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Linked-In being the un-navigable system that it is, it is hard for me to provide the source of this, but I thought it well-worth sharing. via Ronan O'Beirne on Linked In, via Paraic Hegarty. Continue reading
Posted Jun 25, 2014 at Neighbourhoods
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So the UK and Germany – according to some media coverage of a recent ONS report - are the 'least neighbourly' countries in the European Union. The report reproduces a hard-to-find figure from the Third European Quality of Life survey (3EQLS) which used a five point scale for the following statement: ‘I feel close to people in the area where I live.’ Some people might think that's as much about belonging or cohesion as it is about neighbourliness. For those who agreed or strongly agreed with the statement, the average across the EU apparently was exactly two-thirds. For the UK it was a miserable 58.4 per cent – very narrowly superior to Germany’s 58.3 per cent. Here are two little curiosities. Cyprus appears at the top of the list of countries on this measure, with almost 81 per cent of respondents saying they feel close to people in the area where they live. However, Cyprus also has a very high rate (2.6%) of people who say they never have face-to-face contact with friends or neighbours outside the household (the UK figure is 1.4 per cent, similar to most countries). And Table 3 of the EQLS report on subjective well-being (2013) offers a finding which perhaps might have appealed to the more exploratory journalists in the recent coverage. It gives ‘the worst and best’ for all European countries in the study. The UK does quite well on the loneliness score, but has the following three ‘worsts’ – I think that means that, out of 27 European countries, the UK population is the most consistently knackered (whether rested or active) and with the lowest sense of neighbourhood belonging (which is what the latest ONS report confirms). ‘Consistently knackered’ can also serve to describe your blogger's state of health these past few months, hence the shortage of contributions in this space, but I hope the drought may now be over. Continue reading
Posted Jun 20, 2014 at Neighbourhoods
hi Matt - if you include an email address with your comment I can contact you (it will not be displayed on the blog) - kevin
All credit to the Italian judicial system for (a) finally getting former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi to do something useful, and (b) for having a civilised legal condition that says no convicted criminal over the age of 70 should go to prison. This morally minuscule man is to carry out a paltry few hours a week working with volunteers (he is not a volunteer) at a hospice for Alzheimer patients. What will he be doing? I’m reminded of a traditional question in the community and voluntary sector: who cleans the toilets? In the community centre, in the day centre, the village hall – who gets to do this essential job? These are people we should have some respect for. It does suggest a role for Berlusconi if he ever wants to gain some genuine respect. Continue reading
Posted May 10, 2014 at Neighbourhoods
Last winter I prepared a lengthy literature review on older people and social isolation, for an exciting research project being run by WoodGreen Community Services in Toronto. The paper is now available and I hope will be very useful for the range of material it draws together. It covers material on the built and green environment; quality of life, health and well-being; and social support and connection. The project sought an understanding of the state and breadth of knowledge about the social isolation of older people in urban areas, with particular attention paid to housing form, and formal and informal care. The coverage is of international material in English. It was an overview rather than a systematic literature review – the huge literatures on ageing, health, quality of life, loneliness and so on, combined with a limited budget, precluded close reading of methodologies used in the material described. The bibliography covers nearly 500 separate items. Consistencies in the research emerge of course, but there are also a few fascinating inconsistencies – for example around the connection between religion, older people’s social networks, and well-being. Two characteristics of the literature struck me in particular as I was trawling and reading. The first is the stark invisibility of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender older people in any content that is not specifically about them. In the review I have distributed the material that is available, across several sections, so as not to compound that effect. The second is the number of calls that are made for increased participation of older people in decision making processes, alongside comparatively few accounts of such involvement. I’m indebted to Diane Dyson at WoodGreen and to Angus McCabe at the Third Sector Research Centre, University of Birmingham, for their support throughout. Continue reading
Posted May 8, 2014 at Neighbourhoods
Street market At the plant stall Danny is talking about the weather it's been so fine but cold. For April. One of me customers lost a load of stuff to the frost on Monday. So everyone says it's going to rain tomorrow, it’s my only day off, we organised a barbecue an' all didn't we. With the neighbours. And I can't stand them. Garden centre ‘My neighbour tried to give me one, they’re unstoppable. I don’t think she realised I’ve got one that’s reaching over her fence already.’ Continue reading
Posted Apr 21, 2014 at Neighbourhoods
