Community Engagement Meeting 2010-03-23


  • Strategy
    • Why do we want to ‘engage with the community’?
    • Thoughts and concerns: Considering the strategy outlined at the strategy day and the previous discussion.
    • Highlighting and (briefly) exploring the differences and clashes between our thoughts and priorities
    • A written stement of aims
  • Community Action Gathering in Nottingham on Saturday
  • Temple Cowley Pools
  • Next meeting


Action Points

  • Jake to write up these minutes
  • Jake to write the first draft of the ‘statement of aims of the community engagement working group’
  • Jake to put up the 4 ‘potential clashes’ up on crabgrass for discussion
  • Carl to book room for the next meeting on tuesday 30th and send out a reminder email for that meeting (there appears to be a clash for this date in OARC, as yet unresolved)
  • Hannah to feedback from the community action gathering.


Why do we want to ‘engage with the community’?

A ‘go round’ of the group explaining why we each thought that ‘engaging with the community’ is important and why we should do it:

  • An effective way of building our capacity -of TVCA numbers, skills and people with time available
  • Getting to know other groups without our own agenda, but being careful not to stretch ourself (issues like Temple Cowley Pools was brought up here as something we should be carful of: not tryint to get involved in every local campaign)
  • Enjoyable: We are the community so this kind of activity is to expand our sense of self
  • Engage with: frustration at contantly trying to get people to come to us and do what we want the to do. Wants to move towards learning from others.
  • Helping others to organise (if they need it), and in turn being helped by others
  • With governments having trouble spending any money for years to come (since they bailed out the banks) there will be much social unrest. This is a good opportunity for us, and so we should be engaging with the public during these times
  • Social change needs engagement of one form or another from everyone from all walks of life and in every community. ‘The movement’ is quite resricted in these terms at the moment and so ‘engaging with the community’ is important, and neccesary if we want the kind of socail change that we need (to avoid catastrophic climate change and continued social injusticies…)
  • If we succesfully shut down an industry such as coal, this will cause unemployemt. It is important to engage with these issues and the people it will effect.
  • A large number of people are apathetic to any politics or social injusticies and an effort needs to be made to engage with them if we want wide scale social change.
  • Intrests in commmunity projects (such as independent radio stations)
  • Having a greater diversity of people on actions will make us more effective
  • We currently have problems and sometimes lack of effort communicating with, for example, the workers at a power station we are shutting down
  • Need a wider engagement with a greater diversity of people for ligitimacy and to be representative (of ‘the people’)
  • ‘Engaging with the community’ offers lots of non-arrestable activism
  • Lots of echoing around the idea of learning from others. And about not holding onto our views so strongly that we don’t learn and adapt.

Thoughts and concerns

Considering the strategy outlined at the strategy day and the previous discussion.

Thoughts and concerns raised when the ‘community engagement strategy’ was presented to the TVCA meeting last week:

  • Can we act in solidarity with other groups and still maintain our identiy and values?
  • Don’t want to become a ‘rent-a-mob’
  • Need clearer aims
  • Do we have the capacity to do this and continue our other projects and priorities?
  • Need over-arching aims
  • Can create networks rather then getting involved in other struggles
  • Putting a human face on us (….? i don’t understand this, if you do can you click edit and ellaborate please?)

Additional issues and thoughts brought up at this meeting:

  • Echoes of the worry of becoming a ‘rent-a-mob’
  • Echoes of the worry of losing identity and values by going out and helping other groups who may not share our values and aims.
  • Is this the role of TVCA? aren’t we a direct action group?
    • There is lots of energy for it within TVCA, evident at the Thames Valley Gathering, at the strategy day and the fact that there are people at this meeting and others who think it is important.
    • These activities parallel direct action in there longer term aims.
    • Education and movement building are within the stated aims of climate camp.


