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Event: Chain Reaction 2009

In July 2007, the Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, announced “we will support the development of an annual global forum on social leadership which will meet each year to inspire debate, forge links between activists and stimulate the pursuit of social change”.

East London community organisation Community Links established this forum – now known as Chain Reaction. At the core of Chain Reaction is a simple idea: that we all have the power of our own actions, but that none of us on our own can create social change, not governments, not local authorities, not business, not communities. However, together we have the power to change the world – literally creating a chain reaction.

Chain Reaction was founded on the belief that social leadership exists everywhere, is explicitly cross sector, is enthusiastically collaborative, and is driven by a set of shared values. Chain Reaction is a process and an ongoing network of individuals and organisations, but its impact is most evident when brought to life at events. The first Chain Reaction brought together over 1,000 people from 17 countries for a two day event in November 2008 where people were enabled to “connect, collaborate and commit to action for social change”. Crucially the event had a focus on young people; over a quarter of people attending were under 21, representing emerging social leaders.

An innovative and interactive programme includes inspirational keynote speakers, high level debates, practitioner conversations and practical workshops. Alongside the programmed sessions participants were encouraged and supported to self-organise meetings in the open space. Participants were offered a process that supported them to connect to the people they wanted to meet, collaborate to develop their ideas and commit to taking action together.

At the second Chain Reaction event on 12th November 2009 the same mix of government ministers, social activists, and businesses will reconvene, this time in the UK’s financial centre – Canary Wharf – to explore how the changed circumstances of recession offer opportunities to build stronger communities alongside stronger economies. Chain Reaction 2009 will focus on several key themes:
  • New ideas for financing social change
  • New ideas for delivering public services
  • New ideas for engaging communities
  • New ideas for organising ourselves.
The use of online communications is an important element of Chain Reaction. Our Ning Network enables people attending to connect before the event and set up meetings in the open space, and continue discussions after the event. Twitter is used to keep people in touch with activities and generate discussions with tweets relayed on big screens inside the venue as well as online. Last year the innovative Videoboo system allowed participants at the event to post video comments directly to the Chain Reaction YouTube Channel. A group of young people made a short film during the event reporting on Chain Reaction which was edited to be shown at the end of the day, which can be found here. We are repeating this again in 2009 with the support of the Big V bus.

In 2008 we reacted to a crisis. Now is our chance to move on, making new ideas for social change a reality. These ideas must involve government, local authorities, business, charity and ordinary people, working together collaboratively for a better future.

Why not join us at Canary Wharf on Nov 12th and start a Chain Reaction?

- Guest Post by Richard McKeever, linksUK Communications Manager.
For information please visit www.chain-reaction.org.

(Top) The Chain Reaction Logo
(Bottom 1) Participants is a self-organised meeting in the open space at Chain Reaction 2008.
(Bottom 2) The entrance hall of Chain Reaction 2008 showing numerous tables, a giant chandelier hanging from the ceiling and at the front, a stage with a screen showered in a light purple light, with thanks to chainreaction2008 on Flickr for giving us permission to access and use their images.

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