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An Ubele gathering – Monday 13th August, 6.30pm

August 2, 2012

Greetings Ubele brothers and sisters,

Contrary to usual advice, please print this off and read!


I hope that we can host a Ubele Sisters’ (re) gathering at the same time as the brother’s meeting on 13th August as  Michael has just agreed to host us.
So please can the sisters read below for venue and time and also RSVP to let us know if you can attend – it has been more than 6 months since we last met  and it would be good to reconnect if you are available.
I have not forgotten the great work that Ade has put into the draft business plan and will hopefully we can make some time before 13th August to review it in earnest.
Also please can we have some feedback on the Ubele logo so we can adopt one for our branding – thanks!
I know some of the sistren led sub-groups which formed after the January gathering have been meeting in earnest and it would be good to have updates when we meet.
I gained a lot of insight from working as part of the Innovation Studies team at Wits Business School, Johannesburg these past 6 weeks, especially as there is a big shift towards ‘innovation for social purposes’ in the ‘South’ – which is what Ubele is all about (except at the moment it is focused on us, as African’s in the Diapora).
Also there is an interesting report I picked up in SA which about social innovation in Europe (amongst several written articles and books).
I keep asking myself if this is such an exciting, emerging field, and we as black people in the South are leaders in for example reverse innovation or frugal innovation why aren’t we fully and properly represented in this space….yes, I  know why..but should it continue to be the case?
What is social innovation some people ask and what has Ubele got to do with it when we talk about the need for ‘conversation’ and ‘dialogue’?
One of the academics at Wits University recently produced this working definition for the Colloquium we hosted last week:

Social innovation refers to new strategiesconceptsideas and organizations that meet social needs of all kinds – from working conditions and education to community development and health – and that extend and strengthen civil society.


Social Innovation refers to new ideas that resolve existing social, cultural, economic and environmental challenges for the benefit of people and planet. A true social innovation is systems-changing – it permanently alters the perceptions, behaviours and structures that previously gave rise to these challenges. Even more simply, a social innovation is an idea that works for the public good

The Ubele ‘conversations’ are an important starting point for us to convene around and to begin to surface some of our most stuck and challenging social issues and then for us to be able to create teams of interested and experienced people to explore some of them more deeply and to begin to create social innovations  i.e. to design and try things we have never tried before as a community which might help us become unstuck. 
Many of us here as black people in England are already social innovators – we have created interventions for the benefit of our community (for social purposes)  which were new at the time and had never been tried before…..what new models, practices or services did you develop and implement in your particular career? I am sure you have least one example which would be worth reflecting on recording and evaluating..perhaps we can start with that as a ‘Check In’ question when we next meet….what social innovation did you create in your work?
Some of the areas and questions that I believe we now need to reflect on as a community and as such need to create innovations to meet them are:
How do we respond to an increase in the number of black elderly community (many of us in the initial Ubele group are 50 plus) ? What are the housing, health. community support and other needs as we move into our third age (what models might work for us as we try and keep and .or make new linkages with Africa, Caribbean and the Americas)
What are the changing and emerging needs of our young people that we need to find differing responses to – no more mentoring programmes pleeezze – I believe  we need to design some new and very different types of  interventions – what might they be and where are the young people in it?
How do we ensure that the current leaders who are aging and/ or dying  pass on their wisdom, insight, knowledge and connections  in a meaningful way before it is too late for them and us and how do we celebrate and recognise them as ancestors and leaders before they pass on…..and how do we grow the next generation of community based leaders?
As you know I have more questions than answers (and am driven by the desire for us to find answers as a community) and as many of you already know my BIG question is HOW ARE WE GOING TO SUSTAIN OURSELVES AS A COMMUNITY HERE IN THE UK OVER THE NEXT 30 YEARS?
Together we can create new solutions – so please decide to join the conversations first and not get frustrated by the desire to  jump to action  too quickly (but to make space to reflect in-between so that we can co-create). 
Innovation (for any purpose) is slow and incremental, messy and is about employing one’s most creative juices , we have much work to do as a community and can leave it to no one but ourselves!!
Please confirm you attendance at either of the meetings (for men or women) on 13th August. 
We look forward to connecting with you then.

Yvonne Field

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