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Mads Ryle - 10 Feb 2018


In which we present: the firegram!

In late January 2018 some Campfire members and friends met up in Brighton & Hove to discuss "what should be the purpose of a Brighton Beacon?"

Setting up local Beacons is a key aim for Campfire in 2018, enabling connections made via Campfire to bear fruit through concrete activity in our own communities. To support that we wanted to share some insights and ideas from our own meeting in case they can be a help to others as they think about how to structure and facilitate their own.

Feedback and discussion welcome!


The Basics

TIME: Saturday afternoon, 2-5pm

There is always more that you can do and say but 3 hours was probably about right for this size group at this stage. You could always think about having a social after...

PLACE: The Rose Hill Tavern

A not-for-profit community music pub with low hire fees, a glitter ball and an ethos perfectly suited to Campfire. And an actual log fire.


Plenty of tea and coffee and Campfire member @JennyBarrett brought heaps of delicious food which definitely made a difference to the atmosphere of the meeting.


We anticipated between 10 and 20. This was a decent number for this kind of discussion. People who came were local Campfire members plus a few friends. The majority had been plugged into conversations which began a few weeks before about setting up this meeting. Communication was via the Campfire website and on Campfire's facebook page.


The Prelims

This particular meeting was the result of:

- a couple of smaller, more informal initial meetings in Sussex among Campfire members to get the ball rolling

- followed by a web call (using Zoom) bringing together people from Lewes and Brighton area to decide on an event

- it was decided that a more internal (rather than public) meeting to talk about focus and purpose for a Brighton Beacon would be the most useful at this stage and a date was chosen on the Zoom call

- the Rose Hill was suggested as a venue by one member and another went to check it out and agreed it would work. Hire was £10 p/h. This was split between people who came on the day.



- hired the venue

- let local Campfire members know about the time and date

- small planning group had online meeting to discuss structure and facilitation for the event, as well as who would bring what

- promoted the event on Campfire again, and via Campfire Facebook, as well as to individuals


Useful stuff

  1. big paper
  2. firegram (see below)
  3. pens
  4. easel/flipchart/bluetack/masking tape
  5. kettle, hot drinks, mugs
  6. food/snacks and stuff to eat them off/with
  7. music
  8. circle of chairs
  9. nice lighting
  10. voice recorder


The Meeting! What we did...


- had the kettle on the go for when people came in

- seated in a circle

- quick welcome from first facilitator. This included: information about the space; plan for the meeting; emphasis on collaboration and invitation to all people to suggest ideas; checking any particular needs in the room which the group should know about

- we also invented the 'firegram'. This was drawn ahead of time and conceived as a framework for recording the day's discussion. The concept was: in the fuel (coals, logs) we wrote down the resources and skills we have as a group; in the flames we wrote down our ideas and calls to action; the smoke rings at the top were for the impacts that these ideas could have in the wider world (the smoke rings are yet to be filled!)


- go-round intros: we suggested people give name, where they are based, their driving passions, and any skills or resources they bring with them. This took longer than planned for but enabled us to get a really good sense of the capacities in the room and possible connections.

- quick stretch/energizer

- quick rundown (from Pete) on Campfire vision for Beacons, and values and projects of Campfire more broadly

First half discussion

- initial fluid discussion on "what should our purpose be as a Beacon?" and where we want to be by the end of the meeting.

- key part of the discussion in the B&H context was around – do we focus on certain issues? Or do we look at facilitating and connecting existing efforts, given that there is so much already happening in the city?

- this conversation was quite meandering and lacking focus at times but it gave the group the chance to dissect a bit what Campfire means to them and different perspectives and priorities.

- we did identify key themes/issues that people wanted to discuss more deeply after the break

- elements of this discussion were written onto the firegram



The break was very social and relaxed. The food was amazing and as always good at bringing people together. We put out a sheet on the flipchart titled with the question: What should the purpose of a Brighton Beacon be? Each person was encouraged to write their ideas on this sheet during the break. We agreed that we would come back after the break to work in pairs/small groups to go deeper into these specific ideas.

Second half discussion

- we opened the second part of the meeting with a quick breathing and focusing exercise which the second facilitator led. People were invited to focus in on what they want to get from the meeting by the end of the afternoon, and what they hope to contribute.

- there was an invitation to the group to help guide the next part of the meeting, which someone came forward to do as our third facilitator

- we broke into small groups/pairs, based on people's instincts about who they would like to talk to + the ideas written on the flipchart paper. These groups had a chance to discuss their ideas and interests in more details


- Feeding back: groups were invited to share a concrete action or conclusion from their group discussion. The facilitator encouraged people to be as specific as possible, including in saying what concrete actions would be taken as a next step.

- This all went onto the firegram.

For example...

...we had a group interested in craftivism/upcycling who suggested disseminating better info about waste and recycling; personal upcycling projects; learning a new skill and passing it on

...we had a pair who came up with a plan to run a facilitated music-making event to promote wellbeing

...another group discussed linking up Campfire with a local festival, and the possibility of a partnership between the festival and a homeless support organisation

...another pair focused on the macro view of Campfire as an "amazing communications vehicle"

...another on how you connect goodwill and resources present in Campfire with need in the local community, and connecting across boundaries by challenging ourselves to offer these resources to groups which aren't our natural comfort zone socially and politically


To finish we paired up with someone we hadn't spoken to yet that day, to share something you got out of the day and acknowledge the other person's presence and contribution. Have a hug if you'd like to!

At the end we put a sheet up for people to leave contact details on for others to take down.


We had a great time! You can read @KateEdgeley's write-up of the event here on Campfire...



Nadia Chambers

This is great Mads and thank you- my question is how did you get people interested in the idea of setting up a beacon in the first place? I’d love to join a beacon and I don’t currently have the capacity to take the lead in setting one up and organising what you’ve described so well above. Any tips on how to persuade someone else to take the initiative?


Mads Ryle

Thanks Nadia! Well it definitely helped that @Pete Lawrence had been in the area recently and drumming up some energy for a local Beacon! I know exactly what you mean about not having capacity to drive it yourself...I would say that you could put the cart before the horse in a way, and set up the Beacon here on Campfire, even before it 'exists' as such. That is very simple to do. Then invite CC members to join it, and befriend them on the site - from there you have a platform to discuss and organise via the Beacon, and can see who is available to do what. Even if it's only a handful of you having tea in someone's living room at first (which takes very little organising!), that's a good start (and exactly how it started down here). Good luck!


Nadia Chambers

Thanks Mads- I need to have browse of who here on CC is local to me!

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