Is your council prioritising positive activities?

Thanks to Nick Booth for a pointer to this website where you can see which of the 198 National Indicators that central government sets for Local Authorities your council has chosen to focus on. Local Authorities have each had to choose 35 priority indicators that their performance will be measured against.

As Nick points out, the site isn't anywhere near as user friendly as it could be, but it does let me link to specific indicators. So, take a look at see:

There are a number of other indicators that apply to young people – and you can either search on the Local Indicators Site to see which 35 indicators your local authority is focussed on, or you can put put the three digit indicator number (i.e. 001 for #1, 078 for 78 or 112 for #112) at the end of this URL:

I'll try and put together a comprehensive list & mash-up of the data if time allows next week

Consultation games in the real world

I've explored the role of games in consultation before, but never bringing together the mix of playful real-world games, person-to-person interaction, and digital consultation and dialogue in quite the way that the process Kevin Harris describes in this recent blog post on 'Community engagement by treasure hunt'.

Kevin combined a quiz-book based treasure hunt around the site of the library due to be redeveloped with opportunities to speak to architects, chances to text-in ideas and an invitation to record reflections in the quiz-book. Kevin writes:

A key advantage of the treasure hunt was that it avoided those inactive ‘pools’ and conceptual congestion that you can get, where people stand around repeating the same points based on their own advance agenda. We have tried in the consultation exercises so far to be clear about what is negotiable and what is not, to avoid the risk that people get frustrated asking for something that is not on offer for whatever reason.

Another point is to see it more in terms of engagement than consultation. The exercise was only partially about the latter and we hold no presumptions about the depth of comment to be found in the eBooks and certainly not in the SMS exercise. These devices and processes are part of the mix of engagement which goes on and hopefully will strengthen and bear fruit

The whole excercise looks like a brilliant exercise in creative and playful consultation, building the constraints of a process in from the start, and equipping people with ongoing tools for future dialogue.

I'll certainly be looking at how I can learn from this sort of creative consultation in future.

(eBook image from Kevin's blog)

2gether08: calling youth workers with a digital vision

Update: The session has been accepted onto the schedule for the event. So if you have a youth work background and were thinking of coming along then it would be absolutely great to see you there (and to have your input). See the 2gether website for booking info on 2-day and day tickets.

[Summary: seeking youth workers and young people interested in developing ideas at 2gether 08 on an innovation lab for youth work and digital technologies]


I've just been putting together a pitch for a session at the 2gether 08 social innovation event. 2gether describes itself as:

A festival of ideas and action. On July 2-3 in London more than 300 people will gather to explore how digital technologies can bring us major social benefits.

The festival organisers have invited participants to suggest ideas for sessions and conversations at the event, and I've suggested a session called:

Towards an innovation lab for youth work 2.0 Informal education and work with young people in a digital age

Here's what I've put down as the session objective:

To sketch out what an innovation lab for youth work and informal education might look like.


Young people (13 – 18) face more challenging transitions and challenging environments in their lives than ever before. Youth work should be there supporting young people's personal and social development in the digital realm, and using digital tools. This session is about creating a vision, and identifying next steps, to bring greater use of social technology into work with young people outside of school settings.

The session will involve some inputs about current youth work challenges (video/stories etc.) and will facilitate idea exploration around youth work 2.0.

It would be great to see this help in the development of some sort of Futurelab for Youth Work. However, if this sessions does get the green light in some form, I'm going to need some help. I'm not, after all, a youth worker. After spending the last six-months spending time in youth centers and with youth workers I'm convinced that, when it's well resourced and supported, youth work has an amazing amount to offer. But for a youth work innovation lab to really work it's going to need both young people and youth workers directly involved – those who understand the territory from working in it every day.

So – if you're interested in exploring youth work 2.0, you could spare some time on the 2nd or 3rd of July, and could get yourself along to 2gether 08 – get in touch and lets see what ideas we can weave into, and bring out of, this rather innovative looking festival…

I've started a thread over on the UK Youth Online network for anyone interested in exploring this more, even if you can't make it along to 2gether (or this pitch doesn't end up in the final festival…).

Creating the UK Youth Online network

200806071439.jpgI've been looking for a while for a space where all the conversations around work with young people and new technologies/social media/web 2.0 can come together.

I've not found it. So I've set one up.

So – if you're interested in exploring what social media means for youth services, participation projects, IAG, or any other organisations providing support, advice and activities to young people – do come and join us over on the UK Youth Online Ning network.

You can create your own profile, find others with shared interests, post questions and share your learning.

And if you're on a local authority network and you find you can't access this site because of a web filter, do get in touch and we'll see what we can do to get the block lifted…



Who is there already?

Visit UK Youth Online

Video Change: online video for campaigners

Find more videos like this on Video Change


Sometime last year on the way to an Oxfam Youth Board residential I scribbled down a back-of-the-envelope idea for running an online learning journey for campaigners on using social media tools in their local campaigning.

The idea progressed from envelope to project proposal, moved to a focus on online video and morphed into a project plan.