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Not much has been made of the quiet irony that the city of Glasgow will host the Commonwealth Games a few weeks before the country’s citizens vote for independence in September. This is surprising given the inescapable imperial connotations of the event and the rich vein of ironic defiance that seems to define the Scottish people. Until today, the organising body entertained seriously a proposal that the opening ceremony for those games should include the live demolition of the ‘Red Road flats’. We were told that this act was planned both as commemoration of a part of Glasgow's social history as well as a statement of the city's regeneration. If the proposal seems truly crass, so does the sense that those in question provoked the spirit of defiance and under-estimated the response. Today it was announced that the plans have been cancelled ‘because of safety and security concerns’. I’d describe the defiance of the organisers in this case as unworthy. It shouldn’t have required 15,000 signatures to a petition: a modicum of common sense would have done. My question is about how such a manifestly disrespectful and insensitive idea could have got as far as the agenda of the sub-committee of any sub-committee tasked with planning the event, let alone approved. How do we come to have people in public office who think the idea of watching homes being demolished is consistent with the celebration of international sporting endeavour? Perhaps the adoration of spectacle has got out of control. The spectacularisation of culture is not a trivial issue: many commentators have bemoaned the demise of subtlety and nuance in popular culture over the past couple of decades, as various media emphasise ‘impact’ above forms of culture that more modestly stimulate reflection. And we’re talking about places where people have lived. Surely in very few circumstances, even in the most blatantly necessary cases – think Fred West or Ian Huntley, if you must - can the destruction of a home be free of sadness. The notion of home is resonant with symbolism and with shared, long-lasting meaning: loss of home is always poignant and disturbing. It is a matter of deep shame for those concerned that they did not pause to reflect on this, but instead were somehow seduced by infantile imagined delight in the spectacle of falling totems, cascading breeze blocks and apocalyptic dust clouds. Continue reading
Posted Apr 13, 2014 at Neighbourhoods
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Who needs comedians, when we’ve got David Cameron. “Jesus invented the Big Society 2,000 years ago – I just want to see more of it,” Mr Cameron told an Easter reception in Downing Street. “If there are things that are stopping you from doing more, think of me as a giant Dyno-Rod to clear any blockages.” (In the Indie). Continue reading
Posted Apr 11, 2014 at Neighbourhoods
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Occasionally my amateur interest in the history of the commons pokes through – for example while exploring the history of eating in public, questioning the present government’s attitude to public ownership, reflecting on the system of gebuurten developed in medieval European cities of Belgium and the Netherlands, or simply delighting in the history of neighbours. Perhaps we'll all be thinking and writing more on the topic, on the grounds that ‘It is almost a law of contemporary social life that the more commons are attacked, the more they are celebrated.’ This quote comes from an article in a special supplement on the commons, published by the good folk at Community development journal. Here's the blurb: Commons sense: new thinking about an old idea All articles permanently free to download Editors Mary McDermott, Tom O’Connell and Órla O’Donovan This Special Supplement aims to introduce the efflorescence of commons activism and thinking to people who are new to the old idea. In addition to celebrating how the commons can enrich our perceptions of the present and possible, the contributors caution us to look critically at contemporary discourses on the commons, recognizing how some actually reinforce capitalism, albeit with a human face. The articles demonstrate a high degree of reflexivity, along with clear and critical assessments by commoners themselves of their own projects. In articles focused on contemporary urban, water, knowledge and traditional music commons in contexts ranging from South Africa, Bolivia and Ireland, commoning right here, right now is considered. True to the spirit of the movement itself, many of the debates taking place between commoners with different ‘common senses’ are explored. The collection helped me appreciate how so many of the arguments and warnings about threats to the commons were offered by Ivan Illich years ago. It also gives us all a chance to reassess the relation between the commons and community development: could we have the latter without the former? As Maria Mies points out, reflecting on the village where she grew up, ‘no real community could exist without commons. All persons in the community were responsible to maintain and care for the commons, even children. This responsibility was not enforced by formal law, because it was evident to everybody that people's survival and subsistence depended on the commons and on free communal work.’ So take a look. Here you can have a think about paradoxes in the current momentum behind open access academic publishing, observing Orla O’Donovan’s ‘search for cracks in the pay walls that commodify and enclose much publicly subsidised research that should be common knowledge.’ You can reflect on the perception of traditional Irish music as ‘an artistic and cultural commons’ and the ‘annexation’ of sites of performance by the commerce of copyright. (Or as I did, just ponder how an author can describe himself as ‘radically rooted’). I recall that Illich’s works were out of print for some years in the UK, presumably because there was ‘no market’ for them. Perhaps that’s as strong an indicator... Continue reading
Posted Apr 10, 2014 at Neighbourhoods
The recent silence hereabouts is due to sub-optimal health. I've been clearing my throat. For days. Hmm, nothing wrong with this blog that a few posts won't cure. Oh look, here's a note on 'How to consult the public', over on Freedom from Command and Control: 'The words are important. The word ‘consultation’ has been replaced by the words dialogue and conversation. The conversation should be described as ongoing, constructive and mature, it is never a childish, unproductive one-off. To have a proper conversation, you need plenty of written documents. Make these documents comprehensive, polished and final. Seal off the consultation document with a front cover, logo and strapline. This creates the impression that the proposals are early ideas, open to change rather than a fait accomplis. Advertise the consultation with the original phrases ‘Have your say’ and ‘We’re listening’. Illustrative with photos of ears and megaphones. The look you are going for is jaunty, fun and patronising.' 'An event with more than 0 members of the community is a success. If no one comes, ask staff who live locally to ‘wear a different hat’ and contribute. If you are disappointed with the turnout, remember the dialogue is ongoing, not a one-off. No one can reach ‘Hard to Reach’ people. If they do reach back, you’ll end up with more writing up to do. At this point, the phrase ‘consultation fatigue’ becomes your friend. Rather than trying again, arrange an internal discussion on the causes of apathy in the community. If no one comes, the loop is closed and your work is done. Thanks (indirectly) Simon! Continue reading
