Place based Alumni Groups

“.. the only sound that’s left, after the ambulances go, is Cinderella sweeping up on desolation row.” B.D.

I have just spent three hours in deepest darkest south London, Tulse Hill no less. The trip there was akin to a trip through the favela’ with a full wallet – even the taxi driver was nervous. What’s happened down here – south London was on the up when I lived here 15 years ago but it’s all evaporated. Drugs, crime and real poverty. An amazing mix of properly fancy but housing association run building stock surrounded by some gruesome 1960’s concrete apartment blocks. I left this place after 8 years residence when I got mugged and have only been back to visit a dentist! Scary stuff. However, the people are real!

Now lets turn to Iris Lapinski, and her mobile apps initiative for social inclusion. Iris has brought together a (Dell Sponsored) programme whereby youths in south London are taught about mobile phone application design with a view to helping them get more digitally included in their community. The initiative is called CDI or Centre for Digital Inclusion and it’s excellent. Twitter #appslaunch. Before you click away ~ it’s excellent, one of the freshest initiatives I’ve seen for years, please read on.

I didn’t know what to expect from the South London launch and late on a Wed evening, I confess that I didn’t really want to go. However, I’m so very glad I did. After getting lost in the high trees estate looking for the venue, I snuck in the back.. late. What I saw and heard was  a lively, engaged local community having a discussion about how to get “digitally included”. “Who writes our apps” asked one, “I have lots of ideas ~ who owns the IP” asked another… “hey Mr. biggish cheese Dell ~ will you give us a job after the course” said a third. These were guys who mugged me?!@? (well of course not actually) asking about how they could write community-useful apps…. egged on by their mothers, local press and city councillors of course. Mr Alan Moore, this was engagement marketing, you’d be proud.

Post the discussion and over some excellent food.. I met the “yoofs”. Nice guys actually, wanting to believe and needing some hope. They loved the idea of writing a game app ~ but actually had never seen code. “Writin’ code.. wa’s vat?” In fact these guys didn’t know what software was, had never seen any (teachers teachers what are you missing). Quite shocking really ~ a quick view of some HTML source code on the PC next to the chicken drumsticks was quite a revelation to them. “Oh so that’s software”. Quite a hill to climb but well worth it.

I met some lovely cuddly lady councillors & trustees one of whom introduced Daniel her son (2:22mins into vid below) as soon as she heard that I “give away money for a living”. Daniel has a need for money for his work which sees him mentor “the fastest 17 year old in the country and keep the yoofs off the bad stuff”. A brief discussion with him sparked an idea and question:

Why isn’t there a “Tulse Hill alumni group”? i.e there may well be no-one still living there with money to donate, because the monied people who reached “escape velocity wealth” have moved on and moved out. However, they must have gone somewhere and if they were made aware of these initiatives Iris’ and Daniel’, they couldn’t help but GIVE.

So, HELP ~ does anyone out there know of any PLACE BASED ALUMNI initiatives, tools etc etc… it seems an obvious engagement mechanism.

Lastly, full marks Iris.. full marks Daniel.. you can be proud.

Proofing credit to CDP – thanks.

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