• Philip J Connolly

The Book of Numbers

At the UCL mobile academy they teach you how to run a business on your mobile phone. I learnt a complexity of knowledge but I also learnt some simple things too. Three is the magic number. You need a hustler to attract the investment, a hacker to do the coding and a hipster to build the organisation. Most businesses grow from these three blended ambitions and skills. Many grow from the hipster finding the other two. It is not so dissimilar from how bands form though they more typically benefited from the union of two creative minds. The Disability Resilience Network (DRN) wish to capture the possibilities of peer to peer learning through establishing an online library of disabled people's insights communicated through user-generated video content. The Disability Resilience Network seeks to capitalise on the wisdom of the crowd.

The next challenge for a group with a social mission and a campaigning zeal is to get to twelve like twelve committee members or twelve affinity group members or twelve apostles. You need consensual decision making if possible, to value emotional intelligence on the same basis as intellectual intelligence, to be positive, to have clear objectives and to have fun, if you are going to succeed. It isn't simple or easy but it happens somewhere every day. Usually people find it easier to unite in opposition to something e.g. a decision which may have harmful consequences and if there is a clear timeframe in which to act so much the better for galvanising opposition or support. The DRN has gone past twelve. We ask for two years of your time to overhaul key Treasury policies such as the Green book setting out the rules on Government procurement.

Next the target number is 150 which is just about the number of names you can relatively easily remember or the numbers that live in a typical street. To get to this number you need commitment, active engagement with other people and a team of people to do the asking not just once but often. It is often the case that people need to be asked if they would wish to join an established group and more than once. Fortunately such is the desire of other people to bond and share that this too happens somewhere almost every day e.g. the formation of resident's associations.

The next magic number is the optimum size of a village community around 20.000 according to Schumacher. To arrive at this number usually requires well-honed communication channels such as public relations, strategic social marketing, social media etc. Many businesses achieve this number of loyal customers as do many civic institutions such as trade unions. The Linkedin community has all these skills.

How many people do you need to win over to have influence? Three quarters, half, two in every five? No the good news is that studies suggest that 10% yes even as few as one in ten becoming convinced of an argument can persuade the nine out of ten of the need to change policy. It may be more important how strongly anchored is a new progressive idea or argument than how widespread is it held! Disabled people have historically been slow to self-organise possibly due to barriers of inaccessible communication or travel or the dominance of the disability provider community e.g. organisations set up to support specific medical conditions or resolve specific challenges such as the availability of braille. Thats a proud history but the future demands something else.

The Disability Resilience Network is a network so that it can permeate existing organisations and have influence on them. By being a network it becomes possible for the person at the bottom to have an equal status with the person at the top. Through being networked this can happen anywhere and everywhere. Ideas and answers can flow through the network to support the formation of resilient communities influenced by the experiences of disabled people.

Most towns and cities have access groups focused on accessibility and independent living. Now the challenges are bigger. The priorities are now economic ones. The new numbers more terrifying: numbers like 1.5 degrees hotter or the sixth extinction. We now need to organise both quickly and sustainably. If hazards like the pandemic increase exponentially so must how we respond to the hazards too. Our needs may be lost in a world looking to reset following Brexit, Climate Change and the pandemic. You may have missed that some economists idea of a reset is a new world currency. So I argue for an alliance of the equalities, anti-poverty and environmental movements. We need to feature as part of the answer to other people's problems and not just our own. We need to operate at other scales too. Join us. Make us a rapid response. Get us to 10%. Make us an over night sensation.

Free to join. Complete and submit the membership form at www.disabilityresiliencenetwork.org

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