Beyond working relationships
Trying to cause social change can be a frustrating experience. Societies are complex beasts, and you rarely get any immediate feedback on whether you were successful. Sure, you can count the number of people who showed up to your event or the number of ‘likes’ you got on Facebook. But the real, fundamental, systemic change that’s really required to solve the major issues of our generation? That could take decades. And in the meantime, it can feel like you’re just wasting your time.
Even the most self-confident of changemakers have a persistent little nagging voice in the back of their minds asking whether, of all the multitude of directions they could head in, they’re taking the one that achieves maximum impact in the minimum time.
Should I try to find collaborators or just knuckle down and do it myself? Should I specialise in what I’m best at? What am I best at, really? Should I look around for grants and investment, or try to get by on a shoestring? How much of my time should I spend prototyping before I launch? Should I work flat out or should I take time to pause and reflect?
These questions and a thousand others have no simple answers. To make it worse, they change every day as your context changes, and as you change. Books and online resources are great for the more technical aspects of our work, but pretty useless when it comes to these “soft” questions. Personally, I try to muddle through and try not to think about them too much. But on my own projects, where I don’t have the benefit of a client to guide me, the self-doubt will periodically kick in and I’ll lose motivation and focus. Before long I’ll find myself aimlessly trawling Twitter, diving into the endless web of fascinating links.
You might be lucky and have caring, supportive colleagues who take genuine interest in you and your work. They’ll regularly discuss your thoughts and feelings and help you find the right path. Perhaps they’ll even offer advice from their experience, help or contacts. But many of us work in relative isolation, scattered across the city in tiny startups or a lone rebel within a heartless multinational. We know plenty of amazing changemakers, we just don’t see them very often.
That’s why I’m so excited about the Impact Hub coming to Birmingham. Creating a space where we can come every day will enable us all to form strong and trusting relationships with others who are striving for positive social change. Whatever each individual’s particular mission, context and tools, our passion for social and environmental justice will unite us. And if my experience of working with the Impact Hub team is a taste of what’s to come, it’s going to be epic.
The catchphrase “beyond working relationships” started as a joke; we’d say it whenever one of the Hub team shared something unexpectedly personal. But like the best jokes, there’s a serious point underneath: the value of the Hub will go far beyond being simply a co-working space. This is about convening a community for change; a strong group who care about each other, and support each other in our missions to create a better world.
Please back our Kickstarter and give social change a home, in Birmingham.
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