Fire Starter Update

With the Fire Starter Festival rapidly approaching, we thought it would be a good idea to start a monthly blog, to keep all of our sparks and fire starters up to date with all the latest news and events. For our first post we have some stories from people who have attended some of the taster events we have been running over the last few months, as well as information on some of the big events we have planned for the actual Fire Starter Festival in January 2017. We’ll also share a breakdown of exactly how you, your friends and your networks can get involved and become fire starters!

If anything in this blog sparks your interest please email us. We are always keen to share stories, blogs and other fire starters events.

 Karen and Kirsty, Chief Fire Starters


A 21st Century Public Service – Launching the Fire Starter Festival

The conversations we have had with people all across public services whilst planning and scoping events and opportunities for Fire Starter Festival seem to have all drawn on a core theme – that of transforming our public services for the future.

Recent research – including ‘The 21st Century Public Servant’ – indicates a paradigm shift in public service: one characterised by services co-designed with citizens and with a far greater emphasis on experimentation, improvisation  and collaborations.
The Fire Starter Festival provides an opportunity to explore this shift in paradigm. It is unique in that it is being co-produced by services themselves, illuminating the ways in which we are already changing: the small fires that have been kindled; the learning about how these are impacting on professional identity; as well as considering the bonfires of practices and procedures that no longer serve us well. The aim is to inquire into what is happening, as it happens, with openness and curiosity, and a willingness to use the learning to shape the future of public service.
To ignite the Fire Starter Festival we will be holding a launch event looking at the idea of a 21st Century Public Service, hearing stories and examples from people and services already trying these new ideas. Registration for this event is now open. If you have a story that you think you might like to share at the event, please contact Karen.



Breakfast Club

If you’re looking for a place where people understand that you’re trying to do something different and can give you moral support, and possibly practical help, the Fire Starter Breakfast Club might be it.  Photograph of Breakfast Club attendees

The Breakfast Club is a monthly space for all fire-starters, quiet disruptors and system-shakers, risk-takers, rebels with a cause and civil disobedience makers. You may see yourself as all or none of these things but that doesn’t matter. It’s not about the labels, it’s about the work.
If you want to find out a little more about how the breakfast club works, Keira Oliver has written a short blog on the last meeting. If you fancy joining in the Breakfast Club you can join us:

  • 9 Nov 2016, 8.30 – 10.00  – Starbucks, Leith Street (near the Omni Centre)
  • 14 Dec 2016, 8.30 – 10.00  – Starbucks, Leith Street (near the Omni Centre)
  • 11 Jan 2016, 8.30 – 10.00  – Starbucks, Leith Street (near the Omni Centre)

Walking Westport to Westerhailes

Over the last few months we have had lots of meetings and taster sessions with people from all across the public service landscape in Scotland. These meetings have really helped us to understand your ideas and the kind of work you are doing. The taster sessions have also been a catalyst for new ideas and events.

20161003_090128.jpgElaine Lawther, NHS Education for Scotland, Lorraine Gillies, Audit Scotland and Pete White, Positive Prisons, all met at our first taster session in August. By the end of the day they had started planning a walk for the festival. Elaine shares their story with us below:

Thanks to the Firestarter Festival, three very different organisations are coming together to explore the links between communities, civic space, public service and how money is spent and counted!  Positive Prison Positive Futures, NHS Education for Scotland and Audit Scotland are hosting a walk from the shiny offices of Westport, along the Edinburgh canalside to Westerhailes.

Come rain or shine, the walk will invite individuals to draw on their observations across the miles, exploring the link between their roles in the finance community, the civic and public spaces they walk through and the people they meet along the way. 

The aim is to set fire to narrow definitions of value, community and outcomes that may result in short term decision making and limited civic engagement.  Although the event, scheduled for Tuesday 24th January, has a focus on financial governance, it will be of interest to anyone who wants to explore and shape the connections between the communities we live in and support, and how our performance is measured and valued in our public management frameworks.”


Registration for this event is now live. 


Host a Fire Starter Festival Event

There are examples of innovative work happening all across Scotland. We hope that you will join our festival and host your own event to share what you’re doing.
We are hosting a few events during the Fire Festival, but we’re really keen for others to catch the sparks and create their own small fires of change.
You may have an event already planned for January 2017 which could be ‘badged’ as part of the Festival, or you may want to host a bespoke event on a theme or topic that aligns to our ethos. This short guide outlines some of the benefits of hosting a Fire Starter Event.
If you would like some help thinking through how you and your organisation could get involved please email Karen.Lawson@gov.scot or Kirsty.Merriman@gov.scot


Sparks and Kindling

We have already had a number of people and organisations, from Shetland to the Borders, contact us with events and ideas that they want to share during Fire Starter Festival. Below is just a small sampling of some of the sparks and kindling already emerging. If you have a similar idea, or want to connect into one of those below, please contact Kirsty.

  • Human Library – looking at equality and diversity through personal stories
  • 100 Stories of Co-production
  • Bonfire of Performance Measures
  • Playing with Fire – playful facilitation methods
  • TeachMeets – sharing innovation in education
  • ‘Sparks’ Education reform
  • Pathways to Prosperity – looking at economy and how we work
  • Participatory Budgeting

All Fire Starter events can be found on our EventBrite page. Events are being added on a weekly basis, and we will send out further updates as the programme for the festival shapes up.

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