Hanging Out With Democracy’s Hackers

Our guest contributor this week is social business nomad Josiane Smith, who will be taking a multi-part look at some of the ways you can spend your time having fun, giving back and contributing to London’s growing social activist scene at the same time. First up, we look at a unique members club and community space featuring a growing network of brilliant minds….

‘Never before have we experienced this level of collective intelligence in one room…’

Welcome to Newspeak House. Located on an unassuming street in East London, this is where civic hackers, software developers, UX designers, amongst physicists, journalists, philosophers, and sociologists come to hang out.

#hololens #cyberchap

A post shared by Søren (@sorenrags) on

The House has 132 members (who pay a one-off joining fee of £50.00 and a regular donation of £25.00 each month). Events – many of which are open to non members – come in different formats from Book Clubs, to Brexit Strategy discussions; from the Future Use of Digital Tools in Social Change, to the preliminary presentation for a Cryptobar installation (ps. If you’re interested in cryptocurrency-friendly places in London, check out GOtilo’s lowdown here).

There is also a fellowship for seven members at a time. This fellowship offers the opportunity to deep dive into the networks and ideas that surround Newspeak House, its members and its founder, Ed Saperia. The rent for fellows is currently half-subsidised by Ed for the duration of their six months at the House – but alumni members stay engaged by attending regular fellows’ dinners, going on Fellows’ Retreats and more besides. Ed told me:

“The idea is that the fellows don’t stay engaged because of what I organise for them; but for the network they develop through their time here.”

I particularly enjoy the weekly Ration Clubs. They feel like being hosted at a good friend’s (very large) dinner party, with home cooked food and beers. There are events run by numerous organisations, such as Transparency International, Parliament Digital, mySociety, Open Rights Group, Loomio, P2P Foundation, Oxford Internet Institute, Wikimedia, Courage Foundation, MakeSense, London Futurists, Radical Housing Network, Democracy Club, 38Degrees, and more.

A post shared by Alex Parsons (@alejparsons) on

Currently, Newspeak House is renting out its community events space to a well-known whisky blending company to help pay for its running costs. It has calculated that it needs 500 regularly paying members to keep the events space fully open and affordable to any (informally vetted) community or charitable initiative; as well as to make its fellowship programme completely free in future.

Fancy joining? I’d recommend it for sure.

It’s ok to…#challenge #share #move #ask #homelesshack #london #rulesforlife

A post shared by L A U R A 🚲 (@laura.j.boyle) on

For more information visit the Membership Page, Website or Facebook Page. But be warned: you’ll never look at technology, democracy or modern life the same way ever again!

PSST: You’ll get the lowdown about initiatives like this as soon as we get them, if you’re also a member of our Facebook community group: London’s ethical city explorers. See you there!

CommunitySocial entrepreneur scene