Highlighting and (briefly) exploring the differences and clashes between our thoughts and priorities

Noticed a potential clash between :

  1. Helping others without our own agenda + Keeping our identity and values
    • Gestures of help don’t need to compramise values.
    • People can then get involved in other groups in their own individual capacity and not comparamise anything for TVCA
    • We can go along to other groups meetings and activites and learn from them without compramising anything for TVCA
  2. Doing things now — not stretching our capacity with ‘community engagement’ and ‘movement building’ vs.
    Being able to do more later -having built our capacity through ‘community engagement’ and ‘movement building’
  3. Going to meeting and helping individual campaigns vs. long term engagement
  4. Having strong set of tactics and values vs. learning and changing our ideas

Can respond to all of this by:

  • ‘Engaging with the community’ through a concrete campaign e.g. Didcot or Oxford airport expansion.
  • This is less wishy washy, doesn’t bring up questions of our values but does give us the opportunity to listen, learn from and engage with local communites through how the issue affects them.
    • Issue-based means that there is no consistent and long term strategy and ‘engagement with the community’.
    • What about all the people that don’t ‘live near Didcot’ (or equivalent)? Surely important to engage with them also?
  • Engaging with people through one of our campaigns which effects people in different ways could be very effective, and could undercut some of the problems highlighted above but should be PART OF a wider ongoing longer-term strategy of engagement, also engaging people who ’don’t live near Didcot’

A written statement of aims:

  • Why do we need a written statement of aims?
    • Lots of people brought it up as an issue at the last TVCA meeting (above)
    • Allows us to turn the rather vague term of ‘community engagement’ into something more concrete and achievable.
    • Gives us something to explain to others and other groups what it is we are trying to do, that is more than just our personal view but an agreed upon statement from the group.

PROPOSAL that someone writes up a first draft of the ‘statement of aims of the community engagement working group’. This would be discussed by the whole group over crabgrass and at the next meeting. There is no intention of having an absolute concrete immovable statement of aims, but rather a work in progress and an ongoing discussion.

REACHED CONCENSUS — Jake took on writing the first draft.

PROPOSAL that we don’t feel it nessessary to reach complete resolution of the 4 ‘potential clashes’ (above), but instead that we are constantly aware of them and that these are ongoing discussions on crabgrass and at meetings whenever approportiate.


Community Action Gathering

  • There is a UK-wide ‘community action gathering’ in Nottingham on Saturday. This is the first gathering of this group. Their aims seem to be very related and similar to ours (although without the emphasis on climate change). What kind of involvement should we have with it, if any?
  • Hannah is going to this.

PROPOSAL that we wait for feedback from Hannah and then we can decide how to take foward our involvement, if any, with the community action group.


Closure of Temple Cowley Pools

E-mail to Oxford account:

I think all your themes are valid and should be pursued in some way, and I’d like to highlight the one on ‘solidarity with other struggles’. In relation to the local community, especially in East Oxford and Cowley Road area, the threatened closure of Temple Cowley Pools is looming. A focus for the local community, supporting many disadvantaged people, its destruction and replacement in Blackbird Leys will have a large and immediate as well as ongoing effect on ghg emissions in the area (carbon footprint of current/future building demolition/construction, more and unnecessary travel, replacement with unnecessary/inappropriate housing etc). The council needs convincing that an eco-refurbishment is the way to go, and the Support Group would appreciate any help and active involvement from you/us.
  • Don’t really have enough information to say how or if we can get involved
  • Could oragnise a skill share on direct action and occupation with them

PROPOSAL that we don’t have enough information so we should invite someone who is involved in this issue along to one of our community engagement meetings and go from there.


Next meetings

  • Do we need to meet every week?
  • It has been suggested that TVCA meets every two weeks, and that working groups meet in the time in between. So we could make temporary plans and then decide depending on how that pans out

PROPOSAL to have another community engagement working group meeting, next Tuesday 30th at 7pm

CONCENSUS REACHED — Carl to book the room and be a key holder for the meeting.

It has since been found out that there is a clash (with Low carbon east oxford) in OARC for that time, as yet no resolution

Thanks J. Good minutes – I get a good sense of what went on without being there.

How many people were at the meeting? I wonder if we should start putting this on all TVCA minutes? It would give some sense of how much energy there was within the different meetings. Having said that, it would be a very rough indicator (e.g. the comms working group has been attended by 3 then 4 people in it’s two meetings, but there’s a lot of energy in the group).


@Graham I can remember at least 6 people who came, but I think there were around 8-10 (sorry to those who I can’t remember!). I agree about recording number of people at meetings; between that and the action points, I think you can get a good idea of energy levels or general “goodness” of a meeting.