AGM 2019: Winning hearts and minds

This article was published in 2019, in Magazine 142.

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Relaunched event provides inspiration for a new year of campaigning

New year, new format: our Annual General Meeting on 19 January certainly rang the changes. After many years of evening meetings, the event took place during the day, welcomed not one, but three guest speakers (all female) and only one cycling campaigner between them. The venue was also different: the new Clay Farm Centre, just off the Busway in Trumpington.

To begin, our panel of speakers had ten minutes each to introduce themselves and share their wisdom. Serial cycle campaigner Sally Hinchcliffe spoke about the evolution of Pedal on Parliament from its inception in Edinburgh in 2012 to a range of local ‘pop-up POPs’ today. She also told us about the work of ‘We Walk, We Cycle, We Vote’, which worked together with ‘grown-up bodies’ Sustrans and Cycling UK to persuade Nicola Sturgeon to double the cycling and walking fund to £10-12 per head in Scotland. Local businesswoman Faye Holland works in corporate communications, but also has an insight into the public sector through her work facilitating the Greater Cambridge Partnership sounding group. She told us that campaigning is all how about how we communicate with people. It is very hard to change people’s minds, so we need to think carefully about who we are talking with, what their perspectives are and what stories we should be telling to achieve our outcomes.

Our third speaker, Lily Macfadyen Tomson, had direct experience of this with her work with University of Cambridge lobbying group, Positive Investment. She successfully persuaded an ex-BP employee who was a key decision-maker to divest in all coal-related funds, by taking a non-judgemental approach; not preaching, but taking the time to listen to his thoughts and motivations. Although it seems risky sometimes to take the humble approach and let go of being ‘the only one that’s right’, Lily has witnessed the rewards of seeing those who were once cynical about an idea go on and apply it themselves long after the lobbying is over. She finished by saying, ‘If we start with a belief that everyone has a reason for doing something, a reason that is logical for them, then I think magical things can happen.’

Following an engaging session of questions for the panel, the event broke for lunch with an opportunity to discuss different aspects of Camcycle’s work with volunteers leading on areas including responding to planning applications, the magazine and events. Then it was on to the formal AGM business: a look back at 2018 and forward to 2019, the approval of accounts and the minutes of the previous AGM and the voting for the election of this year’s trustees. There was also a new initiative: the introduction of the Camcycle awards, a heart-warming occasion as many hard-working and (often unsung) heroes of the Campaign were honoured for their enthusiasm and dedication to the cause of more, better and safer cycling. As with the new-style AGM, this was a success and will be repeated next year with a few tweaks to make things even better! Save the date now: Saturday 18 January 2020.

TIPS FROM OUR SPEAKERS

Sally Hinchcliffe:

  • Listen, listen, listen!
  • Use positive imagery as an effective way of changing minds.
  • Think about the barriers you’re erecting that you don’t notice.

Faye Holland:

  • Don’t start with the problem, start with the outcome and work back.
  • Put yourself in the equation: we buy ideas from people.
  • Tell a story.

Lily Macfadyen Tomson:

  • Realise you have a seat at the table.
  • Start with togetherness. Listen and find common ground.
  • Let go of being the only right person in the room.

The Inaugural Camcycle Awards

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Campaigner Award (1)

Matthew Danish, for his tireless campaigning work which has really made a difference and changed the outlook of cycling in Cambridge

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Volunteer Award (5)

Kiu Li for her consistent support and enthusiasm as a volunteer

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Campaign of the Year Award (3&4)

Street Cycle Parking project – Simon Nuttall and Camcycle intern Emma Pritchard for their well-planned and executed campaign work

Hall of Fame Award

Lisa Woodburn – a hidden hero who managed our newsletter distribution for 18 years and 100+ issues

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Public Employee Award (2)

Simon Manville of the county council and GCP cycling projects team for making Cambridge a better place through schemes like the Cambridge Greenways

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Newcomer Award (6)

Liz Irvin for her fantastic work on the Mill Road vision campaign

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New Member!

We were delighted to sign up a new member at the AGM, Finlay Knops-Mckim, who has recently started cycle commuting from East Chesterton to Toft. We asked him to tell us more:

‘Since I started commuting in July, my opinion of what it’s like to cycle in Cambridge has changed radically. While I am enjoying the journey, it takes a certain amount of grit and adrenaline to push through some sections of the city. For people who are less confident, a bit older or wary of traffic, it’s really not a great place to be a cyclist a lot of the time. There are some good cycle lanes, but no consistency – a lovely stretch of tarmacked cycle lane will dump you straight into a busy road or just deteriorate. I’d like to see a complete network that prioritises segregation between cyclists and traffic rather than several disconnected splinters. I’d heard about Camcycle in the news and on social media and I’m aware that this is a group of people who are trying to make cycling better for everyone.’