Last night, I asked this:
Your suggestions please, for an epic middle name for our baby boy.— Oli (@oli) November 29, 2013
The ones I can publish:
@oli Gwahir the Windlord— Ed Mehen (@EdMehen) November 29, 2013
@oli Cletus.— Podders (@morris_oxford) November 29, 2013
@oli peregrine— booyaa (@booyaa) November 29, 2013
@oli Bear!— Mark O’Neill (@marxculture) November 29, 2013
I wanted to add my thoughts and reflections as part of the motley crew who organised the gig itself.
On Saturday morning we had no idea who was going to turn up. Nervous glances and awkward jokes were exchanged, and we were left wondering if anyone was really motivated enough to come along after breaking loose and partying the evening before.
Our fears were misplaced. People appeared in dribs and drabs. Coffee was made (and spilled) and hello’s exchanged. Briefs were reviewed and teams started to form.
I’ve learnt through painful experience that anything which requires a degree of facilitation can be very unpredictable. Coupled with the fact that I am considerably more shy that my gregarious overcompensation suggests I had no idea what I’d need to do during the gig.
Within 10 minutes of Gaz kicking things off and people really getting down to it I felt it was obvious we’d hit upon the perfect mixture of people. Heads were down, marker pens were squeaking furiously, and the four of us who first discussed this crazy idea back in July were left twiddling our thumbs.
Running one of these gigs is hard. GFN is great because its set up not to require formal leaders, but having spent months thinking and putting this together I felt a sense of responsibility to make sure everyone was getting something out of it.
It ends up this was one of the easiest things I have ever helped to facilitate. I felt a massive sense of accomplishment in being able to have an outlet for my technical and creative juices that I just don’t normally have 
Inspirational is a very over-used word. But there were a few things about last weekend that I think warrant its use. found what happened last weekend
Firstly, the fact that people decided it would be better to do work for free than stay in bed at the weekend. They were prepared to offer their skills to help something that benefits others. I don’t want to sound preachy, but that’s pretty inspirational to me.
Secondly, we had a fine mix of people. People who are used to doing this kind of thing for a living to people who aren’t used to speaking publicly or working in project groups. Everyone managed to contribute something and everyone was made to feel valued.
#gfncol is a perfect example of what can get done when money and politics are removed from a situation.— GFNColchester (@GFNColchester) November 24, 2013
There’s often a lot of grumbling in Colchester. We can be a confused little town: often filibustering and worrying more about point scoring than Just Getting On. There are so many things that are happening in our little corner of Essex to be proud of — which show we’re a lot more than a poor Channel 4 series about one naff bar. I’m really pleased that GFN Colchester is a part of that.
There’s been some discussion today about a couple of videos produced by Colchester Borough Council: one about Food Waste Recycling, the other about ‘social media’. Given that I create online content for a living I thought i’d offer some constructive criticism, along with an offer of support to Colchester Borough Council .
The two videos:
First, things first, I think the fact that these exist at all is a good thing. It means CBC have crossed from talking to doing, and that is a scary step. It’s also really important to say that I wouldn’t have approved either of these videos for release to the public, for one important reason.
I don’t understand what they’re trying to get me to do.
Video is an excellent online medium, and it is seductively easy to feel like you’re doing something good with it when perhaps you’re not. Any content you create needs to answer a really simple question: “What’s the story I’m trying to tell, and what do I want people to do once I’ve told them it?”
The ‘Binlings’ video is a great idea on paper, but I know from bitter experience how expensive and time consuming it is to create something that involves good character animation and which feels warm and fuzzy.
I think an alternative might have been to show the real impact of not recycling our food, and what happens when we recycle it: think piles and piles of landfill contrasted with neatly rotting compost or biogas.
My real beef is with the ‘Social Media video’. This is perpetuates so many myths about the modern internet which are just false. Social media is not:
A social media strategy is not ‘post 3 times a day to Twitter’. It is thinking deeply about how you will use these immensely powerful tools to have a proper connection with the people you serve — in this case everyone in Colchester.
So, my offer of help: I’ll gladly donate some time to help CBC write a proper social media strategy, and to understand what it could actually do for them. Anyone else in?
 This isn’t the first time I’ve offered. Back in March myself and some other interested folks met up with the council, but sadly nothing progressed. I’d love to do more. https://twitter.com/ColchChronic/status/310012191849992192
The internet is great, but it can make it seductively easy to feel like you might be making a difference about something you might care about when you’re not.
Starting next week in Colchester there’s an opportunity to change this a little bit.
Good for Nothing is a national network of groups that get together to do good, for nothing. It encourages people to come out from hiding behind their screen, meet new people and make a bit of a difference. It is not about talking, but doing.
We are hosting the first of a series of weekend get togethers next weekend, bringing a group of interesting people together to look at real challenges being faced by local groups working to make our community better.
It’s a chance to spend a few hours over the weekend contributing (any) skills you have to helping a good cause.
The causes who are looking for help will be present what they need and you’ll have a chance to offer your support to any or all of them over the course of the get together.
We’ll be meeting on the evening of Friday 22nd November and during the day of Saturday 23rd November at the marvellous Waiting Room in St. Botolph’s, Colchester.
You may be a writer, designer or coder; artist, photographer or business owner.
You also might be none of those things. It doesn’t matter. You can help by wanting to share your brain power on how to solve a few problems for your community.
A few things actually: