Community Ideas Banks

Your Ideas Bank: A new way ahead for communal innovation

We delivered in two Phases between 2013-16 the Barry IdeasBank project – which has provided new insights and ways forward for tackling the crisis in Social Capital in our communities.

Local public services face the challenge of delivering more with less. Voluntary groups are overstretched. The way forward is to tap into the untapped potential of the wider community.

Here is a a copy of our report Final summary report Barry IdeasBank . A 52 page study report is also available on request.

We have a crisis in our society and the Barry IdeasBank shows new ways for creating more vibrant and thriving communities

Our society has a hidden crisis and we need to find new ways to do something about it.

We have a crisis in what’s called ‘Social Capital’. Fewer of us are getting involved in doing things, running things or just hanging around with each other – how we help each other to help each other, limiting our capacity to connect, co-operate and collaborate. It affects the very heartbeat of our communities.

There has always been a minority, possibly 15% of a community, around 1 in 7 people, who are community stalwarts who lead the way in doing things, making things happen for the greater good – like the people who run your local groups or activities as well as elected representatives. However, there’s less of them – and it’s getting worse. As a result, things we took for granted in our communities start to happen less and less, or not happen at all – and we are all poorer as a result.

The Barry IdeasBank, a project run by social enterprise the Flexible Thinking Forum in Barry in the Vale of Glamorgan, has been conducting a real-world experiment. Over two 12 month phases it explored new ways of building the muscle for creating Social Capital in our communities (what it calls ‘Social Collaborative Capital).

Our communities face a double challenge of local public service providers having to deliver more with less, while community groups are under siege.

The solution: tap into untapped potential, resource and energy within our communities.

To put it mildly, it’s bloody hard work to get people to do things. Although Margaret Mead, the anthropologist, observed that Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” We need a new role and resource within our communities of a ‘Tummler’.

You are probably already a ‘Tummler’ – someone who getS things done by connecting and inspiring people to work together.  (The word ‘Tummler’ is a Yiddish word meaning ‘someone who gets the party going.’)

Although a Tummler is similar to what are called ‘Community Ambassadors’ in community development work, the IdeasBank is different by advocating a role of a ‘Tummler for the Tummlers’. The idea is to connect existing activists, typically operating in independent pockets within the community, with each other, as well as connect with the wider community – anyone with a good mind to share.

The IdeasBank uses new opportunities in technology. It has reframed the concept of a community ideas bank away from being like a ‘display cabinet of jewels of shiny ideas’ to an engine for generating Social Capital within communities.

The IdeasBank model can be used within communities defined by geography or interest or within any group or organization.

The Flexible Thinking Forum is now proposing a Phase 3 of the Barry IdeasBank project. It aims to create a sustainable and scalable business model for community IdeasBanks – to realise its vision of a network of independent, locally-run, community ideas banks for every town or city in the UK and beyond – through an original combination of crowdfunding and using what is called social franchise to share and replicate its service.

The Barry IdeasBank is a new alternative that breaks the pattern of existing thinking and doing. A negative future of declining Social Capital is not inevitable. The Barry Ideasbank provides a new way forward.

If you would like to find out more about how a community ideas bank could be developed in your area, or for your team or organization, get in touch now.