And in a couple of weeks – the project moves from project plan, to actual project. The actual project is taking the form of a six-week 'course' going by the name of Video Change – one topic and task each week relating to creating, sharing and campaigning with online video. We'll be using a Ning network to bring together the participants and run the project – and hopefully by the end of it we should have some pretty nifty video clips to contribute to Oxfam's soon-to-be-launched Sisters on the Planet campaign.

Video Change is for beginners and experienced video makers and social media people alike – so if you're interested in the issues Oxfam campaigns on and in exploring video for social change – then do sign up to take part.

And if you want a bit more a sense of what it's all about – then you can check out my first attempt at a video for the project above.

And what about Youth Work 2.0

After being encouraged by Steve Bridger's post to ask what Fair Trade 2.0 might look like – I've found myself responding to Mike Amos-Simpson this evening on Youth Work 2.0.

You can find my sketch of possible options for Youth Work 2.0 over here – and I promise that's the last Something 2.0 post here for a while…

Youth Work and Social Networking – interim report out

Picture 16 Just a quick pointer to the Interim Report of the Youth Work and Social Networking project I've been working on with Pete Cranston over the last few months.

This turned into a far longer report and piece of work than I'd anticipated – but I hope it sets out some clear foundations for the next phase of research – working on the practical 'How To' of moving from where we now, to a place where an effective youth work perspective and practice in responding to online social networks is in place.

You can read more on the project blog over here…. and I'd really welcome any feedback or reflections through the comments or by e-mail.

What would Fair Trade 2.0 look like?

Over at the newly arrived 2gether08 website Steve Bridger has been musing about what Fair Trade 2.0 might look like.

The FAIRTRADE Mark changes peoples behavior by giving them information about the products they are buying. When you buy a product with a FAIRTRADE Mark on you know that the producer has been paid a fair price for their work, alongside a social premium to be invested in development projects in their community. But the Fair Trade movement is not just about changing people's buying decisions in the abstract – it is also about re-forging the connections between producer and consumer that get lost in a globalised market-driven world.

Whilst my jar of Fairtrade Coffee might provide me with a story about one of the producers involved in the co-op that made it – the social web could do a lot more – and that could bring on Fair Trade 2.0.

What might Fair Trade 2.0 look like?

1) Producer Stories
The short quote from Daniel Minaya Huaman on the back of my jar of Cafe Direct is great – but to really know where my coffee comes from – what if every producer was offering the sort of stories that I can find at From Crop 2 Cup?

Of course, you might ask just how many people are really going to go any look up all the items in their shopping basket online? When I was working for Just Fair Trade in Leicester we explored options for moving to an electronic point of sale system that would print information about the producers on customers receipts. If the stories were there – we would have been able to give customers a far stronger connection with the producer of the products they were buying.

2) Seeing the whole supply chain
Right now the FAIRTRADE Mark tells me about the original commodity producer – but it doesn't tell me the whole story. For example, I don't know the conditions in which the Fairtrade Cotton trousers I bought from M&S the other day were made – and whilst I know that the farmer of the coffee I'm drinking got more for her work that she would have selling a non-fair trade product – I don't know how much of the money went to the farmer.

That's one of the issues that projects like FairTracing are seeking to address – tracking and laying the whole supply chain open to see in Web 2.0 ways. Try this prototype for example.

Or when it comes to an audit trail – what about this system from coffee path that shows all the documentation from along the supply chain.

3) Better decision making information

Ever since I first saw the Corporate Fallout Detector I've been curious about the simple ways in which information about the ethics of a product can be presented to people at point of sale in a straightforward way.

There are two challenges:
a) The space available on packaging can make it tricky to present enough information to people when they are choosing between products. Often the information gets reduced to product marks (Organic, Fairtrade, Non-air-freight) from certifying bodies. But my ethical views may not be fully captured by the certifying marks available.

b) Even when I can get all the information I want about a product, the cognitive load of calculating and comparing products is often simply too much (I find myself wanting to go back to a simple certifying mark of some sort).

Improving decision making in Fair trade 2.0 could go a number of directions. It could go the Wiki-way being explored by WIBI.IT or we could find more advanced versions of the Ethiscore and Gooshing ideas that make it easy to order products according to your own ethical beliefs – as well as according to pre-set values.

4) Making connections
All the ideas above are about getting better Fair Trade information for the customer. But social media also presents massive potential opportunities for actual dis-intermediated connection between producer and consumer. As internet connectivity becomes more ubiquitous on the supply side – could I find myself following my coffee grower in Twitter, and competing in an eBay auction for a premium supply of chocolate beans? Could I be setting up a live chat with a grower, rather than just showing a slide-show when encouraging my workplace to switch to Fair Trade? The two-way role of social media in the future of fair trade is not something I've not yet given much thinking time to… but perhaps this is where the future really lies. The technology creates the connection… and then it can almost get out of the way…

5) What else?
What do you think lies in the future of Fair Trade? What will social media transform? What are the challenges ahead. I'm sure Steve would appreciate your comments over on the 2gether site – and I'd certainly welcome any reflections here…

Corporate Fallout Detector image from:

Three observations on policy responses to youth and social network sites

Ofcom Media LiteracyOn Friday Ofcom published their Media Literacy Audit on UK children's media literacy (thanks to Jackie Marsh for the link). As I was reading the Executive Summary, one paragraph in the section on content creation and online social network sites caught my attention:

Among many [young] social networking site users there is a lack of awareness of, or concern about, potential safety and security risks. Many feel that they are immune to any potential risks, and that even if they were to have problems, they would be able to deal with them.

