowd of people I didn't know and to realise I hardly know anyone who lives there now. It was also surreal to be served meals by staff in the grand college hall - having spent years working as a waitress in similar settings in colleges all over Oxford. Funny how life goes, hey?

I'd not been to the ECF conference before and didn't really know much about it. Other might define it differently, but from a newbie my understanding is that the ECF community includes campaigners, fundraisers, activists and organisers who are trying to bring about change in the world primarily through Digital means. Some are doing all of those things and others are experts in one particular area. There were people representing big and small NGOs and charities from all around the world. There were data scientists and hackers and film makers and people who work at Digital agencies (like me).

I met lots of passionate, inspiring people; listened in on lots of honest and interesting discussions about technology, innovation, ideas, and questions of how best to engage people in various issues and how to change things. There was a really positive and encouraging atmosphere which was awesome.

It made me think a lot.

Made me appreciate even more that we don't all need to be the same. You need people focussed on particular issues and people who can step back and see the bigger picture. You need people who have great ideas and people who make those ideas actually happen.

Made me think that you need passion and expertise in all sorts of areas in order to have an impact but that really what's very important is relationship and connection. Between those different areas and experts and information. Between campaigners and communicators and 'supporters' and people in positions of influence.

One session near the end was a little different to the others. It wasn't about analysing data, or optimising emails or the next big social tool. It was about sewing. Yep. We sat on the grass in the sunshine and wrote a message onto a foot and backstitched.

The session was led by Sarah Corbett who's all about something called Craftivism. IE making a difference via craft. Again it's about connection - between people e.g. through giving a handmade gift to someone to kick off a relationship that's about more than angry emails; about connection between your mind and your physical body and about creating time and space away from screens to meditate on what's really important. Connection with those you sit and create with.

We had to choose what we were going to sew onto our feet - a reminder of how we want to tread through the world. Here's mine:

Be brave. Because things worth fighting for are often hard and often take courage. I don’t want fear to ever be a reason not to act.

Be truthful. I mean with my whole life - so that how I live echoes what I say and vice versa. I guess another word is integrity. If I want to see change then I’ve got to live it out, especially with regards how I consume and how I give - my time, my money, my energy.

Be Me. I was going to write be the Best I can be - but there’s enough pressure around already. I also need to be OK with being myself, not trying to be the same as someone else, not comparing, or worrying about how I’m coming across. To be OK with not being perfect - that's why I left in the bit's where my sewing went 'wrong'. The best I can be is just being me. Perhaps I’m still figuring out what that looks like though...

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