Remember this date : Saturday 7th February 2015, because on Saturday in Huddersfield a special event We’re not in Westminster – Local Democracy for Everyone took place that created the space, time, inspiration and curation to bring together an amazing group of people to discuss and suggest small and big changes to how local democracy works.It certainly felt to me like a game changer. We talked about practical stuff, yes, but there was also energising, re-energising and inspiring by the bucket full.
This post isn't about the event, excellent though it was (I've already blogged about my workshop and others are blogging as well - here is the Storify).
This post isn't even about all the brilliant people who came together to make it happen (although they are and they did).
It’s about the #notwestminster hashtag – or, perhaps more accurately, it's about the attitude.
When Carl (@gr8governance), the impresario of the event, told me Diane’s (@72prufrocks) idea for a strap-line, I knew straight away it was perfect.
"We're not in Westminster anymore."
Most people know 'We're not in Kansas anymore' is quote from the film The Wizard of Oz.
It gets used as a saying that means, according to the Urban Dictionary:
When you're in a place or situation that is outside your comfort zone or scope of understanding. Strange surroundings.
By swapping Kansas for Westminster it gives you the sense that local democracy is very different to national government - that it's a very different world. This post about a recent GovCamp by @emilyaturner illustrates that point very well.
It's also a reminder that democracy happens outside of what is, after all, a very small part of the capital city. As John Popham has reflected, the fact that the #notwestminster event took place in Huddersfield is refreshing to say the least.
My hope is that the #notwestminster hashtag continues to be used. For me it represents:
- the uniqueness of local democracy
- the fact you need to live it to understand it
- the passion that many of us have for all the good stuff
- the excitement that there is around change for the better
Remember, if we are not in Westminster anymore then maybe we are somewhere over the ....
Photo credit: https://flic.kr/p/ot1uRA