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How do we communicate amongst ourselves?

There is a sense recently that TCG is becoming fragnented and lacks cohesion. I want to suggest ways we might resolve this.

Whilst Frome was living example of what can be done, it has the advantage (as do Totnes, Stroud, Bexhill (apparently!) – and many others) of being fairly confined geographically. Torridge is dispersed over a large area with many wards. The name TCG was chosen to denote a whole district as opposed to one small market town eg Frome. By framing it in this way we were entering the unknown – little did we know what we’re getting ourselves into!  We now have eight elected councillors from different parts of Torridge. The focus was getting these councillors elected. We are now in a different place.

The identity of TCG remains intact – a platform to encourage other communities to self-organise and develop in their own area. Each district has its own unique needs and identity. But how does it express this unique identity to the public? How do the elected councillors implement the individual concerns of the public? Carl rightly asks What’s Next?

Communication and discussion is more important than ever so that we can  ask the right questions and  explore pathways to answering them.

Current existing modes of communication are – the assemblies, meetings, emails, phone calls and messaging, Whatsapp, Facebook, Twitter, the newsletter and the new Website/forum. This is all great but fragmentation arises. Let’s look at these with their possibilities and limitations –

assemblies – every 2 months. Great initial success for the purpose of the election. Now we are in a different place the recent assembly indicates amendments are needed. (See suggestions by John Ward and reservations by Carl). Needs further discussion on purpose and means of attracting the public as well as initial TCG non-councillors supporters.

meetings – Larger meetings at Tapeley – always popular.

                         Small, frequent, group meetings and one-to-one – (we thrive on these in Northam).

Other meetings at the Custom House are variously attended, dependent on people reading emails regarding dates and purpose.. Regularly visiting the website for info might help?

emails – essential but threads can become long and unwieldy and important info eg time and focus of next meeting seems to be getting lost or unread. Again – making use of the website or the Facebook page might help.

Newsletter  Jamie produces this and reaches beyond the email list

Twitter Totally Jamie. Am I the only one liking his tweets?!

What’s app – used by the Bideford wards.

Facebook – despite Jamie and Kaye’s great video, nothing else is happening. Take a peak at NDXR’s Facebook page which is amazing! What can we learn from this? Is anyone prepared to take responsibility for the TCG Facebook page?

website/forum – a genius construction of Carl’s, and imho, one that promises to play a major part in connecting TCG councillors and the non-councillor community (and eventually the public) as well as providing a seedbed for ideas and projects and envisioning a reilient and abundant future for the people of Torridge. Something utterly lacking in present council procedures and mindsets!

So, these various modes of communication will appeal to different people. But they are in place and we should be able to improve on them and make better use of them.

The projects imagined and being created by Joel, Daniel, Guiseppe and John are fantastic opportunities for manifesting the TCG vision. And not forgetting our enormously energetic Laurence with his travelogue and research of amazing things happening in other parts of the country, returning with stories to inspire us and revive our spirits!.

Once we start supporting and promoting these projects and initiatives, we begin to provide real spaces for councillors, TCG community and the public to participate and for TCG to continue to define its identity.

The word vibrancy keeps popping into my mind – perhaps because this is what I sense when I talk to active members of TCG. There is so much imagination, expertise and commitment to a resilient – even abundant future, for the Torridge area. Let’s work together!

6 thoughts on “How do we communicate amongst ourselves?”

  1. Marianne – that’s a fantastic analysis/survey! From the point of view of one interested party (i.e. me) – I’m finding it difficult to know which of the increasing number of communication channels to engage with. I can’t monitor them all, all the time. I have a busy life outside of TCG!

    You’ve hit an important dimension, when you compare us (trying to cover an area of 500 square miles) with others which focus on a better defined community. Torridge isn’t a community; it’s an administrative unit. Bideford, Holsworthy, Northam, Appledore can be regarded as communities. (I’m not sure to what extent people in Northam, Appledore and W Ho! also identify with Bideford). That raises a question about how we focus our publicity and the agendas of our public meetings. A meeting based in Bideford is probably better focused on Bideford rather than Torridge as a whole. We are spread too thin (at the moment) to try and get people’s assemblies going in places like Hartland, Bradworthy, Holsworthy, etc. Each of these places, really, needs its own community movement which could be affiliated to TCG.

    There’s something of a mismatch between what TCG can cover, and the area which is covered by Independents for Torridge (i.e. “our” independent councillors). It may be relevant to point out that these councillors who have impressed us so much with what they are doing, are not answerable to TCG. They are answerable to the folk who elected them to office, and it may be that this is where they may feel they need to put their efforts into communicating what they are achieving. It is so important they they get re-elected next time round. This may well not happen if they have not succeeded in being seen by their electorate as a) listening councillors and b) effectively working for the issues which they have heard from their electorate as being of local concern.

    Keep up the good work, Marianne. We need your brain!!

  2. HI John and Marianne, thanks for great inout. I agree with all the above but the absolute way forward in this is outreach. I would like to put considerable effort now into setting up events in othger areas across the district so that we can give a fifteen to twenty minute presentation that is neatly organised followed by a Q and A. Simply to give peopel an introduction to TCG and the thinking behind it and how we go about things. It is clearly the time for us to be going out there and letting more people know about us as I feel that as so much of the trust that we have collectively put in our government both local and national, is collapsing (particularly national, as there are many great local councillors) people are feeling a loss of agency at best and total despair at worst! Which means there is a strong possibility that this new kind of ‘doing politics’ that involves the communiyt voice being put first and is centred ariound respectfully listening to all wioth no judgement at all, really could take off. However, to get back to the thrust of your points, so much that can be done is not yet being sone as we have remained so few and it has been a struggle. if we are to get on our second wave, then we need to be taking outreach really seriously and going to many other towns and holding events that are introductory presentations (and assemblies) as well as getting behind events like Encounters, so that we bring on board many more people which in turn means that we can start being m,uch more active on social media and all the other things you listed Marianne. I would love to have other people doing the Facebook and Twitter, helping develop the mail outs and running events etc. It has been exhausting for all of us and I have found it particulalry hard as I have bee juggling so many other things. I have the greatest respect for all those who have stuck at it and worked so hard to keep it going and the best way to show that appreciation is to go out there and get many more people on board so we can all have tyhe workload shared much more! Which would be bloody marvellous!

  3. PS just to add one more thing… I want to single out Carl as someone who has wuietly been working incredibly hard on TCG as well as being a councillor. Just look at this website and forum! Much respect!

  4. PPS something that your post also inspired in me Marianne is to share this short film on what ‘prosocial’ models look like. I got it from Kate Raworth who wrote doughnut economics, it is a magical way of sharing the best practises for communications and how to work with each other https://vimeo.com/67418343

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