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We brought people together to develop our strategy Camden 2025 as a vision for the future but also a call to action. We developed the strategy with residents through our citizens assemblies and with anchor institutions that care about the borough through our community challenges.
The climate crisis is an issue that affects all of us and that we all have a role to play as individuals and as organisations. We developed a Citizens’ Assembly on the Climate Crisis which is was the first organised in the country. This brought together over 50 randomly selected residents to deliberate how Camden can best tackle the climate crisis. The assembly heard a range of evidence outlining the facts of the climate crisis and the ways in which it can be tackled. They then developed 17 actions that should be taken by residents, community groups, businesses and the council in Camden. And of one those was “mobilising community groups to address the climate crisis”.
That’s why we’re hosting a space where people will be able to take part in, develop & grow activities to help people live more sustainably…and tackle the climate crisis. As we’re in a climate emergency, we gave ourselves a fortnight to set it up and six weeks to test out, a way that we’re moving from building services to building movements. And when I say we, I don’t mean the council, I mean different individuals from different walks of live who care about Camden and the climate crisis.
Camden 2025 brought people together to not only develop a vision for the future and a call to action. The climate crisis is an issue that affects all of us where we all have a role to play.
As a result, the Council developed a Citizens’ Assembly on the Climate Crisis which brought together residents to develop 17 proposals to tackle this issue. One of these proposals was how do we mobilise communities at a neighbourhood level to be greener. At the time, the head of participation was leaving and I agreed to take forward the work. The Leader of the Council and a key local leader on climate issues wanted us to develop a pop up space to run local activities. I quickly connected with them and the Head of Sustainability to develop a plan for how we would work with local communities to make this happen.
I developed a mission statement that the space would help people take part in, run & grow activities that mobilise people to tackle the climate crisis, as well as a set of outcomes, activities & measures of success.
I developed these as a “user journey” from the space benefiting people who pop into the space out of curiosity through to developing projects with others that directly improve the environment. These outcomes were, people become more aware and involved in actions to tackle the climate crisis, people feel more connected as a result of meeting others in the space, activities helping tackle the climate crisis in the space increase their reach & impact, new projects are developed between people to tackle the climate crisis and relationships are strengthened between groups tackling the climate crisis. This journey helped people understand how they could get involved and helped staff & partners support people increase their participation as a result of taking part in an activity. I then organised a workshop. Most importantly it ensured we focused our efforts as much on the space & activities making everyone feel like they could contribute as it was on getting people to develop projects together that have impact on the ground.
As we were given a month to set up the space, I persuaded different people not only in my team but across the organisation to help make this happen, from mobilising local groups, facilitating the co-design, finding a space and fitting it out to make it usable, promoting the activities to people and volunteering to host the space. As this project hadn’t been planned, I needed to convince people (and their managers/directors) to dedicate their time above their day jobs, by showing how important their contribution was, how we would value their expertise but also stretch the art of the possible and how fulfilling this could be for them to work in a more agile and collaborative way. Creating this shared sense of urgency and purpose helped achieve this, as well as agile innovative ways of working like weekly (and sometimes daily) sprints, being flexible in inviting people to contribute their expertise only when we needed them and induction sessions for people hosting the space.
I also created a shared sense of purpose & urgency when mobilising the local neighbourhood, by not only inviting them to shape the space and ideas, but bring their skills, resources & connections to the table in a very tangible and fulfilling way. In practice, that translated as getting people to make local furniture, children & artists to decorate the space, people to design ways to bring the walls to life, organisations to use their communications channels to spread the word to businesses donating everything from food to benches. To make the best use of people’s time, we had an introductory co-design session and then targeted sessions on specific themes, getting different people to lead these, so there could be collective ownership. To make sure this weren’t one-offs, I set up weekly “test & learn sessions” which are open to anyone to share what has gone well, what we need to improve now and what we could do differently in the future. Most importantly, I’ve got people to pledge what they will do themselves to improve the space and activities.
