I was encouraged this morning to see a tweet from Tom Riordan, CEO of Leeds City Council that suggests that when we look at Sir Bob Kerslake’s report for the 2070 Commission into city and regional inequalities, ten years of the Marmot review into health inequalities and the climate emergency that we need a ‘complete reset’.
A complete reset.
I remember Richard Florida, an academic and practitioner of urban regeneration for many decades, wrote a book about a decade ago arguing for what he called a great reset in urban regeneration . And for him the reset was to be built around a fresh understanding of how regeneration happens. The book was sub-titled – How New Ways of Living and Working Drive Post-Crash Prosperity
Talking specifically about the regeneration of Pittsburgh, he said…
The most successful examples…result not from top-down policies imposed by local governments but from organic, bottom-up, community based efforts. While…government and business leaders pressed for big government solutions – new stadiums and convention centres – the city’s real turnaround was driven by community groups and citizen-led initiatives. Community groups, local foundations and non-profits – not city hall or business led economic development groups – drove…transformation, playing a key role in stabilising and strengthening neighbourhoods…Many of…(the) best neighbourhoods…are ones that were somehow spared from the wrath of urban renewal…Richard Florida – The Great Reset
It is not about getting citizen led groups to do the work of the state, but about engaging the state in the work of the citizens. Making a transition as far as possible from ‘authority’ towards ‘enabler’. This really is a massive shift. A paradigm shift in practice, skills, behaviours, values, identity – even purpose. Everything shifts.
This requires community development workers to not be ‘bought’ by the state to foist policy on neighbourhoods. But to recognise that their role is to facilitate enterprising communities and not to be an extension of the state with a smiling face.
To put communities in the lead.
I’m not sure what Tom has in mind when he talks about a complete reset but I hope some of this very different thinking gets some space in our thinking about health, culture, economic development, education, housing and sustainability.
I’m sure that there are many who won’t agree that a complete reset is needed. Especially those who benefit from the current system. But perhaps it is time that those of of us that do want to see things change found our voice?
If you work in the voluntary, community or social enterprise sector and would like to talk with peers in Leeds about how we might shift the paradigm we have room for a few more at this event on March 12th. Shifting Paradigms…
David Lumb says
Have had dialogue with Richard Florida in the past and yes, ‘bottom-up’ inclusion is the way forward. However there needs to be a ‘cultural-shift’ in the UK to create a sincere ‘mutual respect’ between those who govern and those of us who are governed.
Before we ‘reset’ we must ‘rethink’ – an inclusive process involving all citizens out-with the established institutions and influencers through a very log term iterative process that will require a substantial shift in understanding of the latent power and resource trapped in our communities.
Our now financially impoverished three level structure of national, regional and local government needs to now look to the people they govern to release their limitless, and so far, untapped resource. Our current concept of devolution in the UK will only deliver the ‘paradigm shift’ that we desperately need when we have established the missing fourth level of neighbourhood governance.
Maybe we should look closer to home for inspiration.