The Creative Citizens’ Variety Pack is a beautifully designed and curated collection of stories about ways which 12 very different community projects have made use of digital tools to help and support people and make a difference in their corner of the world. Reading through the pack gave me lots of ideas, and introduced me to some new digital tools which I’m starting to make use of.
The whole pack is available to download for free in a pdf book format here, which is wonderful but doesn’t do justice to the hard copy pack. I was generously sent three copies of the printed pack by Dan Lockton from the Creative Citizens project and so will pass two on to Digital Dudley readers – see below for more on that.
But first here’s an overview of the pack and some highlights from me.
I love the description of creative citizens in the welcome section:
What do we mean by ‘creative citizens’?
Everyday millions of people do something creative, from knitting and genealogy to photography and choirs, sometimes organised in community groups and networks, sometimes not. The crossover into ‘citizenship’ begins when there is a social, political or civic element to the creative work.
The welcome pages also explain that in terms of ‘digital tools’ the authors have included all sorts from well-known and used social networking platforms (Facebook, Twitter etc.) to one off creative technology projects. The pack is then divided in to four sections, with case studies in each.
The first section is about Supporting Each Other Locally – ways that digital media has been used to bring people with something in common together, connecting and supporting each other in their local area. The Tidworth Mums case study is a brilliant example of how a Facebook Group can be used to great effect, and the What Others Can Learn section on the fourth page may be useful to groups in Dudley thinking of using, or already using Facebook’s Groups function. The Allsorts youth engagement project offers some really helpful advice at the end of the case study:
Be prepared to change setup. The way people use social media and the sites they prefer to use change all the time, and with young people they can change quite fast. Don’t invest in too rigorous a structure as you may find you have to change, or even abandon them.
The Cannock Connect newspaper pilot story was particularly interesting to me, as I work with residents in Coseley who produce their own newsletter, and I’m working on a newspaper in relation to work I’m doing in Wrens Nest. In the ‘digital tools used’ sidebar in the case study the newspaperclub.com was listed, which was really helpful to know about and I’ll be using in the next week!
The second section of the pack includes two case studies around Telling Stories – using digital tools to help people’s voices to be heard locally and beyond. The Story Machine is a beautiful idea and would be simple to develop or adapt in all sorts of settings. The Digital Commonwealth project used the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games as an opportunity to encourage all sorts of stories to be shared, not only those which mainstream media focuses on. The thinking behind the ways the project encouraged use of digital tools really resonated with me from workshops I’ve taken part in around social reporting:
Use what’s in your pocket. Digital Commonwealth encouraged people to use familiar technology to shift from media consumption to production, rather than learning specific tools that later become obsolete. Participants often use Facebook and YouTube socially or personally, but workshops showed people how they can contribute to online conversations by capturing existing, but often unheard, narratives. Once participants felt confident using their own mobile devices for producing as well as consuming stories, the Digital Commonwealth project encouraged them to apply this beyond the Commonwealth Games.
I’ll blog about the final sections of the pack in the next few days, as that feels a lot already!
Get your hands on a lovely copy of the pack