To make sure the programme of activities was both creative, open and focused on the outcomes, I got colleagues in the team to work with local communities to programme in a mix of activities that are easy to take part in and help people become more sustainable (from swapping & repairing clothes to cooking food together), activities that help take forward proposals from the Citizens Assembly (from developing creative ways to campaign on the climate crisis to going solar), to activities that help people grow & develop projects to tackle the climate crisis (through weekly Saturday hackathons as well as activities that help develop projects in particular ways, like storytelling, community mapping, craftivism). I wanted to make this as inclusive as possible, both in terms of diversity of background and thinking, so I did a call out to colleagues and my networks outside Camden who have strong relationship with communities from different cultures and groups who sometimes feel excluded from traditional community activities (like children, carers, single parent families) to run sessions (from campaigning in an intersectional way to carers circles).
The activities that people are running in the space will help people be more sustainable, whether it’s sessions to help people plant, sewing using disused clothes, making soup with children, repairing bikes, recycling decorations a walking tour.
The programme of activities has also been co-designed to build on the themes prioritised through the Citizens Assembly. We will also share a selection of proposals collected during the wider consultation of the Assembly through a wall display. The programme of activities has also been co-designed to build on the themes prioritised through the Citizens Assembly. Activities will be facilitated that help connect into the work that’s being taken forward from the 17 proposals agreed by the assembly.
We have thematised the programme to help people develop the thinking, energy & connections to develop, test & grow projects to tackle the climate crisis. We will be running specific sessions with groups to help people develop new projects or grow existing ones.
As I knew with experiments, that when you test quickly, it can be difficult to know how to respond to new opportunities or even issues we hadn’t thought of. So I got people to develop principles for the space that became the litmus test for any issue we hadn’t anticipated. It’s helped everyone understand how we make decisions and it’s helped people hold me to account for decisions I make, be that the community or staff. It’s helped us learn how we decide what is duty of care to residents and what is bureaucracy that we can challenge. It’s helped us and particular me make the best of people’s skills & time. This has resulted in me adjusting the people’s roles and responsibilities as we were clearer what was needed and what different skills people had, giving them leadership opportunities that got them working quickly and thinking creatively about their role (and creating products & toolkits that can be used in other projects). By also sensing what skills people in the community had and what they wanted to do, I’ve also been able to get more local people taking a leadership role in the space, while reducing the amount of effort staff have needed to put in.
When I took this project on, it was located in the participation team. I knew that participation isn’t sufficient on its own unless it’s rooted in a common cause people can get excited and mobilised around, and unless it’s rooted in a programme that has the infrastructure to take the outcomes forward. So I brought in the Head of Sustainability and Programme Director for Neighbourhoods so right from the start we could think how we made this sustainable – ensuring that what was created in the space could be connected into the local networks of the neighbourhood and of the environmental world, and that the activities, physical resources and thinking in the space could find a new home in Neighbourhoods after the experiment.
As a result of making sure we reached out to people with strong relationships in different communities, we have got hundreds of people taking part in activities, who’ve made new connections with people they haven’t met before. As I created mechanisms to help people work together in tangible & creative ways, we have projects which could have significant impact and are scaleable, from developing a schools programme to building a climate resilient estate, which all have teams of people working on them, with actionable deliverables. What I’ve learnt is that if you want to focus on the short & long term at the same time while you’re working at pace means you have to think & work out in the open, so you’re showing why you’re doing what you’re doing and creating seeds of ideas that people can build on and calls to action that people can respond to, which I’ve done through blogging and tweeting, and mobilising my networks within & outside of the borough. This has attracted people to want to run activities, develop Think & Do in their own areas/organisations (from Surrey to Selfridges), support the projects and showcase this as an example of why Camden’s an innovative place & council.
Think & Do - Emerging Lessons
Camden 2025: bringing people
together to develop a vision of
the future and a call to action
• Camden has a proud,
rebellious spirit that
throughout its history has
seen communities come
together to make change
• Camden 2025 sets out a
compelling vision for the
Council, citizens and
partners working together in
• The climate crisis is an issue
that affects all of us and that
we all have a role to play as
individuals and as
Citizens Assembly: bringing people
together to develop radical
proposals on the climate crisis
• We developed a Citizens’
Assembly on the Climate
• This brought together over
50 randomly selected
residents to deliberate how
Camden can best tackle the
• The assembly heard a range
of evidence outlining the
facts of the climate crisis and
the ways in which it can be
• They then developed 17
actions that should be taken
by residents, community
groups, businesses and the
council in Camden.
Think Do Camden: bringing people
together to test & learn ideas and
actions to tackle the climate crisis
• Building on from the
assembly, we are hosting a
space where people can take
part in, run & grow activities
that increase social action
around the climate crisis.
