HGN people’s assembly signposts way forward

After the formal business of last week’s AGM, we held a people’s assembly to consider the question: What do members want / need from HGN over the next three years?

Putting the discussion in context, Kate Gathercole first explained that it is almost exactly ten years since a gathering of around 100 friends working in the Transition and wider green movement, met to establish a network in Herefordshire. Then, in 2016, HGN went from being a flat, members-run structure to having a steering group at the helm, with the aim of appealing to a wider audience in the county. 

As a result, the last three years have seen a professionalisation of HGN which has led to many brilliant projects and events – including The Great Collaboration which has enormous potential to help create a zero carbon Herefordshire – but it has also perhaps meant that the ‘organisation’ has lost contact with its members. So now seems a good time to ask again: who are we? And what do we want from our network?

Facilitated very ably by Kristina Jamieson – who has honed her skills through her engagement with Extinction Rebellion – the meeting split into four groups to discuss the question, using the guidelines and hand signals that XR people’s assemblies are based on. About half way through the allotted time, each group was encouraged to agree on three main points and then come back together and share them with the wider group. The collective response of the whole group to those points – again, communicated via hand signals – indicated which of them might be taken forward as priorities for the Network.

Group 1

  • HGN to act as an umbrella, for networking and communicating; spreading best practice; adding capacity, sharing ideas; help people get going;
  • Action / doing. Push forward what is happening with The Great Collaboration and make it pay dividends;
  • New things – help new ideas get going as people and new groups emerge; have ways to get people on the ground moving.

Group 2

  • Reaching out further, promoting higher profile throughout county. Two-way communication – not just sending out, having info coming in.
  • Supporting groups / businesses using expertise, eg. via HGN accreditation scheme.
  • Offering groups a simplified professional support to achieve their goals.

Group 3

  • It is important that we are collaborative and open, inclusive and non-political.
  • Official hosting of bureaucratic functions for members – practical support, shared learning.
  • Facilitating better ‘internal’ communications between members.

Group 4

  • Clarity helping people know what they can do and how to do it. Not just mitigation but also adaptation and resilience.
  • How do we work with and support the Council;
  • Support the network, and capture information and skills of members.

SUMMARY POINTS

The points that were most enthusiastically received were:

  • Doing things / action – for example, The Great Collaboration
  • Professional/practical support, using members’ expertise; helping people to get started
  • Members’ skills audit / directory
  • Strategic dialogue with Herefordshire Council
  • Communication – both internal (member to member) and external

NEXT STEPS

The new Steering Group will take these ideas and feed them into the job description for the new administrator, and the Great Collaboration project. The ideas will also be discussed at the next HGN Members’ Meeting, on Wednesday 22 January at 5.30pm. PLEASE put this date into your new 2020 diaries! We’d like to see and hear from as many of you as possible, to help steer the next dynamic phase of HGN.

Finally, many thanks to Kristina for steering us through the people’s assembly process so brilliantly, and to David Gillam for acting as note-taker.

Facilitator Kristina Jamieson explains how a people’s assembly works…

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