Good morning, CityForum is happening this afternoon. We’re at the Sallis Benney Theatre from 2, and we hope to see you there.

If you want a reminder, we have fifteen topics already suggested. The short timetable for the day is:

2.00 Start
2.10 Setting the agenda together (we’ll post it here as soon as it’s done)
2.45 First Discussion Session
4.00 Second Discussion Session
5.05 Third Discussion Session
6.30 Discussions feed back and panel session

If you want to turn up, either for the whole thing or part of it, grab a ticket online. If you can’t do that, you can follow the discussions on Twitter (follow @demsocbtn or #citycampbtn) or on our Facebook page – or here, where we’ll post as much as we can during the day.

Two weeks to go, and here are some details about how we are going to run the event on the day.

To help make things run smoothly and to make sure that we get as many ideas discussed as possible we are suggesting the following format for the CityForum event.  This is really just a suggestion – we are listening to feedback and if you have an idea about how we can make the day run more smoothly then please let us know in the comments or by email.  The aim is to have as many thought out and supported ideas as we can.

The table below shows the basic agenda:

1330 Doors open and we all grab a coffee
1400 Introduction, MyUrbanAngel presentation, Session pitches
1445 First discussion session
1545 More Coffee
1600 Second discussion session
1700 Session switchover
1705 Third discussion session
1805 Yet more Coffee*
1830 Panel session
1945 Wrap up and actions
2000 End

* At this point we would not blame you for wanting something other than Coffee

This gives us the structure of the event but the real agenda is going to be created when people pitch ideas.  If you want to talk about a project, come ready to make a 60 second pitch to recruit other people to join your discussion.  If your project is interesting and connects to things other people want to talk about, you’ll get an audience.  If you are unsure about pitching or want some advice then get in touch either before the event or when you arrive.  Anyone who was at CityCamp will tell you its not as scary as it sounds and it does mean that we only run sessions that people are interested in.

We have 5 spaces available and so that means 15 potential sessions.  We’ll be saving a few slots for anyone who has told us in advance (ideally via the blog) that they want to pitch, and really can’t make the starting session, but only sessions that get support on the day will run – its therefore a good idea to recruit participants in advance.  If we have too many sessions then we ask people with related ideas to combine – but as Anthony says this is a high quality problem to have!

You can attend whatever sessions you want to and you can move between sessions when you like – its not rude to change mid-session if its not catching your interest.  The sessions are a chance for you to organise your ideas and suggestions in order to present them to the panel (you don’t have to do this, but it will get the word out).

How we manage this panel session will depend on how many people want to pitch ideas but we are going to ask all of the sessions to answer four questions:

  1. What problem are you trying to solve?
  2. What is your proposed solution?
  3. What are you going to be doing as part of the project?
  4. What help do you need?

Remember that the type of suggestion we are looking for is “We will if you will” – ask the panel to make a deal, rather than asking for money or complaining that something’s not right (there are other and better ways to do that). We will give you as much time as possible to first pitch the idea and then take questions from the panel and from the audience.

The panel is made up of five senior people in the city, from the council, the police, the NHS, the business community and the voluntary sector. These are people who can take good ideas forward within their organizations.  We are going to ask them to pick at least one idea that they can help progress and pledge some tangible support for the project.  This won’t necessarily mean you will get what you have asked for but it will be a useful next step.

We are also planning on running a social media surgery throughout the event for anyone who is curious about getting online and wants some help.

So – this is the plan – what do you think?

We had a great turn out for the CityForum Launch – despite torrential rain!  As a result we were able to have a really good discussion about how we want the Cityforum to work and how we want to use the pre-event discussions so I want to start by thanking everyone who took part in that as it was a really helpful to have such a detailed discussion.  This post is by way of a todo list and a request for some help – actions are highlighted in bold.

For me the meeting also helped to clarify what Cityforum is going to be – and also what people want from it.  It think its best described as an opportunity for people with ideas to get them in front of the right people and get some commitments about how to make them happen.  We’re not talking about money or resources (though hopefully at some point there will be some of those) its more about getting the right group of people talking so that things get done.  We hope that we get some actual commitments to take ideas forward from the event and this is why its important to develop ideas as much as we can in advance so that we can use our time in front of decision makers well.

Just to refresh – we’re having a series of open discussions on the blog, but also we hope in groups, over the course of September so that there are some fairly evolved ideas to talk about at Cityforum.  New ideas will be welcome on the day but we think that the extra time to talk will help move things forward.  I’m going to write up a bit more detail on the process we will follow on the day so that people can comment on it and we can make sure everyone is happy with how the day is going to work.  This will also include a more detailed agenda etc – I’ll try and get this done next week.

A lot of the conversation focused on how we are going to reach a wider audience – we want to make sure that we don’t just do digital marketing and discussion.  This is easier said than done though – especially with limited resources – and so we are going to have to rely on volunteers taking the message into offline spaces.  We were lucky enough to have the libraries volunteer coordinator there and he’s going to use their network and also distribute information at the libraries.   A number of people at the launch event also volunteered to spread the word and get people involved so we are going to create an invite and some printed information so that it can be handed out and emailed to people.  Our idea with this was if we can get people involved in the September discussions we just need one person to either tell us or write it up themselves and we can get share offline ideas on the site as well.  To make this work however we need people to volunteer to help distribute information and also to report back on offline discussions.  If you are interested in getting involved with this then please let us know.

The group at the launch event also emphasized the need to make sure that our communication is open and accessible in terms of language – we have a tendency to sound like the slightly geeky policy wonks that we are – and so we are going to try and get content proofed by people who are not also active online.  If you want to help make sure we get the language right then please contact us.

I think that’s it – if anyone who was at the launch remembers anything I have missed then please shout!

CityForum launched last night in a torrential downpour. Thanks to the hardy souls who made it out in the rain to get us started off so well.

Now it’s over to you. What’s your big issue in the city? What problem would you like to see solved? How can we make this a great place to live in the future? We want your suggestions for topics to discuss – and your views on other people’s ideas.

If you want to suggest a topic for discussion, you can

If you have something to say, and want to start a debate, this blog is an open space: drop us an email with your thoughts on what you’d like to blog about. You can also point us to blog entries elsewhere, and we’ll link to them from here.

While you’re thinking, get your tickets for the main event on 5 October. They’re free, but there aren’t many to go around.