Thursday, 31 May 2012

Encouraging activity not passivity at events

Imagine you are trying to encourage a community to be proactive, to be participative and to be innovative. What kind of events would you hold?

Would they be ones where the audience sits passively and listens to speakers or artists?

Or would they be ones where the audience actively participates in innovative activities that capture the imagination?

Something of a no-brainer, don't you think?

Soooooo, what kind things might qualify as being "innovative". To consider this question, BFTF has metaphorically let its imagination out of the stable to gallop freely in the field of possibilities and come up with a few starting suggestions. . .

The Big Line Of Coins
Somewhat embarrasingly, the first item in the list has been shamelessly nicked from an event that a local primary school held a year or two ago. Very simply, they asked the children to bring spare change and see how long a line of coins they could collectively make. And the results were impressive, with a line of coins snaking back and forth across the hall - and all the money going towards school funds!

BFTF imagines that it would be great fun to do something similar at a Muslim community event. One can imagine the sense of participation and of actually DOING something that it would create. And it would make a great news story too!

Imagine a line of coins snaking back and forth - how cool would that be !

The Big Campaign
Ok, we all know that there are bad things going on in the world - but practically, what we do?

On way of increasing awareness of how people can lobby against injustices is to give examples and suggest the people pick one (or something similar of their own choosing) to lobby on.

Perhaps a range of choices could be given from local (e.g. council efficiency) national (e.g. NHS cutbacks and privatisation) or international (lobbying against oppression in countries such as Syria)

The Big Survey
In the experience of BFTF, mosques and community centres do not generally ask the opinions of those who use their facilities - if they did, we would not be in the situation where, for the last 20 years, the younger generation have been crying out for sermons to be delivered in English while many mosques resolutely continue to give their sermons in Urdu.

But anyway, wouldn't it be great if the Muslim community was actually given the opportunity to say what they thought, and for these views to be visible for all to see.

For example, an event could have a thumping big board with a set of options, and the people at the event could slap a post-it on the options to say how important they thought they were. People could be asked what they thought mosques should be focussing on, or whether they think mosques and community centres are doing a good job in various areas, or what kind of campaigns, if any, people wanted to see mosques getting involved in . .

An example of a big board with questions that people could answer by slapping on a post-it

The Big Art
There are, of course, lots of options when it comes to art - but it is a bit harder if you want to choose something that can be undertaken collaboratively, is inclusive of children, can be spread out over a day and is not messy.

One possibility that fulfils these criteria is to have a big map of the area around the event and ask people and children to find the road that they live on an draw a picture of their houses on it - could turn out to be a genuinely interesting piece of artwork once a few dozen people / children have added their input.

The Big Award
It's easy to whinge an whine - but much harder to take the time out to give recognition to those who are doing a good job or giving a lot of their time to voluntary activities - so perhaps people could be asked who should get an award for "service of the year" - Police, Ambulances, Fire etc.

Or people could vote for the media outliet that they think gives the most unbiased news.

Or for the school they think is the best in the city.

BFTF thinks this would be a great talking point, and the results of the excersise something that people could use to challenge (or congratulate) their local mosque or community centre. Potentially, it would also give the community the beginnings of a sense of genuinely being stakeholders in the policies of community organisatiosn

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