An invitation to join the Reimagining Government Community
“One of the most vital ways we sustain ourselves is by building communities of resistance, places where we know we are not alone.” - bell hooks
Today we’re excited to share something that we at the Centre for Public Impact Australia and Aotearoa New Zealand (CPI ANZ) have been thinking and talking about for more than a year now — the “Reimagining Government Community”. This blog describes what the Community is; why we think it’s important; and how you can get involved. For more detail, you can also have a look at this slide deck.
What is the Reimagining Government Community?
The Reimagining Government Community is a collective of people who feel an affinity to CPI’s vision for better government, and who are committed to exploring and supporting the ideas within that vision in different ways.
There are three ways to be involved in the Reimagining Government Community: as a Community of Practice Member; as a Network Member; or as a Collaborator.
Our Community of Practice (CoP) is open to anyone. You can become a member by simply joining the Slack Channel. The idea is that the CoP is a place to share ideas, resources, and engage in conversations with other community members. There are also opportunities to participate in CoP events (our last event was focussed on storytelling, and was hosted by Dalit Kaplan of Storywell). For the time being, Jess is the CoP host, and she will be working with CoP members to explore different ways to ensure this remains a dynamic and valuable space for everyone involved.
Being a Collaborator means actively working with CPI on a project. For example, Lorenn Ruster spent 2021 working with us as a Responsible Tech Collaborator and we currently have Jason Tampake, Logan Timmins and Stefan Fothe working with us to design and deliver a leadership program to Senior Executives in the Australian Public Service. You can become a Collaborator either by responding to opportunities through the Network (described below) or through putting forward an EOI.
The newest element of our Community is the option to become a Network member. The Network is not simply a pool of contractors which CPI can draw into projects as needed; but rather, a collective of people, connected by a common vision, who can form relationships with each other, and pursue projects and ideas together, without any involvement from CPI at all. Precisely how the Network works is something that we will be co-creating with members once it is established. Alli will be the primary host, with support from the rest of the CPI ANZ team.
We know that for communities like this to thrive, it is important to have someone actively tending to them. For this reason, we see the role of CPI as being the Community Steward and Network Weaver.
Why are we doing this?
We are developing the Reimagining Government Community for three main reasons.
Firstly, because we want to experiment with a different form of growth; one which expresses itself as propagation, rather than scale. We have received significant demand for our work and want to explore what it means and looks like to respond to this demand not by growing and bringing more people to the core team, but by growing a network of people around us who can work with and alongside us.
Secondly, because we want to practise an abundance, rather a deficit, mindset. Instead of seeing our relationship with other people and organisations who are working in similar spaces as competitive in nature, we want to reframe how we work alongside each other as a collective effort, where our work — separately and together — is viewed as being in service of the change we are all working towards.
Finally, we know that we will only be able to realise our vision to reimagine government by cultivating and nurturing relationships with other actors in our ecosystem — reimagining government is not something that CPI can do alone! As Luke Craven has written (drawing on Iris Marion Young’s social connection model), “the behaviour of complex systems can be altered only if many actors in diverse social positions work together to shift it.” The Community we are developing gives us a chance to weave connections in different ways, build new relationships, deepen existing ones, engage in collective imagining, and support collective efforts to shift the system of which we are a part.
What do we hope Community members will get from this?
Since CPI ANZ began in 2020, we’ve heard, many times, how lonely the work of reimagining government can feel. We hope that the Community will offer its members support from others who understand how challenging and slow this work can be, and who appreciate how counter-cultural these new ways of working can be. There will be some issues that only those who work in and around government can understand and support you with.
Perhaps more pragmatically, there will be approaches, methods, toolkits, and materials that others in the Community have developed or used, that we hope will be shared for others to use, adapt, and benefit from. There will be new connections made, and new relationships built, spurring opportunities for shared projects and endeavours.
Drawing on the words and ideas of Sam Rye, we hope that this Community will offer members a platform from which to do meaningful work together, but also create value in and of itself by offering a place for people to connect deeply and learn with and from each other.
How can you get involved?
To join the CoP, simply join the Reimagining Government Community of Practice Slack Channel. The opportunity to join the CoP is always open, and membership is not limited to people based in Australia and Aotearoa New Zealand.
To join the Network, send in a short email application which answers the following questions by 17 October:
- What does “reimagining government” mean to you? (250 words)
- Why are you interested in becoming a Reimagining Government Network member? (250 words)
- What do you feel you will bring to the Network? (250 words)
The Network will be limited to 15 people for the first year. While membership of the Network is not limited to people based in Australia and Aotearoa New Zealand, locally-based applicants will be prioritised. If selected, there will be a $180 joining fee, which will contribute to the costs of running the Network. If that fee is a barrier for you, please do let us know and we’ll find a way of making it work.
Opportunities to join as a Collaborator will come up on an ad hoc basis. The CPI ANZ team will reach out to Network members first when opportunities arise. Network members will not need to submit an EOI to join a project as a Collaborator.
If a Collaborator is needed, and no Network members are available, or if a particular skill-set is needed which is not available within the Network, an EOI will be advertised on the CoP Slack Channel, and on on CPI’s Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook pages.
As with everything we do, this Community is an experiment. We will make mistakes. We will learn. We will adapt, adjust, and improve together as we go. This is our invitation to plant seeds, and see what grows.
We’d love you to join us.