May 122011

Thilo Boeck Champions Resilient Commuities

I’ve just had lunch with Thilo Boeck, who is a colleague at De Montfort University who works in the Faculty of Health and Life Sciences, and who’s research interests include Amplified Leicester. Thilo is an advocate of communities, and the individuals who make them up, being able to determine their own agendas for self-development in a resilient way. As Thilo puts it, “reliance is the ability to work with adversity in such a way that one comes through it unharmed or even better for the experience.”

So it was good to discuss how DemonFM operates as a community of resilient media producers and volunteers. We talked about the high levels of engagement from the volunteers with DemonFM, and the way that they help to develop and pioneer a whole range of digital skills, capability and competence, but without having a centralised driving force at the centre. DemonFM is about the volunteers themselves developing their own identity and sense of esteem as they learn, experiment and challenge the established notions of what a radio station is about.

Thilo shared what he thinks are the four important characteristics of resilient and amplified communities are:

Highly Social – well DemonFM is a great networking opportunity and gives volunteers the chance to meet with people who are similarly minded and discuss their passion for music, sport, news, or whatever. DemonFM definitely falls in to this category. Who wants to listen to radio produced by people who don’t like people?

Highly Collective – we’ve spent a lot of time developing DemonFM as a social media organisation, with a flat structure that seeks to avoid hierarchies, cliques and production bottlenecks. Instead, DemonFM works best when individual volunteers get together, make something happen by sharing their expertise, and tackle problems by consulting with each other, while at the same time celebrating the differences that exist between volunteers and seeing diversity as a strength rather than as a weakness.

Highly Improvisational – this can definitely be said of DemonFM. The station has been described as an ‘adhocracy’ where things are dealt with as they arise and are managed with a minimum of structure, systems, protocols and regulations. It means that individuals have to take more personal responsibility for their actions and the actions of others than they might otherwise be expecting, but what a way to learn, and how much freedom is there to act when you can just get on with things. This, of course, is a challenge that not everyone can rise to, but it’s certainly fun trying.

Finally, Highly Augmented – DemonFM is dependent for its status on it’s relationships with other groups and partners. The station is bourn from a partnership with the Faculty of Technology and the De Montfort Students Union, so augmentation is in the blood. But as the station develops, event more emphasis is being given to how the station forges new partnerships, wins new allies and supports other emerging groups around Leicester and beyond. Collaborations with Citizen’s Eye, Exposure, FD2D, Leicester Comedy Festival, De Montfort Hall, Curve, Phoenix, and many more groups around Leicester are starting to come to fruition.

The aim now is to keep pushing for DemonFM to be recognised as a significant collaborative partner with many more amplified and resilient community networks, and for the station to cement it’s reputation as a provider of innovative and creative media, founded on the skills and aptitudes of the volunteers and students who run the station.

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