Common Good First kick-off meeting
February 1, 2017
In late January 2017, a group of academics, researchers and social innovation experts descended on Port Elizabeth, South Africa, for the kick-off meeting of the EU Erasmus+ funded project, Common Good First. Because of recent student unrest in South Africa, the partners were hosted by Nelson Mandela University in a local hotel, instead of on campus.
Common Good First, an initiative from Glasgow Caledonian University (GCU), was awarded nearly €1m in EU funding in October 2016 and this was the first time the South African and European consortium had come together. They travelled from Iceland, Norway, Denmark, Spain and the UK to meet with representatives from six South African universities and the South African summer weather was a welcome relief from the frozen North.
Regular readers of this blog will remember the closing event which celebrated the results of the proof of concept for Common Good First which took place at GCU in February 2016. This was just after the Glasgow team had submitted their EU bid for funding, never thinking that they’d be successful. But on 1 August 2016, the word came through from Brussels that the project had the green light.
And so teams from all over Europe and South Africa met for the first time in Port Elizabeth for a busy two and a half day workshop. The individuals and their organisations were selected because they had, variously, expertise in community engagement, social innovation, community technology and digital storytelling. And, once the group watched an introductory film on the project, these were the subjects under discussion. There were a number of presentations from partners on social innovation in South Africa, an overview of the digital landscape in the country and the kind of community projects we might partner with.
The consortium also took time to think ahead several years and consider the legacy and sustainability issues of a project like Common Good First. There was also, of course, a session on the inevitable European Union logistics.
Alongside meeting-packed days, the group got to know each other better over several dinners out in Port Elizabeth as well, on the final day, as a memorable sunset drive through Addo Elephant Park. A firm foundation was laid at this initial meeting and dates were agreed for the next two meet-ups – in Glasgow in June 2017 and at Rhodes University in April 2018.