The Talk About Local team biographies.
Community activist and former civil servant, despite a deeply rural upbringing I lived for ten of the last 15 years in London’s troubled Kings Cross district. The problems on my doorstep were so profound I got stuck into community action and eventually set up a website to keep track of what was going on www.kingscrossenvironment.com. The site now has over 1100 articles, five volunteer writers and is an indispensible part of the local civic scene. We used the site to help fight some great campaigns, improve the area and help people connect with each other – what the wonks call ‘bridging social capital’. I set up Talk About Local to help spread the benefits of a good, simple, cheap community site to as many areas as possible.
My civil service career was fantastically varied – from the DTI to Downing Street. I was Private Secretary and Policy advisor to Prime Minister Tony Blair, Chair of the OECD Expert Group on e-government, I commissioned and delivered the Power of Information work that kicked off government interest in open data and as one of the creators of OFCOM I remain interested in the media regulation scene. I remain politically neutral. My work in Kings Cross led to be sitting at the Cabinet table with Prime Minister Cameron to launch the big society agenda in May 2010 and I now work with the Cabinet Office to advise them on how the web can help the Office of Civil Society deliver its agenda. I am also a trustee of the Indigo Trust, where we make grants to help people find or create the information they need to make their lives better – mainly in Africa.
I hold two current public appointments or a sort – I sit on the Local Public Data Panel for CLG and the Crime and Justice Sector Transparency Panel. For the previous government I was a member of the selection panel for the Independently Funded News Consortia.
I try to stay sane by walking in the countryside when I can – I have done 600 miles of the South West Coast path carrying a tent and hope to finish it one day. I enjoy film, literature architecture and rugby.
From May 2008 until December 2011 I managed Digbeth is Good, a popular Birmingham hyperlocal website for a central urban area that comprises light industry, the Irish Quarter, an emerging creative and cultural scene and extensive regeneration.
It kept me incredibly busy with highlighting artistic happenings, bringing offline activity to a wider audience, discussing the growth and divides of a disparate community and creatively exploring the neighbourhood until January 2012, when I moved back to my hometown of Cardiff, where I now help organise regular Canton Social Media Surgeries.
I joined talk about local in August 2009 – recruiting, training and working with IT trainers and active citizens across the UK to help them create and develop simple yet effective community websites. I have also become increasingly interested in ways of using storytelling and game-playing within communities to tell their stories and effect positive change, facilitating this creativity in others through Talk About Local.
In October 2011 I hosted Storycamp, an event that brought together digital storytellers, independent publishers, those involved in local government, community groups and websites and beyond to share stories and ways and means of telling them.
I am currently overseeing Talk About Local’s Networking for Work project, helping jobseekers to take control of their online profiles and look their best online.
I have spoken at conferences and events such as Creativity and Place 2010 (University of Exeter), A New Currency: Multiplatform Storytelling and Social Capital (The Producers’ Forum), Hello Business 2010, Borderlines Film Festival 2010, Greenbelt Festival 2011 and The Guardian Open Weekend 2012.
I’ve been involved in online publishing since 2000 and have worked for various mainstream news organisations in areas of digital engagement, community development and online content creation. (More on that at Linkedin )
An active blogger and participant in social networks I’ve made connections with many individuals and groups involved in the sort of independent community publishing that’s often referred to as ‘hyperlocal’. Also, as community strategist for Guardian Media Group I’m working with digital tools and technologies which help people connect and share.
I first got involved with Talk About Local via my work on The Guardian’s Local initiative and happily found this team of dedicated people with similar experiences of the value of networked neighbourhoods and digital engagement in communities.
I’m based in the north of England, have a tendency for new tech geekiness and sometimes fancy myself as a bit of a foodie.
I moved from Manchester to Stoke-on-Trent 12 years ago.
I have been using the internet since 1995. I love social media and the freedoms that is gives people, allowing them to have that all important voice on-line. Social media is not the cure all or silver bullet for all the problems a person or an area may have, but used correctly it can amplify the more traditional forms of social & civic activism to help get things done.
At Talk About Local I specialise in the technical aspects of social media and on-line moderation of contentious & difficult situations.
I have spoken at conferences on subjects such as the benefits of Social Media, DIY Democracy & Citizen Journalism.
Away from Talk About Local, I am a partner in the Stoke-on-Trent political blog, pitsnpots.co.uk where we scrutinise the City Council and the political news in the City. I am an occasional radio presenter, I take an awful lot of pictures and being originally from Manchester, I am a dyed in the wool Manchester City fan.
I split my time between the West Midlands & Scotland.
Click to find out more about.me.
Born to two explorer geologists I grew up all over the world (generally with a fossil hammer in hand) before settling back in Cambridge in my early teens. My working life (how grown up) has taken me from rural China (working on community integration with Schlumberger), to the Australian Outback (teaching in an Aboriginal school and working on a tourism project in Coober Pedy), California and rural France. 11 years ago I settled back in Cambridge and started working with small communities and the internet.
I helped to start UKVillages.co.uk in early 2000, a site which provided pages / micro sites for every one of the 31,000 + communities throughout the UK, during this time I also designed and judged the Calor Village of the Year IT category award and worked with many national and local projects including HRH The Prince of Wales the Pub is the Hub initiative and work with the National Association of Local Councils.
I became increasingly passionate about local and increasingly cross about the amount of money wasted on internet / website projects by central and local government and by the amount that various cowboy firms were charging tiny local communities to set up simple sites. Work took me across all levels of Government and into the corporate world where I forged a long standing partnership for UKVillages with The Post Office. This in turn led me to work with many small local businesses and social enterprises.
I currently work on a freelance basis with Talk About Local and various other transformative organisations always aiming to empower local communities, to give the ‘little guy’ a voice and to have fun.
I sit on the Friends of Stourbridge Common in Cambridge http://stourbridgecommon.wordpress.com, I do the social media for BBC Today programme’s John Humphrys and his charity the Kitchen Table Charities Trust, I am a fellow of the RSA, I am on the committee of the British Antarctic Survey Club (in memory of my father), I have delivered lectures to the Cambridge University MBA students on social media and fund raising, I help people understand the benefits of social media and am currently learning all about the complexities of being pregnant and over 45 http://www.crazypregnantperson.wordpress.com.
Inspired by my love of social media and the work of Talk About Local, I set up my own hyper local blog for my community which consists of about 300 residents. Talk About Local helped me in setting up, running the site and gave me advice. I joined the team in December 2010. My job involves supporting and organising the Talk About Local training partners in community centres and libraries all over the country; on the phone, by email or skype and in person.
As well as running my hyper local blog, I run a larger online community project call the 4am Project. It’s a global photography project whose aim is to encourage worldwide social collaboration to capture a view of the world at the often unseen time of 4am. I run the Birmingham Social Media Cafe, which is a networking event for people who use social media for work or play. In my spare time I take photography commissions and also write a ‘life’ blog where I share my interests in work and play.
My work at Talk About Local combines my love of social media with my interest in building online communities.
You can find out more about me here.
I work part-time for Talk About Local, mainly trying to develop resources that will help make new bloggers’ journey smoother and widen awareness of the range of free tools at our fingertips and the clever ways people use them. I also help out with unconferences, webinars and workshops. I’m passionate about the communities that are sometimes left voiceless and love discovering the small, the hidden and the new.
My background is in print journalism and I spent many a sleepless night putting to bed publications for students in London, Quakers and the communities of Northern Stoke-on-Trent, all the while experimenting with ways of using the internet to connect communities locally and globally. I also manage community education programmes for the Workers’ Educational Association in North Staffordshire and blog in places including Social Stoke, White Llama and Visit Burslem.