Can we better explain what we mean by community technology? Can we show the difference it can make? Does it help us to experiment with new ways of being, doing and exploring better futures? How can we share what we’ve learnt? Our mistakes and achievements contribute to building a movement for inclusive positive change, where no place or person is ‘left behind’.
The story of Knowle West Media Centre’s use of community tech has evolved over 25 years, from putting cameras in people’s hands to tell their own stories and designing online interactive neighbourhood routes across the estate (before Google Maps), to asking questions about who owns data and more recently how can more of us better understand AI?
KWMC’s mission is to “make thriving neighbourhoods using arts, tech and care.” We work locally in our community in South Bristol but collaborate and share learning internationally. We are purposeful, using creative tech to explore and tackle our community’s priorities from building better homes, providing opportunities for young people to addressing climate change.
One of the key challenges has been telling our and the community’s story, communicating what we see as a powerful and democratising approach to sharing resources and power.
Power to Change have included us in their first cohort of the ‘Community Tech: Makers and Maintainers Fund’, where they have focused “on building resilience of existing community tech already in use by community businesses across England.”
“Geographically speaking, it quickly became apparent that there are community tech hotspots and deserts. While almost no community businesses from the Midlands and East of England applied, there were clusters of strong applications from Bristol and Greater Manchester. Our grants panel took the decision to actively foster these concentrations, rather than impose an artificial geographical spread, seeing potential dividends in close working.”Fergus Arkley, Digital Innovation Manager at Power to Change
We are excited to be part of this cohort and plan to tell the story of the impact we are making, to share how we have developed community tech and to shine a light on the potential we see to empower and enrich communities, glimpsing possible new futures and different ways of doing things.
Thank you to Power to Change and congratulations fellow Bristolians Trinity Community Arts and The Bristol Cable. We look forward to being part of building collective resources and a movement for social change.
“Robots, augmented reality, modern methods of construction. All of this stuff is a completely new world for me, I’m a bit of luddite really. But now I’m not scared. I can do this stuff”]Knowle West Resident
We are the independent trust that strengthens communities through community business. We use our experience to bring partners together to fund, grow and back community business to make places thrive. We are curious and rigorous; we do, test and learn. And we are here to support community business, whatever the challenge.
Power to Change started life in 2015 with an endowment from The National Lottery Community Fund. Responding to the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic we were given an additional grant of £20million in 2021 which enabled us to set out a new five-year strategy to continue to back the sector, creating the ideas, evidence, and exemplars that make the case for others to back them too.
We are the largest community funder in the UK – we’re proud to award money raised by National Lottery players to communities across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Since June 2004, we have made over 200,000 grants and awarded over £9 billion to projects that have benefited millions of people.
We are passionate about funding great ideas that matter to communities and make a difference to people’s lives. At the heart of everything we do is the belief that when people are in the lead, communities thrive. Thanks to the support of National Lottery players, our funding is open to everyone. We’re privileged to be able to work with the smallest of local groups right up to UK-wide charities, enabling people and communities to bring their ambitions to life.