Working in a Notwestminster Stylee

Photo: Local Democracy Bytes

Late on Saturday, after the main notwestminster event had finished, we started having some conversations about what exactly this notwestminster thing was.

We have the local democracy design challenges of course and these describe what we want to do but they don’t say much about how we want to do it.

So, we talked about having a manifesto like the agile software folk do.

We also talked about having design principles like the Government Digital Service people do.

We even talked about having some constitutional conventions like the Galactic Republic do (we like that ‘ most of the everyday legislation followed by citizens of the Republic was created at the planetary, sectoral, or regional level’— thanks Andrew Wilson).

Having mulled it over for a week or so I think that notwestminster is, just like Rock and Roll, a distinctive musical style.

I got the idea from Diane Sims who puts like this in her definitive post-notwestminster blog post:

What I heard amidst the busy chatter of voices at Notwestminster’s Saturday morning break time is that we have begun to develop a distinctive sound. Because our work together continues all year round, together we've weaved our ideas into a kind of score, a rhythm of intent that runs through everything we do. It’s an undertone of energy and possibility that creates the positive conversations we need to get things done.

As the Rock and Roll metaphor has served us so well over the course of the notwestminster events then why not draw on it some more to help us be clear about how we do things.

So, what is Rock and Roll? Google describes Rock and Roll like this:

a type of popular dance music originating in the 1950s, characterized by a heavy beat and simple melodies. Rock and roll was an amalgam of black rhythm and blues and white country music, usually based around a twelve-bar structure and an instrumentation of guitar, double bass, and drums

With that in mind, here is a first stab at capturing he distinctive style that is notwestminster.

The Notwestminster Style

Take it away, two, three four.

1. Designing for Citizens not Customers

Local democracy is about so much more than services and designing for the needs of citizens is different and so requires a different approach. Redesign local democracy not just services we say.

2. Thinking Local — Acting Local

Making sure that everything makes sense at the community level — democracy is about the everyday issues that affect people, not just national politics. People should recognise that something is for them because they can see the name of the place they live on it.

3. Talking Human

Would people in the pub, shop or classroom understand it? No? Then it’s not notwestminster. Being human is a necessary part of public service.

4. Performing at High Tempo

Let’s not worry too much about planning. Let’s just jump up on stage and do it. Write something, share something, do something different, get people together. We’re not about symphonies but two minute classics hammered out in 30 minute sets.

5. Mixing Other Styles

We have citizens, councillors, researchers and practitioners all working and learning together — it’s this mix of cultures and approaches that makes something unique — so let’s keep doing it. You know, like a punky reggae party.

6. Going on Tour

Getting away from the big smoke and going to places we wouldn't normally go. We don’t care about the big stadiums — in the pubs and dance halls is where we wanna be.

7. Making Some Noise

We like talking. We like sharing. We like videos, we like play lists and we like mixing pop and politics. If you are doing something great then everyone should know about it right?

8. Never Letting Up

We’re gonna rock till we pop. We’re gonna rock till we drop.

9. Accessing All Areas

And that means for everyone — yes, you are all on the guest list.

10. Doing It Yourself

Nothing says rock and roll like picking up a guitar, learning three chords and giving it a go. We are a garage band. We come from garage land. Ohh. Ohh. Ohh.

So, what do you think an what have I missed? How should this be developed further?

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