Archives for March 2009
Julian Dobson usefully reminded me this morning;
Cracking on with ideas is good. Rooting them in community development principles and practical action is even better.
But what are these principles? A quick bit of web research found this list from CDX in Sheffield:
Community development workers support individuals, groups and organisations in this process on the basis of certain values and practice principles.
The values at the core of community development are:
- social justice
- working and learning together
- sustainable communities
- reflective practice
The practice principles that underpin these values are:
- respecting and valuing diversity and difference
- challenging oppressive and discriminatory actions and attitudes
- addressing power imbalances between individuals, within groups and society
- committing to pursue civil and human rights for all
- seeking and promoting policy and practices that are just and enhance equality whilst challenging those that are not
- valuing the concerns or issues that communities identify as their starting points
- raising people’s awareness of the range of choices open to them, providing opportunities for discussion of implications of options
- promoting the view that communities do not have the right to oppress other communities
- working with conflict within communities
Working and learning together
- demonstrating that collective working is effective
- supporting and developing individuals to contribute effectively to communities
- developing a culture of informed and accountable decision making
- ensuring all perspectives within the community are considered
- sharing good practice in order to learn from each other
- promoting the empowerment of individuals and communities
- supporting communities to develop their skills to take action
- promoting the development of autonomous and accountable structures
- learning from experiences as a basis for change
- promoting effective collective and collaborative working
- using resources with respect for the environment
- promoting the participation of individuals and communities, particularly those traditionally marginalised / excluded
- recognising and challenging barriers to full and effective participation
- supporting communities to gain skills to engage in participation
- developing structures that enable communities to participate effectively
- sharing good practice in order to learn from each other
- promoting and supporting individual and collective learning through reflection on practice
- changing practice in response to outcomes of reflection
- recognising the constraints and contexts within which community development takes place
- recognising the importance of keeping others informed and updated about the wider context
This looks like a pretty good list of design criteria.
- Anything missing?
- Anything better?
Reading through this list and reviewing some of the current enterprise and entrepreneurship programmes being delivered in the name of community development and regeneration I am finding it hard to find (m)any that don’t significantly fail several of these tests of principles and values.
Just re-read the Unlocking the Talent paper from HMG March 2008.
Here are some of the bits that have stuck with me.
This is a government committed to unlocking the talents, not of some of the people, but of all of the people. We want to see every region, city, town and neighbourhood do well, not just the few. Our national prosperity and competitiveness depend on our ability to tap into the creativity, energy, ingenuity and skills of the British people.
Well yes – but we have got more prosperous over the last 30 years but much less happy. The drivers for this are not purely economic…
We need to unlock the talents of the British people, so that each of us may rise to our full potential, for the benefit of all of us.
But this is about more than individual fulfilment and success – it is about our place in the new world developing around us. Britain can no longer be a country held back by disadvantage and unfairness, but instead be a nation firing on all cylinders, and ready to embrace the future. With the rise of the economies of China and India, we need to unlock British talent so we can be competitive in this rapidly changing global economy.
Ditto comments above – this is not all about global competitiveness and ‘laggards’ holding us back. The rationale for fulfilling potential is not about prosperity – it is about humanity, becoming, identity etc.
Government at all levels must be focused, imaginative and courageous to create opportunities for people to flourish. A key element of this is to forge more influence, control and ownership by local people of local services such as employment, health, education and transport.
To tap into the talents of all of the people, not merely the few, we need to involve people actively in:
- improving deprived areas through regeneration and promoting work and enterprise
- encouraging active citizenship, and reviving civic society and local democracy
- improving local public services by involving local users and consumers; and
- strengthening local accountability.
Community empowerment is the process of enabling people to shape and choose the services they use on a personal basis, so that they can influence the way those services are delivered. It is often used in the same context as community engagement, which refers to the practical techniques of involving local people in local decisions and especially reaching out to those who feel distanced from public decisions.
