Earlier this year I had the chance to meet up with Jon Alexander. Jon is a driving force behind New Citizenship Project and #citizenshift. In our conversation we discussed the potential for our new Metro Mayors in the UK to help lead and facilitate a different way of doing things, better acknowledging the role of citizens as agents of change and supporting greater participation. Jon shared the ‘3 things for Calgary’ campaign by Canadian Mayor Naheed Nenshi as a campaign ‘every new mayor should steal with pride!’
“It’s about creating an ongoing movement and motivation for citizenship, based on the understanding that citizenship is nothing to do with the piece of paper that you may or may not have from the government: it has to do with your participation.” – Nenshi
As Jon Alexander writes in his recent article on Nenshi’s campaign, “it’s about celebrating what he knows full well people are already doing for each other, for their communities, and for the city as a whole, but maybe keeping to themselves. He’s giving them permission and validation both to shout about it and to do just a little bit more.
This openness is worth emphasising: it’s not about specific actions dictated or arranged by the city, but about whatever each individual is doing and wants to do.”
‘3 things for Calgary’ is a good example of how a simple campaign can help amplify, celebrate and inspire people-power and change the relationship between our political leaders and citizens from one of ‘working for’ to ‘working with’. A week after Jon and I met in MCRThinkRise, the Manchester arena attack took place, devastating lives and shaking the very core of the city. In the midst of tragedy we saw a very real, moving and powerful example of the community spirit Nenshi’s campaign appealed to. A people-led campaign against the fear and hate the attack sought to create, to include millions of personal acts of human kindness.
Two months on, a few of us have decided to initiate a small, bitesized #4things4GM campaign through our M4 network. With a small, but perfectly formed, launch at an event on Wednesday, we are asking people to share:
1. Something they will do for themselves
2. Something they will do for someone else
3. Something they will do for the community
4. Something they will do for the movement
Here are my #4things4GM and some of those shared so far, including Jacob, my 9 year old son who was inspired by the photos to do his own.
We’d love you to join us and to help spread and share in recognition and celebration of all the things people do as citizens to make Greater Manchester a good place to live, work, care, study and play. And for further inspiration, check out this report by my friend and co-conspirator at M4, Clare Devaney for the RSA providing a human centred vision for cities, citizenship, participation & growth.