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Delivering Sustainable Regeneration
CLES Summer School 2005
Building Communities - Plenary hosted by New Start
Manchester, June 30 2005

Introducing the Sustainable Community Action Wiki
Summary of presentation by Phil Green, SCA wiki founder

To what extent can the sustainable regeneration agenda be influenced by community needs and aspirations?

Does the SCA wiki offer an approach to help with this?

And what relevance to building communities?

"Information wants to be free." Stewart Brand

What's a wiki? Edit

"One way to see it is as a way for many individuals to collectively write a web "site". Another way to see it as the most efficient policy process, the most efficient documentation sharing, the most efficient test balloon for a radical idea." Sustainable Nova Scotia

Special kind of website which allows users to edit pages direct from their internet browser, for example Firefox or Internet Explorer.

  • Fun and easy way to share information
  • Constantly evolving, searchable, knowledge base
  • Community of like minded people helping with peer review
  • Aid to networking and collaboration

The most famous example, Wikipedia Edit

"We are a group of people who are taking care of this content, and there's a lot of people who are really really passionate about taking care of the website and taking care of everything that's in it, because it's ours. We created it together." Jimmy Wales, founder of Wikipedia

Wikipedia describes itself as a free, open-content, online encyclopaedia, written by thousands of volunteers

Started in January 2001, Wikipedia is now both the world's largest encyclopaedia (over 1 million articles) and the fastest-growing.

According to Alexa internet traffic rankings, is among the top 200 websites in the world.

What's the Sustainable Community Action Wiki? Edit

" involves citizens, it is not simply done to them." Barry Quirk

The Sustainable Community Action Wiki is for anyone interested in local sustainability, but especially ordinary people and community groups

  • Local Agenda 21 groups
  • Local ACTION 21
  • Sustainability Forums
  • Local Quality of Life Forums

Open and accessible to an ever widening readership and community of contributors. Building bridges

The SCA wiki is hosted by Wikia. The SCA wiki is one of over 300 wikicities. Wikia is one of several sub-projects of Wikipedia.

Same software as Wikipedia, MediaWiki - integration, interconnectedness

Important Features Edit

"Reciprocity is key to the power of networks, the alchemy of mutual give and take over time turning to a golden trust . . ." Karen Stephenson

Open publishing One of the most important things to know about Wikipedia, wikicities and SCA wiki - we are licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. The free license enables other people to freely copy, redistribute, and modify our work, and ensures the work remains free. This has been summarised as 'share and share alike'

Neutral Point of View Articles written from Neutral Point of View – NPoV. Helpful guideline.

Consensus SCA is run as a community project, and strives towards consensus as the primary means for organizing the wiki.

Instant publishing and updating.

Brief background to the SCA wiki Edit

"Networks are the language of our times, but our institutions are not programmed to understand them." Demos

  • follows on from previous projects - an online Directory, and online magazine
  • catalyst UK wide networking meeting November 2004. Looked at possibilities and existing initiatives
  • SCA Wiki can add to existing initiatives, it's not about replacing. In particular e-networking complementary to face-to-face networking which still very important.

London Sustainability Weeks, 5 -19 June, over 350 free local events,

What's the SCA wiki for Edit

and how can it help community groups and individuals interested in sustainability?

"The challenge for public services is how to enlist users as co-producers and co-designers ...." Charles Leadbeater

  • Sharing knowledge and ideas for action to help bring about more sustainable communities and a more sustainable world.
  • Signposting to further information and resources
  • Developing and sharing new ideas, collaborating to bring them to fruition
  • Find out what others are doing already, in your own area or in similar projects in other areas, or networks
  • Finding or sharing inspiration
  • Finding, sharing and growing resources just for your very own sustainability action project, or to move your very own community more towards sustainability

Avoid re-inventing the wheel
Deepen the realisation that local sustainability action is an integral part of a growing world-wide movement.

What's in the Sustainable Community Action Wiki? Edit

"And the end of all our exploring, Will be to arrive where we started' And know the place for the first time" T. S. Eliot

Local Sustainability Ideas Bank - Ideas for action for a whole range of concerns identified by communities who drew up Local Agenda 21 plans

Projects and networks - Who's doing what and where, Building networks, Diary of events



...and lots more to come! The SCA wiki is very new, begun only December 2004, and there are many exciting ideas for its further development. Some possibilities: Developing local, regional or national Directories and stakeholder listings, Sustainable Your Town: Visioning, Action planning, Progress checking

Information is international, national and local. Much of the information so far is about England or the UK, but the wiki is open to all (though English language only, at least for now)

Is it easy to use? Edit

"...the growing connectedness of the world is the most important social and economic fact of our times." Geoff Mulgan

Yes! Think of it as a bit like filling in an online form.

You can preview whatever you edit before you decide whether to save it, edit some more, or cancel the edit. You can keep doing a re-edit and preview till you’re happy with your edit before saving it.

No special knowledge or programming skills are required. There’s a lot of flexibility for example to alter the way your text looks but these are easily learnt.

There are help sections to the wiki or if you get completely stuck you can put up a question for other users to see if they can help you. There’s even a special area - the sandbox - for people to try things out.

You can learn to do more and more with the wiki and always entirely at your own pace.

FAQs - Frequently asked questions Edit

"Many of our biggest social challenges will only be met if we promote self-organising solutions." Charles Leadbeater

Q. What’s the cost? A. None, its FREE

Q. Is there advertising? A. Free hosting is provided by Wikia which itself is supported by advertising by Google, although this is fairly discreet and unobtrusive.

Q. Who’s behind it? A. There are no special interest groups behind SCAW. It is 100 per cent independent. It’s founder is just someone who has been involved with local action for sustainability and Local Agenda 21.

Q Who runs it? A. SCAW strives toward decision making by consensus, amongst its users. Administrators help keep an overall watch on the site, for example to minimize vandalism.

relevance to building communities Edit

"Civic networks should be respected and promoted as sources of empowered citizenship." Professor Stephen Coleman, Oxford Internet Institute, University of Oxford

(regeneration) done with (communities) rather than done to

how helps community:

  1. Shared ownership - free license decreases sense of individual ownership but increases sense of shared ownership
  2. Talk pages help discussion - not primarily about discussion but can discuss specific articles, and topics such as the wiki's development ,etc.
  3. Profiles - users, Projects
  4. Affect not only content & design but also how it is organised

In summary Edit

(your contribution)... "adds up in the aggregate to something that has emergent properties." Howard Rheingold

It's about co-operation - using technology for co-operation

It's open, you can just jump in

It's self-documenting, it's a community enterprise

wikicities for - “people who know how to run a community”

It's fundamentally creative – it's also about designing and building projects

"Action is eloquence." William Shakespeare

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