Last weekend (15th-17th of September), the CAG Oxfordshire Project team attended the Offline Festival. Organised by Project Dirt, Power to Change and Eden Project Communities, Offline was an ‘un-conference’ with a festival vibe.
The days were packed with panel discussions and workshops and the evenings with music and dancing in a muddy field! It was also a great chance for the community group, community businesses, social enterprises and other charities from London to Liverpool to network and share ideas.
The CAG Project Oxfordshire staff, Kerry, Beth and Alice, delivered a workshop entitled ‘Building your community group from scratch’ on Saturday showing participants the steps to turn a spark of an idea into a fully-fledged project. The workshop worked through a tool-kit of exercises that the participants could take back to their own groups to help them create their vision, engage their community and structure their group.
You can download the workbook for your own group on our website. The workshop also highlighted the amazing work being done to spread the CAG model in Devon and the aspirations to grow a wider national network.
Alice also joined Peter Lefort (Eden Project Communities), Julia Makin (City of London Open Spaces) and Amber Alferoff (Federation of City Farms and Community Gardens) on a panel to discuss engaging and supporting volunteers to avoid burn-out. Some interesting conversations were started around a multitude of topics including: the balance between retaining and moving on volunteers to future development opportunities; the importance of discovering volunteers’ motivations; and the provision of support structures and role clarity for volunteers.
Other highlights included:
- Hearing the highs and lows from the founders of the Library of Things, a resource library in London
- Delving into the theory behind how to build networks and movement with the Social Change Agency
- Practicing finding, telling and sharing stories about our projects in some interactive workshops with the Eden Project Communities
- Hearing Oxfordshire’s food waste warrior Anna Pitt talking about her new book Leftover Pie
- Watching the amazing Project Wild Thing Film and hearing from David Bond, Nature Nuture and Sylvan Adventures about the power of the outdoors to inspire the next generation
- Finding out about how to fund community groups and social enterprises from Power to Change, Co-ops UK, Crowdfunder UK and the Funding Doctor.
- Learning where to start with community energy projects with Community Energy England and Unisolar.
- And of course, dancing into the evening with the Ceilidh Liberation Front!
The festival was a great opportunity for the CAG Project to be part of a growing national movement of community organisations and business. There will be plenty of exciting connections to follow-up on for what we hope will prove to be future collaborations.