A few months ago, I read an article in The Irish Times entitled “Secrets of a grassrootsy start-up“. It described a new organisation in Ireland called ChangeX who wanted to improve communities across the country. I remember reading it and thinking ‘this is amazing’. This has so much potential. This could change communities right across the country!
6 months later I am now volunteering with ChangeX to help and make a change in the place where I live, Cork City. With the support of ChangeX I organised a meetup and brought more than 40 people together who were eager to learn more about social innovations we could bring to Cork.
Kicking off the ChangeX Cork Community
The sheer variety of people was the first thing that struck me as I said hello to everyone on their way in. Young, old, students, parents, kids- you name it! Although there were many differences between all who attended, everyone did have one thing in common; they all want to make Cork a better place!
The first Meetup was there for everyone to come along, meet like-minded people and learn about the many social innovations on ChangeX and how they can help to improve the Cork community. Paul O’ Hara (Founder), Niamh McKenna (Head of impact), myself and KC (RedFm) each took a few minutes to get up and say a few words. Paul chatted about the vision, Niamh walked people through some of the social innovations, I talked about why I got involved and KC spoke to the crowd about why RedFm are backing ChangeX.
People chatted, broke into focus groups, brainstormed and pledged their commitment to ChangeX. Whether that be starting a social innovation in their community or nominating someone who would- everyone walked away from the event by helping the cause in one way or another. (We also ate the delicious food from Cafe Velo and drank endless amounts of their fantastic coffee- thanks again for hosting us guys!).
We’ve commited to making a difference and it was fun
Needless to say, it was a fantastic evening. Looking around the room as people got to know each other was a pretty nice sight. It felt great to see so many Corkonians in one room and all being there because they wanted to make things better in the City! Each of them wrote on a commitment card at the end of the Meetup and for me, that was the highlight.
Going through and reading each one would fill you with encouragement. People pledged to start a social innovation, they said they would nominate a friend who would be interested. People gave some lovely words of encouragement and said they would help in any way they could. Others want to organise Meetups in their communities and get their friends and neighbours involved. AND on top of all this, RedFm are supporting ChangeX and will help us in spreading the word and giving a voice to the Change-makers around Cork.
You can join in and help us to meet our big challenge
Together with ChangeX we decided to set ourselves a challenge to start 30 new ideas in 60 days. So, by the end of December we are hoping to have 30 new social innovations started in communities across Cork. Whether its a Coder Dojo, a Street Feast, Siel Bleu or one of the many ideas on the platform- each one of them is guaranteed to make a lasting impact in Cork. Yes, the challenge is a big one but we believe it can happen! And it’s worth it: With every innovation we start our impact will grow and I hope that at least 1000 people will benefit from those ideas within just the next 12 moths.
Looking back at all of that good stuff puts a smile on my face! Especially now that another Meetup is on the horizon. The Cork city follow-up Meetup is happening on Thursday November 12th at 6.30pm in the amazing Cafe Velo. The purpose of the follow up event is to really start taking action, to strengthen the ChangeX network in Cork and it will give starters the opportunity to gather their teams and begin taking the first steps to getting their ideas off the ground. It’s also a perfect opportunity to get involved with helping someone who is starting an innovation.
So, whether you were at the first Meetup or are just reading this and want to get stuck in- I hope to see you at our next event on November 12th and please follow our Cork community page on ChangeX to stay in the loop of what’s happening and to find the innovations that you can get involved with.
Or start your own Meetup in your community and let’s make Ireland a better place
A meetup can be organised in any community in Ireland, you just need to contact the guys from ChangeX and put yourself forward. It took me about 2-4 hours over the course of a few weeks to get it started, 3 hours for hosting the meetup itself. Now my job is to keep following up with all our wonderful starters and to bring everyone together on a regular basis.
I hope there will be more communities joining in and taking the challenge to get new innovations up and running in their areas. Together we can build a national community of changemakers and make Ireland a better place to live.
Photo credits: Tony Compagno