Below is a “charter” document that we are asking organisations to endorse. The list of actions that organisations might take is not mandatory (as in “possible actions we might take”). But we will ask organisations that have endorsed the charter to explain, after roughly six months, what actions they have in fact taken, and what changes (hopefully positive!) they’ve noticed in the tone and outcomes of their meetings. If they’ve taken no action, they’ll be removed from the list of endorsers.
Gathering Momentum: Towards a “Manchester Way” of holding public events
There is a dangerous gap between the importance of our mission and the level of our results so far. Coping with climate change will demand bottom-up solutions as well top-down technocratic ones.
People attend meetings for information, but also in the hope of being inspired and connecting with their fellow citizens. Our current methods of organising and holding meetings – which we have used for decades - have not succeeded in creating the vibrant social movement, full of inspired and networked people, that we aspire to. Many people attend one or two of our meetings and are then never seen again. We have to acknowledge this if we are ever going to improve and we ought to think carefully about why this is happening, and what we can all do to improve it.
We the undersigned commit to taking action to address these problems by examining our own practises and discussing these ideas with other groups.
Possible steps we could take;
Distinguish between lectures, workshops and forums in our publicity and ensure that we- especially the people directly organising and facilitating an event- know the difference.
Consider how those people who come to our meeting not knowing anyone can be made to feel welcome, have proceedings explained simply, and leave having had the explicit opportunity to meet with other people in a non-threatening and non-invasive manner.
Make strenuous efforts to publicise our existence to organisations representing ethnic minorities, while reflecting that the problem might not be “them” but “us.”
Provide support and training for all group members wishing to take public roles in meetings, but especially people from ethnic minorities, women and people with disabilities.
Distribute and collect anonymous feedback forms that explicitly ask people whether they felt they were encouraged and helped to meet new people, whether they felt included and inspired, and what ideas they have for the way meetings can be improved in the future.
Insist that our speakers keep their contributions to the agreed time, and ask our speakers to engage the audience early in their presentation by asking a series of questions about who knows what about the issue at hand.
Publish all feedback, positive and negative (that is not libellous, discriminatory or gratuitously offensive) and use it to improve the format and delivery of our meetings.
Pass the feedback from our meetings to other groups organising similar events so they can, if they so choose, learn from our mistakes and our successes.
Promptly (within one week, ideally within two days) write up an account of our meeting for our website