These are extraordinary times. COVID-19 is changing the world as we know it.

In the light of the Ministry of Health guidelines, I write to advise that we have decided not to continue to hold public meetings for the time being.

It’s great to have data-led decision-making being the basis of the advice we are getting and a resolute government guiding our way through the complications.

The advice is not to hold indoor gatherings of more than 100. We get close to that number on occasions but with caution in mind and awareness of the people who come to Fabians are in the risk demographic, we feel it is prudent to go to alternative ways to ‘excite debate’. We could find it difficult to trace people from seating patterns in venues.

It is also likely that venues may become restricted so planned events may need to be cancelled at short notice. As an alternative we hope to try a couple of strategies.

One is asking keynote speakers on topics of interest to us, if they would allow us to post a copy of their material in a paper, a PowerPoint presentation, a podcast, a link to an interview or a video. We can then post these to our site and perhaps enable interaction with the person to enable a Q&A.

We do not want to distract contributors with persistent discussion but keeping abreast with content continues the chance to engage and keep our community stimulated and aware of persuasive argument.
Second, we can consider using interactive technology to bring debate together. We could use Facebook or Zoom, for example, as ways to create exchange and networks of conversation. We would value some feedback on this.
·      Are you familiar with these platforms?
·      Do you feel confident you could participate?
·      Would you use it if we went down this track?
Of course, we can help here by posting guides on how to access such platforms. It may take a while for us to become robust at it but it can be the way we continue to inform members on issues and debates that are relevant to a progressive future.
It is amazing to see how much traffic there is informing the emergent post-viral world. Some seeks a speedy return to traditions but the more interesting stuff sees huge innovation in what might become the new normal – greater equity, social justice and better outcomes for the environment and climate.  For example; 
From a Next Systems Project: blog on: Learning from the crisis
Social Europe: How governments need to step up
So let’s get through this. It changes the dynamic of our events but does not prevent getting together in for now in smaller groups in pubs, homes and in networks.
Be strong, be kind and be Fabian

Phil Harington


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