Some thoughts on Best City outcomes

The only test of 'best city' is not a position in a league table, but some very personal answers to a complex set of questions, which may include.... Is this the 'best city' for me and my loved ones? Is this the best place for me to make a life of fulfilment, dignity and pride? Will I find people that are willing to challenge and support me with compassion? Will I find opportunities to be stimulated, provoked and changed? Will I find it possible to connect with others with whom I share a common cause? Will I find the space and support to do my best work? Will I find myself in a political, social and cultural system that accepts my values and beliefs? Will it encourage the production of goods and services necessary for a becoming existence or will it do almost anything in pursuit of growth? Will it respect and nurture micro-enterprise, sole traders, makers, community groups and individual activists as much as it 'establishes proactive relationships' with 'large corporate employers'? Is this a place where I can help to shape a better future for my children and theirs? What kind of 'city development' processes would be necessary to allow the majority of us to be able to answer most of these … [Read more...]

Making Progress Through Austerity

There can be little doubt that these are relatively tough times in the UK, and the minds of many are focussed on how best to make progress when it feels like everything is being cut. But most of those who are thinking about it are the professionals, who control budgets for the delivery of services or front-line service providers trying to figure out how to stop things getting dangerous as they are stretched further and further.  The assumption is that the job remains to be done, that they are the ones to do it, and they need to figure what they are going to do to make the best adjustments that they can. But supposing they took a different tack?  Suppose they invited citizens in to explore the challenges that they face and how they might be met, how ordinary citizens might be able to use their resources, time, knowledge, skills and sometimes perhaps cash, to help? So, for example, we might invite citizens to explore issues around poverty in an area, and what they might be able to do about it.  And we might end up with something like Disrupting Poverty in Leeds ask people to think about what they can do about empty properties in Leeds and end up with something  like Empty Homes ask residents to explore how … [Read more...]

How Should We Recognise a Successful Economy?

Seems to me that everyone thinks a 'successful economy' is critical to our future, but what characteristics would a 'successful economy' exhibit? The Ideal? It would exhibit private sector led growth Environmentally sustainable Reducing levels of relative poverty Reducing levels of health inequalities Increasing levels of health and well-being Increasing levels of employment with jobs that are doing 'good work' or as Cllr Walshaw suggests 'dignity of endeavour' Providing opportunities to work based on the culture, skills and passions of people as well as the commercial goals and employability demands of employers It would serve all people - rather than distort them to serve its demands It would provide access to services necessary for all to live a becoming existence The Current Reality? It would exhibit private sector led growth That's it. The wealth created may then be used to build a better society.     … [Read more...]

Jane Jacobs on Neighbourhoods in Action

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z99FHvVt1G4 Pay attention to what local people want?  Now THERE is an idea. … [Read more...]

Inward Investment – What’s the problem?

Inward investment - the short cut to a prosperous and fair city where all of our communities can flourish? But, what exactly is it? It is the process where an investor believes that this is the best place to put their money to get a secure and sufficient return.  They may invest by setting up a factory or, more likely these days, an office or call centre.  And most cities employ specialist teams to attract inward investment - to present the best case for their city or region as an investment proposition. But it can go further than this. We may be able to offer specific incentives to investors to bring their money and their jobs to our city.  We may provide them with low or no-cost infrastructure, or other benefits such as an enterprise zone where they may enjoy high speed broadband, simplified planning requirements  and reduced business rates. So inward investment becomes a highly competitive, and sometimes very expensive process to get those scarce investors to being their money to our city.  Inward investment teams are under pressure to deliver, and the dynamic gets interesting as sassy 'investors' play country off against country, region against region, city against city and even neighbourhood against … [Read more...]

Why I am not Celebrating Job Creation by the Supermarkets

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WxFQPT1L7Jw … [Read more...]

The Age of Stupid

http://vimeo.com/2992103 … [Read more...]

Hope is the Power of the Powerless

‘Hope is the power of the powerless’. The real quality of leadership, lies in its power to inspire hope and associate it with coherent actions designed to make progress. Because hope is not a plan... … [Read more...]

Paul Seabright on The Supply of Shirts

If there were any single person in overall charge of the task of supplying shirts to the world’s population, the complexity of the challenge facing them would call to mind the predicament of a general fighting a war. One can imagine an incoming president of the United States being presented with a report entitled The World’s Need for Shirts, trembling at its contents, and immediately setting up a Presidential Task Force. The United Nations would hold conferences on ways to enhance international cooperation in shirt-making, and there would be arguments over whether the United Nations or the United States should take the lead. The pope and the archbishop of Canterbury would issue calls for everyone to pull together to ensure that the world’s needs were met, and committees of bishops and pop stars would periodically remind us that a shirt on one’s back is a human right. The humanitarian organization Couturiers sans Frontières would airlift supplies to sartorially challenged regions of the world. Experts would be commissioned to examine the wisdom of making collars in Brazil for shirts made in Malaysia for re-export to Brazil. More experts would suggest that by cutting back on the wasteful variety of frivolous styles … [Read more...]

Paul Seabright on the Supply of Shirts…

If there were any single person in overall charge of the task of supplying shirts to the world’s population, the complexity of the challenge facing them would call to mind the predicament of a general fighting a war. One can imagine an incoming president of the United States being presented with a report entitled The World’s Need for Shirts, trembling at its contents, and immediately setting up a Presidential Task Force. The United Nations would hold conferences on ways to enhance international cooperation in shirt-making, and there would be arguments over whether the United Nations or the United States should take the lead. The pope and the archbishop of Canterbury would issue calls for everyone to pull together to ensure that the world’s needs were met, and committees of bishops and pop stars would periodically remind us that a shirt on one’s back is a human right. The humanitarian organization Couturiers sans Frontières would airlift supplies to sartorially challenged regions of the world. Experts would be commissioned to examine the wisdom of making collars in Brazil for shirts made in Malaysia for re-export to Brazil. More experts would suggest that by cutting back on the wasteful variety of frivolous styles it … [Read more...]

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