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How to write your own epitaph

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Only one of these excellent people is wearing an on-brand dress

In this week’s blog: we write our own epitaph; we rebuild our crowdsourcing platform; and we go to lots of events.

💀 Here lies Democracy Club 💀

Last week we gathered our board together in the sunny climes of East London for a day of plotting the future. To help us draw out some ideas, one of the tasks set by our facilitator was to write Democracy Club’s epitaph.

By happy coincidence, each of the three groups imagined a different time of death to write about, almost giving us short, medium and long-term vision statements.

Here’s what we came up with:

Here lieth Democracy Club…because of them, people who are democratically engaged have the data and information to enable them to make more informed decisions.” (b.2009, d.2024)

Here lies Democracy Club…which mobilised activists/volunteers and applied modern digital approaches to providing high-quality voting information and embedded this approach both in the state institutions and broader society, create a society where access to, and meaningful engagement in all democratic processes became the norm.” (b.2009, d.2049)

Here lies Democracy Club… because of them everybody in the UK participates in the decisions which impact their lives. The club laid the foundations for easy, understandable, inclusive democratic processes that successfully shifted the way a generation thinks.” (b.2009, d.2070)

These sketches, and our conversations around them, will help contribute to a new vision statement, which we’ll be working on with some of the board for the next few months. We’re keen for your feedback and thoughts!

Some obvious questions arise — please chew these over, discuss them in the Slack, or come find us at an event to chat about them — :

  • Who’s our audience currently? Who should our audience be?
  • Who else shares such a vision? Which organisations? How are we going to work together?
  • What’s the geographical scale we want to look at?
  • What’s the breadth of democracy issues we want to look at?
  • What policy (and advocacy) work do we need to do?
  • Where’s the money coming from?
  • What’s the change we can measure?

Other stuff to come out of the away day: an internal calendar for the next year (add stuff we’ve forgotten!) and a not inconsiderable list of stuff we need but don’t currently have, which we’ll elucidate in another blog post soon.

🏃🏽 Onto Sprint #7 🏃🏽

On Tuesday, we joined the open data co-working event in Cardiff (thanks Indycube and ODI Cardiff) to do some sprint planning.

The big scary technical work being done right now is to renew the candidates crowdsourcing platform, which has been held together with string for too many elections. Originally built as a database for storing details of individuals, we’ve layered elections, parties and results on top of it, til it resembles a slightly unnerving jenga tower.

The goal is to create a proper database, that accurately models the key elements of an election. It’s a grand project, made all the more fun by the fact that the crowdsourcer needs to be in good enough shape to be usable in the event of a snap general election. (Thanks Laura Kuenssberg for setting off alarm bells this morning.)

Sym and Chris have been cracking through this work and will continue to do so during this sprint. What’s exciting is that in a not too distant future, this might mean the ability to add new features to the crowdsourcing platform. There’s an issue list as long as your arm on Github, and we’ll be keen for your views on what should be a priority.

🚲 Out and about 🚲

New Radicals

Last night, The Observer newspaper and Nesta, now a charity, formerly the National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts, had their biennial shindig celebrating 50 New Radicals: people and projects across the UK radically reforming the way we live.

We were new and radical once, so Nesta kindly invited us along to tell the story of our time since then. It was inspiring to meet a giant room full of people trying their damnedest to make things better.

There’s a lovely Observer print magazine dedicated to all the radicals, but you’ll have to go back in time to last Sunday to buy it. Happily, the 50 are also online here.

LocalGovCamp

Today and tomorrow, the great and good of digitally minded folks get together to plot and plan for better local government: follow the unconference on twitter. This morning a minister for local govt announced that a local gov digital fund will open next week. We’d love to chat about ideas for digital services for democracy with any local authorities who fancy a project!

The World Transformed

Also this weekend (and beyond) is the bombastically named The World Transformed festival, which will bring lots of people with new ideas together in Liverpool. Joe will be at any workshop/talk with ‘democracy’ in the title.

National Democracy Week Council returns

Last July we joined pals across the can-we-make-democracy-any-better space at the wonderful People’s History Museum in Manchester to celebrate National Democracy Week, timed to coincide with the women’s suffrage anniversaries.

The Cabinet Office have now run an evaluation of the week and we’re curious to see whether it met their expectations and whether the week will live on. We’ll be in Whitehall next Thursday to learn more.

📊 Last night’s results 📊

At the time of writing, we’re still looking for the results of yesterday’s by-elections. They might not have appeared yet… but worth checking the twitter accounts of the relevant councils. The list of elections with results not yet added is here. (If it’s empty, we’ve got them all, hurrah!)

📅 What’s next? 📅

All of the above, while we also continue our fundraising drive and our research into underrepresented groups’ experience with election info…

Forward!