Updated: May 28
31 lessons from founding, leading and championing community-based projects
Throughout August 2020, I used my Twitter page to share one lesson each day I've learned from founding, leading and championing community-based projects. The aim is to share what's worked (and what hasn't), to help more people get started at turning their ideas into reality.
There's no obligation at all, but if you've appreciated this resource and would like to buy me a coffee, you can do so via https://www.buymeacoffee.com/kathrynwelch.
DAY 1: START FIRST, THEN REFINE.
Don't wait for your idea to be perfect before you get started. Just be really open about inviting suggestions, and commit to making things better and better as you go.
DAY 2 - BEG. BORROW. TRADE. MAKE.
Resist spending money till you have to. Not only does thrift make your project more feasible, asking for help will build your networks.
DAY 3 - BE A BIT SHIT.
(Stella Duffy speaks so powerfully about this). It's hard for others to get involved in something that's perfect. Leave it rough around the edges, & invite others to finish it with you.
DAY 4 - FIND CO-CONSPIRATORS. Look for people who share your energy and excitement. Their enthusiasm will create a wave to take your idea onto the next level.
DAY 5 - SAY YES TO IDEAS.
Hold your ideas lightly! Let others in to help shape them - create a space for new suggestions to be enthusiastically welcomed.
DAY 6 - MAKE IT FUN.
People like doing good, but they really like having fun. Cake, music, wine. Doing good doesn't have to be serious and worthy.
DAY 7 - FUNDING: PROCEED WITH CAUTION.
More isn't always better. It changes things - power, flexibility, control, obligation. Don't chase the money - be really sure it's right for you.
DAY 8 - TAKE DECENT PHOTOS.
So easy to overlook or underestimate, but makes a huge difference in helping to tell the story of what's going on.
DAY 9 - FIND THE AMPLIFIERS.
There are key people in a community who everyone looks to for info. Pub landlady, vicar, person who runs the Post Office. Recruit them to your cause!
DAY 10 - KNOW YOUR NON-NEGOTIABLES.
Being really clear about your values gives you a framework to assess new opportunities against. Non-negotiables help you embrace new ideas without going (too) off-piste.
DAY 11 - SHARE YOUR PROBLEMS.
People love to be helpful. Don't pretend you're on top of everything - shout about the knotty problems and encourage people to help out with finding the solutions.
DAY 12 - SHARE DECISION MAKING.
On big, important topics, as well as the small everyday things. Make it easy for everyone's voice to be heard, and be transparent about how decisions have been made.
DAY 13 - WATCH OUT FOR THOSE ON THE SIDELINES.
Some people need a helping hand to feel able to get involved. Keep an eye out for those who need the warmest of welcomes.
DAY 14 - MAKE SURE YOU REALLY CARE.
Community projects can be energy- and emotion- hungry, Be picky about what you commit to - you'll need that passion to see you through.
DAY 15 - BE AN OPTIMIST.
Dare to dream big! Believe that brilliant things are absolutely possible and assume the best of people and ideas.
DAY 16 - BACK YOURSELF.
Especially at the outset, you might need to be a bit braver than you really are. Screw your courage to the sticking place - you *can* do this!
DAY 17 - LOOK AFTER YOURSELF.
You don't need to be a hero or a martyr. Take breaks, have time off, delegate. It's a marathon, not a sprint.
DAY 18 - DOUBLE UP YOUR IMPACT.
Can you achieve more, without doing more? How can you piggy-back extra goodness on the effort you're already putting in?
DAY 19 - SHOW YOUR WORKINGS.
Transparency is not only ethically important - it also helps others appreciate how things work, where the struggles are, and how they can help.
DAY 20 - LEARN FROM OTHERS.
You're unlikely to be totally re-inventing the wheel. Reach out to those who've done something similar - what is there to learn?
DAY 21 - BUILD UNEXPECTED PARTNERSHIPS.
Some of the most precious collaborations are with groups totally unlike yours. Broaden your ideas about who might have something to add.
DAY 22 - EXPECT SOME PEOPLE NOT TO LIKE IT (OR YOU).
Many of the most effective plans will meet with opposition. Not everyone has to love you or your project for it to be a good idea (maybe quite the opposite).
DAY 23 - BLOW YOUR OWN TRUMPET.
Awards and recognition can be really effective in raising your profile and recognising those involved. You can (often) nominate your own project - don't be coy!
DAY 24 - BE IMPATIENT FOR CHANGE.
There's a place for taking things slowly and carefully, but sometimes you need bold, ambitious, no-holds-barred action.
DAY 25 - ASK 'WHO'S NOT IN THE ROOM?'
Are you only talking to people like you? Who else might bring a different perspective? Keep reaching out, even (especially) where you feel uncomfortable.
DAY 26 - ASK - DIRECTLY - FOR HELP.
Identify who's well-placed to help you, then just ask. Directly, politely, but unapologetically. It's often nice to be asked, and easier to say yes to something specific.
DAY 27 - BE KIND.
That's it - no elaboration needed. There's no call for being a dick.
DAY 28 - SAY THANK YOU.
To your team & volunteers, but also to those you notice doing lovely things in your community. It might be the boost they need.
DAY 29 - FAILURE ISN'T THE END OF THE WORLD.
It happens. You'll have met people and learned things along the way that might just be vital for your next adventure.
DAY 30 - MAKE TIME TO CHAT.
To lean on the (literal or metaphorical) gate for a blether. Sometimes getting the work done is only the second most important thing.
DAY 31 - KNOW WHEN TO LET GO.
Not all projects need to live forever. And some need to outlive you (or your energy). Build strong, resilient projects - and know when to let them go.
You can catch me talking about #LetsGetStarted, and expanding on some of the lessons learned along the way, with Eden Project Communities at the link below: