This has been quite a week for us. We’ve been pretty much overwhelmed by the response to Jon’s Radio 4 Four Thought on Wednesday evening.
Out of the response, we’ve noticed two things in particular.
First, pretty much no one disagrees. We’ve had next to no trolling or angry stone-throwing, and we know that a hugely diverse range of people, many of whom have very strong opinions, have heard it. Which is great. But…
Second, it comes across (as one person succinctly put it on twitter) as “a bit of a downer.”
And that’s a real shame, because to our minds, this isn’t a bit of a downer. This is perhaps the greatest creative opportunity in history. When you think of people as Citizens, you see us as potential participants in shaping the context of our lives, people who can and will act and respond and express our multiple agency in fascinating and unpredictable ways – not just one-dimensional buying machines. And that’s a hell of a platform for idea generation.
We’ve got loads of ideas and projects of our own, and we’re working on how to share those and involve people in building them (we want to practise what we preach after all!).
But while we figure that out, we want to seize the moment and get a new conversation started.
This conversation is about spotting, celebrating and debating where the shift from Consumer to Citizen is happening already. Because it is. When you look, there are examples everywhere: from the famous ideas that we quote all the time (like Wikipedia, Loomio, or Tim Berners-Lee’s Web We Want campaign); to big corporations reinventing their business models and authentically serving communities (like B&Q with their StreetClub initiative, or Ovo’s Communities scheme); to NGOs and community initiatives that are moving from mobilising to organising (like Incredible Edible, and our amazing friends at GoodForNothing and ShareAction); and many more besides.
We call this #CitizenShift, and we’d love you to get involved. Leave a comment on this post, use #CitizenShift on twitter, or if you want to get involved in debating the finer points, join in the conversation on our New Citizens LinkedIn group.
What are we looking for? Anything and everything that YOU think embodies the shift from Consumer to Citizen that Jon talked about. Big or small. Public, private, third sector. UK or international. Theory or practice. Your pet project or something you saw on the news. There’s only one rule: let’s not be dogmatic. Let’s get the examples up there. If we disagree with each other, we can have the conversation. That’s what participation is, right?!