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…
Talking about the transformation of Pittsburgh.
It is not about getting citizen led groups to do the work of the state – which seems to be the idea behind BIG Society – but about engaging the state in the work of the citizens. Making a transition as far as possible from authority towards enabler.
This requires community development workers to not be ‘bought’ by the state to foist policy on neighbourhoods. To recognise that their role is to facilitate enterprising communities and not to be an extension of the state with a smiling face.