Written by Julie Adair of Common Good First.
In July 2015 a pilot project called Common Good First was given the green light by Pamela Gillies, Principal and Vice Chancellor of Glasgow Caledonian University. Two small teams in Scotland and South Africa set out to identify and capture stories of community social impact and then connect them to each other and to academic colleagues at GCU and the University of Johannesburg.
During this time, we settled on a theme of Youth and Education and focused on individuals within communities across Johannesburg and Glasgow who had found innovative ways to solve problems in their community. These activities range from re-educating prisoners to raising aspirations for young people in areas of high deprivation, from tackling dementia to supporting orphans and vulnerable children.
The teams in Scotland and South Africa captured these stories in interviews, short films and photos and posted them online. These case studies were then evaluated by a team of academics to assess their impact.
As this is still a proof of concept, we wanted to establish:-
- The level of interest from community projects in being part of this initiative and how easy it was to involve them in the pilot website
- The process of academic evaluation and review
- The logistics of two teams with the same aims and ambitions working long-distance
- Optimal technical solutions to include platform options, team production/collaboration tools and content creation tools
On Friday 29th January a selection of our project partners, as well as academics and external partners in both Glasgow and Johannesburg met ‘virtually’ through a video link-up between the two cities. They heard from Professor Gillies at GCU and Professor Roodt from UJ about how the Universities have supported the project and were presented with a GCU Quaich (a symbolic Scottish cup of friendship) as a thank-you for their participation. We also showed a short film as a way to introduce the Scottish and South African projects.
There was broad agreement that Common Good First, and its potential as a global digital platform, is an innovative way to share stories which have not yet been told and, in so doing, prove their impact through assessment by a global network of academics. It’s also about telling the stories of where individuals and small groups of committed people have truly made a difference to the lives of their families and their communities.
Next steps for the project are to submit an EU bid for funding, focusing on South Africa and the digital literacy element specifically, as well as to approach a range of private and public funding bodies to extend the initiative into other geographies and themes. Members of the Common Good First team will also be presenting Common Good First to the Ashoka U Exchange conference in New Orleans, USA on Friday 26th February.
All photo credits to Will Gardner of Common Good First.