CfC Annual Report 2021

CfC held an AGM on 17 November 2021. This is a summary of the report presented


(Slide 1)

Welcome to the CfC AGM 2021. CfC was set up in 2018 to look around and see not only the civil rights issues facing us in the 21st Century but also to find out about the people working on the solutions. The image of the Ghanian Sankofa bird (looking backwards to move forwards) represents our focus.

This is the first Collaboration for Change (CfC) Annual General Meeting, held in accordance with the constitution adopted in September 2020. Over the past 14 months CfC have been discussing the governance structure of this growing network. There is an open invitation to all members to meet monthly to Pause, Reflect and Reconnect, holding an overview of and being accountable for the work of CfC, developing and expanding the work and building the network. 10 members so far have committed to doing this and we have agreed to keep the constitution and honour the agreements in it for the time being. We are also continuing to explore our ways of communicating and decision making with the aim of maintaining integrity and oversight while also being open and inclusive.

Declaration for the Common Good

(Slide 2)

The Declaration for the Common Good was written in an open inclusive process in 2020.

The Declaration expresses CfC’s vision and the spirit of our work. CfC makes visible the progressive work which is mostly under the radar of mainstream media, politicians and even the community/voluntary sector. We want to learn and we want to enable people to make connections. The CfC community of interest (the database has over 400 members) is made up of individuals and groups who want to work collaboratively for the common good. There is an appetite for sharing expertise that somehow hasn’t been quenched by the competitive culture which is at the core of the current economic system and being deliberately fanned by social media.


(Slides 3 & 4)

Like everyone else CfC have had to adapt to working online with its advantages and disadvantages. We initially used open source software but unfortunately weren’t able to find a service that met our needs so are using the ubiquitous zoom. We have been able to reach many more people more easily than if we had been organising in-person events. But we are looking forward to meeting up face to face again.

Online in 2020 and 2021 CfC hosted a programme of monthly information and discussion sessions highlighting local progressive work. These included Community Wealth Building, Participatory Budgeting, Non-Binary Decision Making, different perspectives on a Green New Deal, Meer Reflection, Universal Basic Income, Food Security, and the Northern Mutual Bank. All the showcases were presented by people working in the island of Ireland. A big thanks to Tony Weekes, Tom Woolley, Mary Mc Manus, Louise O Kane, Peter Emerson, Anne Ryan, Patrick Brown, Bridget Meehan, Peter Dynes and William Taylor for sharing their work. And a big thanks to everyone who joined in the discussions.

Joining the Dots

(Slide 5)

Joining the Dots sessions brought together local thinkers and actors for conversations on shared solutions for current real-time problems. Kevin Murphy one of the CfC founders facilitated two JtD sessions. The first session brought together Zero Waste activists, women who were sewing reusable masks and aprons and a vet working in a meat factory to look at alternatives to the production of single-use PPE. The second JtD session involved a collective of women refugees and asylum seekers, a company making fermented food products, community activists and an immigration lawyer to look at possible solutions for the women being able to benefit from their work without being in danger of serious penalties. Both sessions were energising and productive.

Demystifying and Reimagining Economics

(Slide 6)

CfC member Tony Weekes facilitated a series of online sessions exploring a range of economic systems and the central role of money creation. As economist Ha Joon Chang explains - if your only tool is a hammer then you will use a hammer to deal with every problem. Much better to have a Swiss army knife! CfC members Denis Stewart and Neil Mc Cann are supporting Tony in developing the next DARE season.


(Slide 7)

CfC are continuing to explore models of democratic participatory governance. In the past year we hosted three conversations. The first looked at the Cecosesola network of cooperatives in Venezuela from which we learned that it is possible to organise without hierarchies: ‘we are in a communal process in which we are constantly educating ourselves and arranging our lives.’ From Cecosesola we have taken the practice of rotating the chairperson and taking on stretching ourselves by learning as much as possible about all the roles needed.

In the second conversation Joanna Mc Minn introduced us to Sociocracy or Dynamic Governance based on interconnecting autonomous circles all feeding into the governance circle. In the third conversation Patricia Swann talked about the ways the intentional community she founded and lived in used pause reflect and reconnect times. Joanna and Patricia are continuing to support our governance practice at the monthly meetings.

Participatory Budgeting (PB)

(Slide 8)

Participatory Budgeting (PB) is a way for people to have a direct say in how funds are used to address local needs. CfC have been working in partnership with Louise O Kane PB Works NI to enable a group of 12 women from across the community sector in NI to learn about the PB process by being in a PB Design Team. Noeleen Diver has been wearing both her CfC and PB Works hats. Creating Connections is the first entirely digital PB and the first to have raised money through crowdfunding. A big thanks also to local artist Brian Ballard who donated paintings for auction to raise more funds. The pitches for Creating Connections have now been submitted and the videos will be on the cfctogether website from Nov 24th until Dec 6th.

CfC have also secured funding from National Lottery Awards for All to contract technical assistance to develop the PB voting software and support communities in using it for their own PBs.


(Slide 9)

Bridget Meehan has been managing the CfC website including the online map and the Your Priorities platform - an online discussion forum designed for sharing and exploring ideas (unlike mainstream social media). Noeleen and Bridget did the groundwork on sourcing the PB voting software and Bridget is working with software technician Paul on developing this. Bridget, Noeleen and Marian manage the CfC gmail and mailchimp. Mary Mc Manus keeps people informed on CfC twitter.

Getting Noticed

(Slide 10)

CfC has itself been under the radar but is beginning to be noticed. Open Government Network NI approached us to co-host two conversations on ideas for how government in NI could be more open, transparent and accountable. OGN brought the ideas to the NI Executive for inclusion in the open government action plan. Volunteer Now featured CfC in an article in their e-magazine. The Wellbeing Economy Alliance Ireland asked CfC to give advice on our online platforms and Stevie Downes continues to represent CfC in the Alliance. CRAIC NI whose goal is to develop and deliver quality learning experiences that focus on integration, cohesion and inclusive action started a conversation with us about co-hosting an event at next year’s Imagine! Festival of politics and ideas.

Linking Networks

(Slide 11)

The ultimate aim of CfC is the facilitation of a network of networks sharing resources, supporting each other’s work and collaborating on shared initiatives. The first step has been taken with the recent COP 26 Coalition on the Rights of Nature bringing together environmental activists from across the island of Ireland to coordinate rallies in Derry, Belfast and Dublin and to facilitate an online discussion. The connections made are continuing with the possibility of the next focus being the link between divestment from fossil fuels and Community Wealth Building.


(Slide 12)

This snapshot of the digital version of post-its on a flip chart gives an overview of the CfC work and the people involved. The current Pause, Reflect and Reconnect team offer an invitation to you to join us, Noeleen Diver, Bridget Meehan, Mary Mc Manus, Patricia Swann, Joanna Mc Minn, Neil Mc Cann, Stevie Downes, Tony Weekes, Pat Monteague, Marian Farrell.

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