Interesting that this empowerment stuff is only targeted at ‘deprived areas’. Strikes me that doing this in some of the more affluent communities could produce remarkable results too. This is about fulfilling human potential – everywhere.
Promoting work and enterprise and strengthening the economic base of an area – and so connecting the supply and demand sides for labour – will be central to reversing decline.
Yawn…..This is not about providing employment fodder…..
- relies absolutely on the active participation and engagement of local people and communities, and not on just the articulate and organised, but on the broad majority of residents and groups traditionally excluded from consultation exercises
- creates lasting solutions by giving local people the power to control their destinies, create enterprises, channel investment and income, and to involve local people in social enterprises, mutuals, and co-operative ventures
- tackles the underlying causes, rather than the symptoms of decline. Regeneration strategies will need to tackle market failures that act as barriers to economic growth and employment as a means to reversing decline. Evidence shows that those in employment are happier, healthier, and less likely to be involved in crime; conversely poor health can prevent people getting into work
- targets investment at the appropriate spatial level, with effective co-ordination between neighbourhood, local, sub-regional and regional levels, as well as between national agencies
- takes account of the fact that successful regeneration will require private sector investment, for example in delivering new homes and in creating jobs.
Regeneration aims to bring opportunity to areas that are in decline, and to empower people to take advantage of those opportunities. The decline of an area is often caused in the first instance by structural economic change and a reduction in employment. Parts of the UK have experienced substantial deindustrialisation and loss of jobs since the 1970s, particularly during deep recessions in the early 1980s and early 1990s. In some areas there has been a rapid turnaround in employment; in others a cycle of decline has been set off.
This is a fairly standard analysis of the reasons for decline.
When industries pulled out things went wrong.
I believe things went wrong when the big employers moved in.
Policy and practice focused on providing a largely compliant workforce that was fit for purpose. Employer engagement ruled. All parties were more or less happy with the deal. At the time, and for many years after, it (arguably) worked reasonably well.
A bureaucratic mindset prevailed – characterised by patriarchal contracts between workers and employers which rewarded compliance. Industrialists and managers came up with the plans. Unions negotiated for pay and conditions and the majority just had to pick sides and choose leaders – on whom they felt they could depend.
A deep mindset of dependence set in. Dependence on employers, dependence on unions. DEPENDENCE. Generations learned how to successfully play the dependence game. Many still play it.
Entrepreneurial qualities were lost. Autonomy was devalued.
The genesis of the problem was not when the industries left, it was when they arrived.
For nearly 30 years now I think policy has largely neglected this deep change of identity, personality and self image that swept through many of these communities.
If we are serious about unlocking talent, then as well as providing skills training, CV clinics, classes in self employment, business planning and entrepreneurship we have also to tackle these issues of identity, personality and self image. And this is best done through conversation – not classes.
Challenging, caring, compassionate but powerful conversations. Conversations that accept, catalyse and confront. Conversations that are characterised by high trust and strong relationships. Conversations that are genuinely focused on helping to unlock potential and to enable potential to develop. Conversations that start from where people are at – and follow them where they need to go. Not the usual conversations that steer people towards opportunities predefined by the planners.
Instead we breeze into these communities and ask naive questions;
- Have you got a great business idea?
- Ever thought of starting a social enterprise?
Alinsky’s Rules for Radicals
Rule 2: Never go outside the experience of your people. The result is confusion, fear, and retreat.
Rule 3: Whenever possible, go outside the experience of an opponent. Here you want to cause confusion, fear, and retreat.
Is it true that I must limit myself?
Is it true that I have a definite “ceiling of potential”?
Are some people’s ceilings built higher than others’?
There are indeed, mental ceilings built above people, limiting them; limiting their potential, limiting their resources, and eventually generating their finalities.
These structures are not physical formations. It would take a man many days to build such a powerful, sturdy structure in physicality.
Ceilings of potential, on the other hand, are created in one’s mind simply by personal decisions. When we choose to harbour limiting beliefs we build our own personal ceilings. Therefore, we are only limited by ourselves.