What do we want to achieve?
more aware and
actions to tackle
the climate crisis
People feel more
connected as a
result of meeting
others in the
tackle the climate
crisis in the space
reach & impact
New projects are
to tackle the
How will the
We will work with groups to explore ideas and run activities
that enable everyone to become more aware and involved in
actions to tackle the climate crisis
We will work with people to run activities that help connect
people from different backgrounds
We will invite groups tackling the climate crisis to run activities
in the space and promote them through our different networks
We will develop activities that help people develop different
types of projects to tackle the climate crisis
We will bring together groups tackling the climate crisis to co-
design the space and programme of activities
How are we co-
designing the space?
• The space is being run & designed in
a way that everyone can contribute,
connect, grow projects together and
share their skills.
• We ran workshops to co-design the
outcomes & get pledges from people
with activities they could run, skills &
resources they could share.
• We mobilised a group of residents to
develop the design & layout of the
• We run thematic co-design sessions
on communications, design and on a
weekly basis we look at what we’ve
learnt & need to improve.
What type of activities are
1. ACTIVITIES THAT ARE EASY TO
TAKE PART IN AND HELP PEOPLE
BECOME MORE SUSTAINABLE
2. ACTIVITIES THAT CONNECT TO
THE THEMES OF THE CITIZENS
ASSEMBLY ON THE CLIMATE
3. ACTIVITIES THAT HELP PEOPLE
TO GROW & DEVELOP PROJECTS
TO TACKLE THE CLIMATE CRISIS
1. Activities that are easy to take part in and
help people become more sustainable
I share & borrow
I eat & cook with others
I recycle and repair
I make new things
I discover my area
2. Activities that connect to the themes of
the Citizens Assembly on the Climate Crisis
Food Energy Transport Greening Awareness
3. Activities that help people develop &
grow projects to tackle the climate crisis
Week 2. Immersing
ourselves in the
Week 3. Seeking
Week 4. Developing
Week 5. Growing our
Week 6. Celebrating &
What are the principles of Think & Do Camden?
We welcome people to take
part whatever time, skills or
needs they have
We treat everyone involved
with dignity and respect
We value each other’s
perspectives & experiences
We help people become
more aware and involved in
actions to tackle the climate
We connect with people
from different backgrounds
We collaborate and learn
from each other
We help people be creative
& innovative in tackling the
We are open & honest and
challenge ourselves to
improve the space
How are the Council hosting the space?
The space is being managed by the Council with a minimum of two council officers present and the space being
It is open from 10am to 8pm from Thursdays-Saturdays
Council officers welcome people into the space, help them get involved in the activities and run certain co-design
Council officers have been given guides & induction sessions to learn how to host & document
Groups have been invited to run activities in the space in agreement with the principles of the space
People visiting the space and running activities are invited to feedback on their experience to help improve the
What will be the measures of success?
People become more aware and involved in actions to tackle the climate crisis as a result of
visiting the space
People have increased connections with people from other backgrounds as a result of visiting
Groups tackling the climate crisis see the number of people involved in their activities increase
New ideas and projects are developed within the space and people feel they are able to
Groups tackling the climate crisis feel they are working better together and have been able to
influence the space & programme
What have we learnt so far?
Creating a shared sense of
purpose & urgency helps
mobilise staff who have
specialist expertise we need
Making the best of people’s
skills & time means we’ve
needed to adjust what
different staff (and
residents) are responsible
Participation isn’t sufficient
on its own without people
who can take forward the
impact beyond the 6 week
Balancing the need to
ensure compliance with
enabling the community to
take the lead creates
challenges & opportunities
Thinking about the long-
term benefits whilst
working at such a fast pace
means you have to think &
work out in the open
Showing the co-design
we’re doing mobilises
people & organisations
beyond the environmental
sector to want to “think &
do” in Camden
What could happen
after Think & Do?
• Evaluate impact & share learning of Think &
• Develop model for how other
neighbourhoods/areas can adapt Think & Do
• Develop offer for organisations to run Think
& Do in their spaces
• Connect projects developed with local
• Prioritise working with those projects
developed at T&D that build on Citizens
• Connect up projects in Camden using space
to support collaboration to identify
opportunities to work together