Wednesday, 25 March 2015

Be The Change- Community Action Meeting

Be The Change Cambridge is an on-going project rather than an organisation. This way I feel it feels more as an open door rather than a closed one, here everyone is welcome rather than a select few, which seems to be what much like the growing trend in Cambridge. Because of it being a project, they are always looking for more people to join in or volunteer, or both when they throw these amazing events because no matter who you are, they believe that you will bring a new perspective and ideas to something that no one else may have even thought of.

I am a great believer in group work and I feel that Be The Change are going about things the right way. But the little girl inside of me is always surprised by the amount of different views people have about one subject and even though we really do want the same thing, no one really thinks of the same approach and no one ever arrives at the same conclusion. In many ways, I believe that this in itself is a beautiful thing as it shows that many different perspectives of human thinking. If everyone thought similarly, no one would really think widely on issues and no one would make an educated decision. Having said that, from what I have learnt, people who are supposed to represent us hardly make decisions based entirely on information or education. Everyone has their own agenda and the most important decisions end up being made based entirely of personal opinions.

The latest event took place on the 20th March, and this time I facilitated a workshop and tried to help out in the planning as much as I could. I have to say, this time my experience was very different, I didn't take part in the event as much but was at hand to help and do anything I could to see the smooth running of it. But from what I have heard from people who attended it, they really enjoyed themselves and felt empowered.

There were a couple of issues outside the event's sphere, but connected through the political paradigm nonetheless. Firstly, the same certain person from last time took over the discussion in the workshop I was facilitating. Last time, I was in their group and was felt very deflated and sad for being effectively gagged for not having the same opinions or approach to Green Spaces as them. But this time with the help of a volunteer, we were able to steer the discussion away and include everyone in that group. This does not reflect the event as it was just an individual overtaking the space that was meant to be used by everyone in the workshop. I did begin the workshop by laying down the ground rules such as listening to one another- just because I saw that this individual was there. But I think that this is something that is a wider issue in a lot of areas of life in general. Certain people see themselves as superior for a number of reasons and see others as inferior for whatever reason. Perhaps because they think their ideas are the best or because their needs are the biggest.

Secondly, we didn't have our MP or the other candidates, although we did see all four party representatives coming in at different points of the day. I am still surprised at the MP Candidates not showing up, especially as we are so close to the general elections. They could have at least shown up for 10 minutes. But of course of the 4 candidates, there are still disputes of how many actually live in Cambridge, apart from of course the Labour candidate Daniel Zeichner and the MP Julian Huppert. I say this because the last time we had this event, Chamali Fernandez- the Tory candidate- had no idea about the social problems in Cambridge, she didn't even know there were homeless people in Cambridge, it seemed to me like she either hadn't walked around before, or just stayed in the more Utopian side of Cambridge. She also said that she was from London (figures). But as it was self-evident, she didn't really live here and she wasn't from here. And finally, Rupert Read, representing the Green party, actually lives in Norwich. So, of the 4 candidates only 2 live in the city and understand the dynamics probably more deeply than the other two.

If I had one negative, it would be about Anglia Ruskin University the host who okayed the rooms we would have and yet forgot to let us know that there were exams taking place on the day in the exact rooms we had booked. So this meant that we began a little later. Because the event was determined to be bigger, we had rooms throughout the Lord Ashcroft building, on the ground level as well as the 1st floor. I can say that I really preffered the first event, with its compatibility, so next time, I would like to see the event take place in the rooms on the ground floor perhaps, closer to one another. But as Antony Carpen- the founder said, we got the rooms for free and we'll take what we can get.

Now on to the positives, I would like to thank Antony for letting me participate in this event. One thing he wanted this time was the participation of young people- students. I thought this was a great idea, and looking inwardly I realised what an amazing thing this event would be for fellow students on my degree and so got a lecturer to email all our students in the faculty, alas I was the only one that I am aware of from the degree that actually turned up. I would say that that was a missed opportunity. We did however get a lot of students from the sixth forms and the other university, and they seem to really enjoy the event.

Another positive of the event was the conversations I had with a variety of different people, from being taught how to speak in public by a professional to speaking to the Mayor and her Consort about my workshop on Cycling. Cycling is a topic that a lot of local people have an opinion about. Our local newspaper always has cycling related stories. People are passionate about it, positively and negatively. I feel that it affects all of us, whether we cycle, walk or drive as we all use the roads to get from A to B. It was insightful to learn about the processes of how things get done in this area- which by the way is very slowly in Cambridge, and how things are very messed up and confusing when the different local authorities are involved. I was a little surprised to realise that there were a lot of childlike tactics used in that people in politics throw their toys out of their boxes a lot.

The one thing I have started to do quite recently is to see things more objectively- I believe this partly due to having attended these two events and also due to the degree I am currently undertaking, as well as time spent studying in Sweden. I am attempting and most of the time looking above the clouds filled with drama so that I can recognise the real enemy and the real issue. I think we spend too much time being bogged down by the fake enemy and end up spending too much time on things that won't really solve the problem; we often ignore the root cause. It's like gardening- there's no point cutting down the weeds, there's just keep growing, we have to pull at the roots. The event has taught me that there can be so many different solutions to the many problems people face in Cambridge, and yet I wonder why is it that the changes aren't being made. Of course it depends quite a lot on the politics and the agendas of those with power but I believe that with enough pressure, we can make those with power accountable, and ensure that our solutions for our communities are heard. And really, I think this is what Be The Change Cambridge is trying to do. I'll keep helping, supporting, and taking part in their future events, and if you want to really make a difference in the world, I believe going to their events is a good place to start.

Until next time,
Sen x

You can find me on:
Twitter: @senlanoire

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