This month, I officially became a Fellow of the RSA – the royal society for the encouragement of arts, manufactures, and commerce.
Making this commitment has been on my list for a few years – since we began working on place-based innovation projects – to make sure our practice is informed by and connected into other initiatives across the country.
Be more yes. Be open, optimistic, rigorous, courageous and enabling.
A succinct way to describe what the organisation and its work are all about. With a 260-year history of working for the greater good, you might expect to find a culture that was slightly fustier than that, at the heart of the RSA.
Working from the North, we are often told that our project ideas and our business projections lack ambition. The sums of money we are asking for are not big enough.
It always makes me feel a little Oliver-esque.
We absolutely should be asking for more, and bigger and better, for our communities. But we are perhaps a little too well practiced at making do with less, so that the funds we have stretch as far as they can. And perhaps the nature of our ambition is different. I’d rather see companies and organisations scaling deep within Lancashire – building ecosystems that function well and make our county strong – than see them scale up, up and away to other places with more resources.
One thing that I am really looking forward to as an active part of the RSA, is working with the backing of a really strong network of people who espouse similar values. With the moral and practical support of national bodies, home-grown levelling-up can be bolder in scope and bigger in impact.
Take for example, our ongoing collaboration with Lancaster University, Lancaster City Council, Lancashire County Council and Connected Places Catapult to encourage and enable active and sustainable travel between Morecambe and Lancaster.
Gathering partners as we move forward, and building on the human-centred-design work within i-Connect, we have the opportunity to re-green an urban area in a way that will encourage active travel, improve natural habitats and community wellbeing.
Watch this space for further updates and if you’re part of Lancashire or the RSA yourself, come and help us build something fantastic.
Jane Dalton, Founding Director of Groundswell Innovation