Soapbox Twenty: Summits for the Rest of Us
The G20 summit later this week hopes to solve some of the world's largest political, economic and environmental problems. Meanwhile, a new organisation called we20 aims to empower ordinary citizens to do the same. NMK met with co-founder Paul Massey to discuss the plan.
What is we20?
It's an offline meeting format, a web community and a movement. Its purpose is to provide ordinary citizens with a democratic means of finding answers to the global economic crisis. The idea is that anyone can convene their own G20 meeting, create a business or action plan to address the problems discussed, post the results of that meeting to the community site and thus share the conclusions they reached with others. Many people feel that their own views and ideas are currently unheard and we hope to change that.
we20 will act as an advocacy tool. Anyone can host their own G20 meeting to make plans for economic recovery and the future. we20 members can organize meetings and post their we20 Plans to http://we20.org.
So we20 meetings are about the credit crunch?
That is our initial impetus. Many of us feel disempowered because the problem seems only to be discussed by enormous institutions. Everyone else's ideas are equally valid, though, and we're giving those a better forum.
We aren't setting too many rules in place over either the topic or the format of these events. Our main idea is to provide a repository for the plans and ideas that come from meetings about issues and to expose those to wider audiences. These are potentially very large indeed - the top we20 Plans are being looked at by the UK Foreign and Commonwealth office with the chance of going onto the official G20 London Summit site for the Summit of 2nd April.
In some respects, the format might be especially useful for local groups, discussing an issue like 'vandalism in the park', for example. The main thing is to bring together people from different interest groups, understand the problems better and create a plan for tackling it. Sharing the knowledge that was created in that meeting will help others - perhaps people facing the same problem in a different area, perhaps policy makers - to move forward more quickly.