What determines the future of a community? Whether it becomes a place where most of its members live happy and fulfilled lives or ones that are full of misery and fear?
Does it depend on the decisions made by planners and politicians in national and local government? On what we might call ‘the planners paradigm’ where architects, planners, policy makers and property developers shape the places in which we live.
Or, does it depend on which entrepreneurs decide to operate in the community? On whether ‘Big Business’ comes to town or not? On whether we can encourage enough of the creative class to join our community? On what we might call ‘the entrepreneurial paradigm’ where the presence of many vibrant and creative entrepreneurs (that special breed) provide employment, products and services for those of us somehow less gifted? Who create the wealth and taxes that provide the rest of us with our livelihoods and public services.
Or does it depend on the extent to which everyone is supported to recognise their passions and develop their capability to act in ways that make things better for themselves, their families, their community and the planet as a whole? On the extent to which people are valued by others in the community and able to use the resources of knowledge and experience available to them to make progress? What we might call ‘the capability paradigm’.
Of course all of these things have an impact. If the planners provide poor infrastructure, or if big business hoovers up money from the community and filters it back to distant shareholders then it may be more difficult to develop a sustainable and vibrant community. But not impossible.
I believe that communities which learn how to respond to and support individuals and groups within their ranks who are seeking to make progress; who learn how to access, harness and develop capabilities and potentials will steadily become both more cohesive and harmonious. That ‘the capability paradigm’ holds the most effective key to building great communities. Communities that embrace it, and learn to master it, will be reported by those living in them as good places to be. They will start to become wealthier and healthier than their more fragmented, less connected counterparts.
But most importantly they will become more fulfilling places to live.