Tools for changing your community

Much of the work of Liberal Democrats campaigning and affecting change in our community today is inspired by a pamphlet, The Theory and Practice of Community Politics, written in 1980 by Bernard Greaves and Gordon Lishman. This has recently been republished by ALDC in "Community Politics Today" with a number of contemporary articles bringing their thinking into the 21st century.

Below we set out a range of information sources, tools and processes that you can use to get started in community campaigning/ planning to help change your area for the better.

If you would like to learn more about using the tools, please take a look at our training programme and get in touch by email ( to sign up.

Personal development, information management and communication

>> single-step - Personal goal setting software and process
>> WWF Footprint Calculator - Calculate your ecological footprint and plan your next steps to reduce your environmental impacts
>> Personal Brain - Dynamic non-hierarchical Personal Information Management software
>> Speech Outliner - Guides you through the process of structuring and writing a speech or presentation (Speech outliner access costs $10)

Community campaigning and participatory planning

A quick introduction...
>> The Guide to Community Campaigning - Produced by Bristol City Council and Friends of the Earth this short guide covers everything from how to build your team, strengthening your case and reaching the right people

Some useful tools and processes...
>> Change Management Toolkit - A range of tools and processes for manage personal, group and wider system change
>> The World Cafe - A dynamic approach to running meetings with large groups that generates new ideas and can help solve problems
>> Art of Hosting - A philosophy and approach to facilitating group processes.
>> Open Space Technology - A philosophy and approach to facilitating group processes.
>> Theory U - This an approach to addressing highly complex problems. It can be difficult to get your head round! This introductory article may help.

Social issues...
>> Community Architecture in Practice - Article introduces the community architecture philosophy, an approach that first emerged in the 1960s.
>> Community Planning Website - A vast range of tools and processes to enable community planning exercises
>> Running an inter-faith dialogue day - This toolkit provides guidance in how to bring people of different faith backgrounds together. Useful background reading is this article by The New Economics Foundation on Faiths, Hope and Participation.

Environmental issues...
>> Transition Towns - A participatory approach to bringing the local community together to produce an "energy decent plan" for an area and reduce fossil fuel dependence

Community Economics...
>> Plugging the Leaks - Developed by the New Economics Foundation this site introduces Plugging the Leaks and The Money Trail handbooks that can help your community develop a deeper understanding of your local economies and plan actions to make it stronger.
>> Participatory Budgeting - Introduces case studies and toolkits for facilitating participatory budget processes

Local statistics...
>> Neighbourhood Statistics Hounslow - A range of local stats from the Office of National Statistics - everything from health to crime.
>> Hounslow Borough Community Health Profile 2007 - A range of data, particularly focused on health inequalities
>> Resource Accounting for People and Places - Ecological, carbon, and greenhouse gas footprint data by region
>> - Useful source of stats on local area and postcode search for your local political representatives
>> Regional Indicator Datasheets - Provides a range of key economic, social and environmental regional indicators of sustainable development

Web-based community participation, campaigning and project management tools

Create an online space...
>> Open Plans - A platform for social activism. OpenPlans is the simple way to bring groups together, promote your cause, make plans, and get things done.
>> Voice It - Provides free webspace for young people to set up campaigns, podcasts and petitions.
>> OpenStrategy - A peer production system for multi-stakeholder planning. The approach captures and liberates the collective wisdom of all stakeholders to enable individual actions to evolve in a collaborative community framework. There is a charge for using this system so your project will need funding in place.

Tell your story through video...
>> You Tube - A platform for broadcasting your own videos

Or in words...
>> Blogger - Tool to create your own 'blog'

Align your action and ethics...
>> Actics - A unique web-based tool that allows you to set out your core values and ethics. Visitors to your personal, company or campaign website can then rate your performance.

Get others involved...
>> The Petition Site - A free tool for creating online petitions.
>> - Enables anyone to create professional online surveys quickly and easily. Charges apply for surveys with over 100 responses.
>> PledgeBank - Tell the world "I'll do it, but only if you help!"
>> FaceBook - A social utility that connects you with the people around you.
>> Fix My Street - Let the Council - and others - know about a problem in your area.

Talk about the change...
>> Meebo - Allows you to send instant messages and create live chat rooms on the web
>> - Brainstorming web application that enables collaboration through its sharing/editing facility.
>> Google Groups - Create an internet discussion group and choose whether you want to read and post messages online, or to just use your current email account to read and respond.

Create campaign stationery and merchandise...
>> Cafe Press - On-line "print on demand" service for producing your own campaign shop to sell t-shirts, bags and caps
>> CardCorpUK - On-line "design and print on demand" service for producing your business cards and letterhead
>> Blue Fish Promo - Supply a range of promotional items including badges

Software for community participation and project management

Google Sketchup

From simple to complex, conceptual to realistic, Google SketchUp enables you to build and modify 3D models quickly and easily

>> Logframe for Windows 1.0 - Project Management Tool that supports the production of a Logical Framework Analysis (LFA). This provides a structured approach to determining your project super-goal, goal, objectives and activities, as well as how these will be measured and verified, and any underlying assumptions.
>> Google SketchUp - Fairly simple tool for the generation of 3D models of builings or townscapes. Models can be used with Google Warehouse and Google Earth.
>> Open Workbench - An open source desktop application that provides robust project scheduling and management functionality.

Support networks and organisations

>> Pioneers of Change - Pioneers of Change is a global learning network supporting practitioners in their mid-20s to mid-30s. The network fosters understanding, capacities and relationships needed by younger practitioners committed to stepping forward and creating the change they want to see in the world.
>> Community Matters - The National Federation of Community Organisations
>> CVS Hounslow - Provides support to community and voluntary organisations in Hounslow
>> Do It - The national volunteering database.
>> CAN - London based social enterprise that supports social entrepreneurs in scaling up their businesses and maximise their social impact.
>> Hounslow Council Corporate Community Investment and Cohesion Unit - Manage a range of investment funds to support the development of community organisations and initiatives.
>> UnLtd - Foundation for social entrepreneurs that gives awards to people with passion, whose ideas will benefit the community.

Local case studies

The groups below are using some of the tools and skills cited above. Neither of the groups are party politically aligned, but both are taking a leadership role in shaping the future of their local areas:
>> Campion Concerns - A group focused on achieving a high quality and sustainable development scheme on the Campion House site in Isleworth.
>> Brentford High Street Steering Group - Developed a community vision for the future of Brentford High Street and implementing practical projects to improve the high street environment.