Weeknote 1 — Launching
Each week we will publish an update of progress, updates and what we are noticing in the Camden Imagination Activism programme — a training to build imagination capacity and practice with council officers and in the borough of Camden. Welcome to our first Weeknote.
It’s the end of Week 1, and we have lift off of the Imagination Activism programme! This week we launched the programme with our 32 participants — and we are off to an exciting start.
We have officially moved into delivery of the Camden Imagines programme and we will be sharing Weeknotes on Medium (publicly) and Essentials (Camden’s internal systems”. The main content of our Weeknotes will include:
- What has happened in the Camden Imagines programme this week? We will share illustrations that the wonderful Reilly (from the Moral Imaginations team) has created.
- What are we hearing from the participants? We will share some quotes with you!
- What has been happening in the wider Camden Imagines project?
What has happened in the Camden Imagines programme this week?
Participants were fully onboarded on to the programme with inspiring
words of welcome from Jo Brown, director of people and inclusion and welcomes from Phoebe and the Moral Imaginations facilitation team.
Jo invited the group to get to know one another as people through this unique opportunity, and also underscored the importance of imagination in times like these, given the types of challenges we are facing at the local and global levels, and everywhere in between. She specifically noted that imagination is a key capacity within local authorities like Camden, as a place of last support for those community members who have been made vulnerable and who need it. Imagination, as Jo and Phoebe write in their article, is so much more than frivolous daydreaming — it is a core strength that allows us to connect powerfully with the here and now, with what could be, as well as the past and possible futures.
Our team, led by Phoebe Tickell, gave brief introductions and Phoebe began orienting the group to our programme as it will unfold over the next 3 months. Camden Imagines is about offering new knowledge, practices, and tools, and it is also about uncovering what is already there. The programme will focus on action — doing! — not just absorbing or listening. We will build collective responsibility to move from from building our toolkit to taking ownership of what we create, imagine, and do, together.
We then went through an overview of the programme, and broke out into eight pods or home groups to create names for each and reflect on a text by Rob Hopkins shared before the session. These pods will exist as a home base throughout the programme, within the larger cohort as a whole.
One of the core practices we introduced participants to was the Collective Scrapbook, where collective imagining and creating takes place. It is also a place where everyone can share their musings, drawings, what they’re reading, and their learning throughout the course.
We introduced participants to the core of what it means to be an Imagination Activist. We talked about the three different kinds of activism, and what kind of qualities and practices and tools equip the Imagination Activist. Participants reflected that this kind of activism is at the heart of Camden, and many people resonated with a kind of resistance that works by envisioning and enacting the new, and helping others expand their sense of what is possible.
Finally, each week we will be setting homework, this week everyone has been asked to pay attention to their environment on their next walk that is over 20 minutes. They have been encouraged to look for anything you see that you would love to see more of in your vision of 2030. This could look like children playing in the street, bicycle lanes, or a nice community garden — anything that captures your imagination. Each participant has been given a physical journal so we are encouraging everyone to use this (or a device that works best for them) to jot down what they see.
What did participants receive in their onboarding packs?
Each of the 32 participants have received their own personal onboarding pack, complete with a journal for the duration of the course, pens, pencils and a set of posters for them to create their Imagination space, at work and at home, and their welcome letter. You can see some of the posters below. They feature quotes from some of our favourite Imagination Activists, like Arundhati Roy and the late David Graeber.
Two of the posters the Activists received:
What are we hearing from the participants?
Participants are very excited about the opportunity to bring creativity into their work.
Some of the responses we heard when people were asked what has fired their imaginations so far in the session:
“Impossible is nothing”
“What excites me most is the permission for creativity!”
“I’m excited by the fact there are so many people from all corners willing to make a change”
“Feels like a huge opportunity”
“Excitement at the idea that we will not change anything with an old mindset”
What has been happening in the wider Camden Imagines movement?
Phoebe had great conversations with Jenny and Gillian and they talked about ways imagination could become embedded into the way things work at Camden, both inside the organisation and in the work with residents.
We will introduce our brilliant cohort of Camden Imagination Activists.