The Huffington Post UK
What does People Power mean in the age of the internet? Do we need party politics? Can children run schools? How can people relate more constructively to global business?
On Friday 11 April, a group of expert witnesses will be taking part in a debate on the meaning of 21st Century People Power at the launch of the New Citizenship Project, a collaboration of thinkers, academics and activists dedicated to finding creative ways to involve people more actively in shaping the society we live in.
Taking inspiration from the surroundings of St Mary's Church in Putney, where during the Civil War in 1649 the concept of representative democracy was first invented, this looks like being a thought-provoking, inspiring afternoon. Everyone is invited to attend but, in keeping with the project, it will be as 'Participants' and not 'Audience Members' that they walk through the door. Everyone's views are not just welcome, they are positively encouraged.
One of those speaking at the event, Rachel Roberts is the director of the Phoenix Education Trust. Rachel is a teacher and a confirmed believer in democratic education. Ahead of the event on 11 April, she speaks to HuffPostUK:
What is your particular field of interest in this debate?
Democratic Education; that is, how can genuinely participatory and collaborative cultures be embedded in educational communities. If a school embraces a culture of real shared decision making, it is able to educate children to embrace people power and become pioneers of social change. By learning through experience young people cannot help but emerge as active citizens.
What is the single biggest problem with the current set-up of power?
A shift needs to take place to enable a culture of shared responsibility to emerge. The key to this is communication, different people need to be talking to each other in different ways in order to realise their shared value and aims. Then, they will be in the position to constructively work together to achieve change.
There are currently too many divides and assumptions about who is equipped to decide, or even discuss, what.
By opening up power set-ups to restructuring processes which genuinely account for everyone's needs progress can be made and results achieved.
What do you hope to come out of the debate?
I hope that people will be able to gain insight into new areas and come together to build momentum, move forward and have an impact.
'The New Citizen Project' will be taking place on Friday 11 April in Putney. Full list of speakers here. The event is open to the public, who are encouraged to participate from the floor, and tickets are available now.