It's worth just picking that apart briefly:

  • 1) The first part, "a lack of awareness of, or concern about, potential safety and security risks", is something we can address. The architecture of sites, the information made available to young people and informal learning opportunities can help young people to become aware of possible pitfalls and dangers in the use of social network sites.

    That said, amongst young people there is a lack of awareness, or concern about, many potential risks. To know whether there is a clear case for increasing young people's awareness of risk we need:

    a) to know if young people are comparatively less aware of risks on social network sites as opposed to risks of equal severity in the offline world (e.g. risk of becoming a victim or crime, risk of sexual abuse by a known adult).

    b) to decide whether the risks to young people are severe enough to prioritise making young people acutely aware of them.

    In the same way that internet filters are often guilty of 'overblocking' (filtering out good content along with the bad) – awareness of potential risk is 'overblocking' – it creates a fear of caution that not only prevents individuals engaging in risky behaviors, but it also has a tendency to make individuals cautious and risk-averse in their take up of potentially very beneficial opportunities.

  • 2) "Many feel that they are immune to any potential risks,". Put simply: don't all teenagers believe they are invulnerable? By way of a more sustained argument – adolescence is a time of risk-taking in which young people's brain chemistry is geared towards feelings of invulnerability. We should take this aspect of youth as more or less a given, rather than a problem that needs to be 'solved' through information and awareness campaigns.

  • 3) Young people believe that "even if they were to have problems, they would be able to deal with them." From the way this sentence is phrased, I take it that the authors consider this to be a concern.

    It's not obvious, however, that a large number young people believing they can deal with the problems they encounter should be of concern. Again – we need to know a lot more to make a sensible policy decision. In particular, we need to know whether those young people who believe they would be able to deal with problems actually could.

    If is exactly an increase in the number of young people who believe they would be able to deal with problems (and actually would) that we need. Increases in young people's resiliency and ability to address negative outcomes of risky behaviors as early as possible should be our core positive indicator in looking at online safety.

    It is worth noting that we can't accurately test how many young people actually could deal with 'problems' online by asking them about their responses to a theoretical question and comparing this to adult ideas of 'best practice' in such cases. Young people's coping strategies may be adopted on creative patens that adults would not necessarily recognize as sensible responses to a given problem. That adults do not immediately recognize them as sensible or effective does not immediately mean that they are not.

Ofcom's paper is research report – and does not make policy recommendations. However, the research often reflects and directs policy concerns – and I hope in the above I've managed to at least point to a number of potentially problematic assumptions or implicit beliefs that are often active in the direction of policy responses to youth and social network sites.

Le Triple Ventoux: sponsor Bill Badham’s mildly insane cycle ride

As if annually taking on a stage of the Tour de France hasn't been enough, this year, in celebration of his 50th Birthday, Bill Badham is taking on 'Le Triple Ventoux' challenge to raise money for the Maypole Centre. This from his Just Giving page:

There is a challenge organized by a French bicycle club (actually, a brotherhood) next to Mount Ventoux, a massive 2000 metre mountain in Provence in France. They say, “It is normal for a bike rider to try to climb Mont Ventoux at least once in a lifetime, but you are crazy if you do it again.”

There are 3 different routes you can use to go to the top of Mont Ventoux.

If you can climb all the routes in one day thats what Bill is going to do on July 6 2008 (starting from Bedoin, Malaucene and Sault), between sunrise and sunset, you are declared “Nut of Mont Ventoux.” Putting all that in perspective, to accomplish this feat Bill will climb 4500 metres. That's over half the height of Everest – the descending is another story.


Bill is raising funds for Maypole Youth Centre. Pete and 3 young people, Ross, Matt and Jon will be cycling up one of the routes and descending with Bill on his final descent.

Bill is wanting to raise £1 a metre of climbing – that's £4500. The money raised will fund 45 young people from Druids Heath Estate over the next three years to take part in their Spring Adventure weekend which Matt, Ross and Jon will be organising. Check out our youtube sites! oh yeah and with your speaker volume to high

Why Maypole? Bill says "Well there are of course many great projects working with young people. It's just that for me, the Maypole Centre represents all that is most wonderful and inspiring about young people and all that is best in supporting young people achieve their full potential."

So, if you've ever sneakily downloaded a copy of Hear by Right or you've been inspired by one of Bill's energetic keynote speeches, or even if you don't know Bill, but want to support a fantastic youth project in Birmingham – then do head over to Just Giving and drop in a donation.

(I've worked with Bill for the last 6 years – in fact, it was in a project managed by Bill that I first got involved in youth participation. Plus, the Maypole Centre were one of the sites piloting a model of youth work based upon Positive Youth Development earlier this year. T'is really worth supporting.)

Maypole Youth-Healthy Outcomes