At the joint CyclingUK and Cyclenation conference this year, after Katherine Nield, of ClientEarth, has given the opening speech, we will be discussing "Everyone is an advocate." Now, you may or may not have noticed that I have changed the name of the conference from Cyclenation and CyclingUK campaigners' conference to joint conference (to be honest, I think most of you haven't noticed). There were a couple of moments that pushed me to this: a couple of weeks back, someone told me that other Push Bikes members had asked if this conference was for them, because, you know, they weren't actually doing the campaigning (despite doing plenty of other things for Push Bikes); and then this week, another transport campaign who'll remain nameless said that sharing the conference details on their page wouldn't appeal to their audience, because their readers aren't campaigners.
Here's the problem that we often have: How do we make campaigning welcoming and accessible to new people?
Now, I'm a political animal; I've never comprehended the idea that campaigning is something that someone might not want to do or might not enjoy doing. And perhaps many of the people who traditionally have come along to these conferences feels the same way as I do. But we're a small minority of the population, and most people simply don't want to get involved in the sort of stuff that it is imagined campaigning consists of. And I should admit again, I love reading highways consultations, looking at plans and writing letters to the council, but I get to do so much of that sort of campaigning because it isn't something that many other people enjoy. So when someone new approaches Push Bikes and says "I want to help out, what can I do?", I have to admit I get kind of lost. Few people want to spend their time in meetings and pouring other consultations, but often my head is so full of those things that I lose sight of the other ways that people can engage with campaigning.
When new people come to a Push Bikes meeting, I find it difficult to help them to engage in the meeting and to understand how they can fit in and be a valuable part of the group (especially if they have limited time). Maybe we can crowd-source some solutions for me, or maybe not.
So, this is the opening panel discussion: "Everyone is an advocate" #cycleadvocate
('advocate' sounds more accessible, and is easier to spell in a hashtag, so I've gone with that)
Some questions that you might answer, to start the discussion.
- What small quick actions do you think are useful for campaigning?
- How can people fit easy campaigning actions into their daily lives?
- What does 'advocate' or 'campaigner' mean to you?
- Do you need any specialist knowledge or skills to be an advocate?
- How can we help people to see themselves as an advocate?
- What do traditional campaigners often forget in encouraging other people to campaign?
- How are you an advocate for cycling in your daily life?
- How did you advocate for cycling yesterday? Last week?
- How did you start advocating for cycling? What was your first bit of advocacy?
The hashtag for the opening discussion is #cycleadvocate and for the whole conference is #CNconf18