It's been the People's Powerhouse conference this week. Once again, I was asked to play a small part in hosting short Lightening Talk presentations from 8 different people. As ever it was inspiring and troubling in equal measure. Sometimes it's heartbreaking to listen to the stoic stories of people who do so much for others, such as refugees, with so little resource, and seemingly up against a hostile system. But they carry on, they find the money, they work harder, and they make connections at events like this.
It's great too that entrepreneurs and community activists get to share the same space. One of the talks was by a young woman called Emma who has a jewellery brand Aster and Lion with many of the same values that I wrote about yesterday.
I also heard Nazir Afzal speak again and he always inspires. He was posing the question as to whether the North should take the knee. It was followed by powerful testimony from people who encounter everyday racism. It's just not good enough is it? We all have to play our part as allies wherever we can. Yesterday he was in conversation with Kim Leadbeater (Chair of More in Common and Ambassador for the Jo Cox Foundation) and the sister of Jo Cox. Again, it was an emotional and inspiring discussion. How do we better get along with one another in such a hateful and divided world? To hear them both speak the language of peace love and understanding was humbling. And I have to conclude that having your own echo chamber extends way beyond who you follow and block on Twitter.
I come away from these events with plenty of ideas and good intentions. But there was a phrase used yesterday by Nazir that really struck home. Not enough people say "I don't know". Leadership sometimes requires humility, and more importantly, the ability to listen. I liked for instance how the Metro Mayors were invited to sit in and listen to ideas and encounters, like the one I hosted.
Edna Robinson, chair of the People's Powerhouse, is without doubt one of the most inspiring people I've had the pleasure of working with. The origin of the movement was a reaction to a time when the Northern Powerhouse was a limp slogan being delivered from the top down. And it's as relevant today as the government have disgracefully cut the international development commitment and made half hearted reviews and pledges on a series of Red Wall infrastructure schemes. Today was a rare ray of hope and a true joy to be involved. Next year they even said I can DJ. It'll be an honour.