Camden’s spirit & energy
It’s when you go to a great club and the atmosphere is so pumping you don’t need to drink any energy drinks or alcohol. I’ve found that at Camden too, working with people across the organisation and the borough who bring that energy and spirit that makes you want to stretch yourself because you’re all passionate about the issue and working together to make that change. On a side note, you could rename 5PS Bagleys and put a massive smiley face on the front to channel that “club-like” energy. Anyway, I want to try and capture all of your energy and bottle it for my next adventure.
We Make Camden
I’ve had the privilege of working on a countless number of projects with so many different people at Camden, sometimes commissioned via CMT or Cabinet, and sometimes a request by a cabinet member or a director to tackle a difficult issue that needed to be done yesterday, or sometimes an opportunity by a partner in the community that was too exciting to refuse. I’d like to thank those people who commissioned me and the team to quickly turn a vision or an idea into something we could mobilise on the ground. I’d like to thank my managers for giving me the freedom to try different things and to keep failing better.
Most importantly, I’d like to thank everyone in my team past and present who took on all of those projects with a smile. I’m sure they dreaded the many times I’ve told them “I’ve got this really exciting project that I know will be great for your personal development. It will take you of your comfort zone, but I’ll be there to support you” That probably felt like “There’s this really complex issue we need to tackle. You’ll need to skill up fast”. Everyone in my team past and present has got unique personalities and skills. Whether you’re doing strategic thinking or making change happen on the ground with you always do it with care, creativity and courage.
I’d also like to thank people across the council who thought they were allowed to input into a new strategy and then found themselves very quickly on project teams working out how to turn someone’s inspirational but sometimes vague idea into a set of activities. And in the case of Think & Do, the many people across the organisation volunteered to make people cups of tea & coffee and facilitate conversations with people coming in off Kentish Town High Street. I’ve always been more interested in the “making” strategy than the “writing” strategy. After all, we don’t write Camden, we make Camden. It’s that spirit that I’ve experienced time and time again working with colleagues across the council and two words come to me if I think what unique skills about the services I’ve worked with in comparison to other councils —it’s imagination and activism. What other council has a poet in residence?
I’ve enjoyed building those relationships across the organisation, and on my regular trips up and down the stairs of 5PS, I used to love being able to spot different people in my team working with other services on each floor, and even better when we’re out and about in the local community, doing team sessions at different community spaces, getting partners to draw each other’s faces at a Knowledge Quarter conference or getting the CEX of Leeds Council to tell us his favourite fruit in the neighbourhoods space at Number 19. And seeing how the alumni from the team have grown in their new roles across the organisation.
Where am I going next?
I have a habit of never living in the local area where I work, but always crossing over at some point. Shortly after I left working at Lambeth, I moved to live there. Having lived in East London before then, I’m now off to work there at Newham Council. Who knows, having worked at Camden, I may one day move there to live and become an active citizen!
I don’t want to see this as a goodbye but more of a let’s keep in touch, as I know there are many opportunities we’ll have to collaborate. In the meantime, I’m going to bottle that Camden energy, take that activist and maker spirit.
Finally, virtual leaving drinks always seem like you’re on stage in a pub and people are talking to you from the crowd and so I thought instead I would put in the spotlight a major priority I got my team to focus on, that is knowing how to run a good quiz.