In a subtle innovation this morning, we have a couple of “table experts”, whom attendees can meet one-to-one for a quarter of an hour of free advice.
As you’ll see form the picture above, faithful reader, I still find it hard to get a photo inside Phoenix Square that makes it look like there's a decent number of people here. Is it because I’m taking pics on my iPhone? We must have 20-odd attending CreativeCoffee Club this morning – I’ve tried to squeeze in as many of them as I could.
The regular session is followed at noon by the first meeting of a new committee formed to take stock of the past and present of CreativeCoffee Club and to chart its possible future. The meeting is convened by Cheryl Gill, Enterprise Support Officer at LCB Depot and Phoenix Square. Cheryl took charge of CreativeCoffee Club in April and will hold the reins till March next year. Emma Moore, Jed Spittle and I were on the short-lived committee that met only once eight months ago and which (despite our best intentions) managed to lead CreativeCoffee Club down a bit of a dead end. Steve Bowes, Russ Pacey and Ben Ravilious are also in this new committee today.
I’ve been having a bit of trouble with my hearing over the past few weeks. Every so often, my right ear switches off, which leads to some unusual effects (and to me looking a bit rude sometimes, I imagine). In this meeting, I hear Ben saying that he’s acting as “Neville’s Advocate” quite a lot.
We oldies provide a little bit of historical context, especially for those relatively new to CreativeCoffee Club. When CreativeCoffee Club relocated to Phoenix Square from its first home in the Graduate Bar at De Montfort University, it continued its pattern of meeting on alternate Wednesday mornings. One of the other Wednesday mornings would be occupied by a monthly public meeting of Amplified Leicester (same time, same venue, if a different room). Those sessions of Amplified Leicester featured innovative speakers (some of them from other parts of the country, a few from other parts of the world), more formal presentations, more structured participation. Amplified Leicester was the filling in the sandwich then, with a slice of CreativeCoffee Club on either side. That allowed reasonable differentiation between the two kinds of meetings and allowed each to develop its own character – even though, more often than not, it was the same crowd attending both (and one Wednesday morning out of four free). If someone didn’t take to the more relaxed nature of CreativeCoffee Club, they could come to Amplified Leicester – and vice versa. In the last phase of Amplified Leicester these public meetings moved to Wednesday evenings. Once Amplified Leicester came to an end in summer 2011, we were left with two slices of bread but no filling – nice bread, but all the same … Two floppy slices of bread, flapping around in search of a decent filling isn’t the most attractive prospect.
In terms of charting the future, we begin by discussing ways to refresh the brand. An immediate decision is made regarding the name. From now on, it’s going to be Creative Coffee Leicester (CC Leic for short, which matches up nicely with the Twitter feed: @CCLeic). I never got “CreativeCoffee Club”. I couldn’t understand why those first two words were run together like that, with the initial C in “Coffee” set upper case. I could see no logic or sense in it, no benefit or good effect arising from it – and no one I asked about it could explain it to me. I couldn’t find one person, involved in the network or outside it, who could understand it themselves or explain it to me. Why not run all three words together and make all three initial Cs upper case? Being different for its own sake is just annoying. It’s juvenile. A punch in the face is memorable, but I wouldn’t want another one. I don’t need or want funny spelling to make something memorable. The experience should be memorable for the right reasons to those who have had it and desirable to those who haven’t had it yet.
Well, that’s been one of my biggest moans for years and now it’s been dealt with. Mind you, I find people saying “Creative Coffee” annoying in the same way as when you hear people saying “Thomas the Tank”. What’s that? Just leave it, you say? Hmmm …
Actually, that won’t matter now, as we’ve also agreed to drop the word Club from the title. We don’t want to make it sound cliquish or exclusive, that you have to apply for membership, or that some people are in and some are out.
A straw poll was conducted at the meeting on 4 April, asking attendees to answer the following questions (among others):
- Should we should from fortnightly meetings to monthly meetings?
- Should we introduce ourselves at the beginning of each session?
- Should we wear badges / labels?
- Should we have speakers?
We say yes to occasional speakers. We can encourage potential speakers by offering this as a networking opportunity which will be to their for the benefit as much as it is to their listeners. More “table experts” too – although there’s no reason why they shouldn’t always be brought in from outside the regular attendees.
At the start of a meeting, we could have a kind of “Open Mic”, giving newbies an opportunity to introduce themselves and for Committee Members to announce “Parish Notes”.
There’s a new website under construction, which is obviously the topic of much of our conversation today. We discuss its content and its style. The site could feature profiles of those who use Creative Coffee frequently and regularly (as used to be on Amplified Leicester’s ning). Each person’s profile could show their response to a small set of questions (e.g.):
- “Why do I come to Creative Coffee?”
- “What do I get out of Creative Coffee?”
- “What do I bring to Creative Coffee?”
- “Who do I hope to meet at Creative Coffee?”
There's more discussed than I've recorded here. Cheryl takes fuller and more professional notes of the meeting, which she’ll circulate soon. We’ll be meeting again immediately after the next Creative Coffee session on Wednesday 13 June.