Posted Apr 9, 2014 at Neighbourhoods
Here’s another of those puzzling comments from a Social-Exclusion-Denier that seem to characterise our current elite… According to Andy McSmith in the Indy, Liam Marshall-Ascough, a Conservative member of Crawley Borough Council in West Sussex, has obstructed a plan to introduce a food bank in the town hall, because he frankly does not think it is necessary: 'People aren’t in poverty in terms of going without food,' he tells the latest edition of the Crawley News. 'You try booking a restaurant in Crawley on a Friday or Saturday night. You can’t do it.' His local restaurateurs won’t be best pleased at this discouragement of trade (if there are any of course: one literal explanation for his remark could be the complete absence of said facilities, but this seems unlikely). More to the point, how do local residents feel about having a representative capable of such disarmingly irrational thought? In particular, how do those who didn’t vote for him feel about those who did? This is hardly an isolated example – stories of bizarre thinking on the part of UKIP representatives are especially common these days (e.g.). Is this a trend peculiar to our age? Is it the consequence of effortless publicity, that means people with ideological incontinence leave their undigested waste in public so consistently? Continue reading
Posted Mar 26, 2014 at Neighbourhoods
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A few years ago I took part in a city visioning project in Peterborough, in the low-lying east of England. In a 3D modelling exercise, some of us were putting homes on stilts. I recall that it had to be pointed out to one or two local stakeholders that by 2030, they will probably be under water. (Image via). The lesson was that this hadn’t been taken on - although recent months of flooding will by now have helped to spread awareness among all but the most bone-headed and selfish (naming no names, some of which are here). I was reminded of this while flicking through the Guardian’s article and images about floating cities. These places already exist, after a fashion – enormous cruise ships for the flitting unlocated wealthy, who apparently would rather keep circumnavigating the globe than pay taxes to a state – but not yet in the sense envisaged by a few architects, planners and utopians such as the Seasteading Institute. Either way, in the promo material the sea is nearly always crystal clear and flat. Incidentally, I don't take much interest in films, but I'd appreciate it if someone could direct me to an apocalyptic post-flood movie I saw part of once, which had memorable lines like 'They did something bad, the ancestors, didn't they?' You bet they did. This is fascinating stuff, and I’m all for an ambitious dose of what amounts to blue-sea thinking, every so often. It’s easy to drift off into some unrealistic scenarios though. Here’s the Seasteading take on the personal advantages of living in a floating village, for example: ‘Personal Freedom - People will soon be able to live in floating cities, and enjoy the freedom of the high seas. As the last unclaimed territory on the earth, the ocean provides the ability to live peacefully without the encyclopedia of laws and tangle of bureaucracies present on land. Seasteaders will be able to start fresh, live with minimal regulation, and explore a bold experiment with personal freedom.’ You might need Californian contact lenses to see things that way, but to me that’s just a cue to think more closely about the nature of neighbouring in contexts where people may not have much choice in the kind of floating neighbourhood they have to inhabit. What kind of scale are we talking about? What kind of neighbourhood might it be, for instance, if you can’t just get up and walk across some notional blurred boundary into the next one? What are the governance implications? What kinds of social network might we come to depend on? And who will occupy the physical high ground? Continue reading
Posted Mar 20, 2014 at Neighbourhoods
Sorting through some papers today, I came across a fieldwork note from a project I was evaluating a couple of years ago. It involved a bunch of young people looked after, on an outing with a hugely interesting environmentalist (among others). My note, verbatim: Stuart had been talking about birds and wildlife for about 1.5 hrs when one of the girls (age about 15) said “I don’t mean to be rude, but I’m not really interested in birds.” I posted about this outing at the time, reflecting on the sensitivity of the young people, who know all about the power of feelings and the way others tend to disregard them. There’s also a short article about the project here. Continue reading
Posted Mar 19, 2014 at Neighbourhoods
Radical community work journal will go live in October 2014. 'We are inviting practitioners, activists, community organisations and academics to send us material for inclusion in the the first edition. Please email the editors with material, questions, ideas, etc.' Continue reading
Posted Mar 14, 2014 at Neighbourhoods
'The world is full of people who want to tell others how they should be living, when what they should be doing is sitting down with them and finding out what their lives are really like, and why they're like that in the first place.' Photographer Jim Mortram in a recent Guardian article. Continue reading
Posted Mar 6, 2014 at Neighbourhoods
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Postcodes are commonly associated with the lottery of poor service provision, but not so much with being common. I learn from a BBC magazine article by Jon Kelly today that many people are preoccupied with postcodes and dissatisfied with their own. Is this more a cause of class divisions, or an effect? If we didn’t already live in a highly stratified society, maybe these arbitrary strings of letters and numbers would be a matter of universal indifference and do no more than serve their function of distinguishing one place from another. But I think it’s more likely that the very act of ‘distinguishing one place from another’ implies hierarchical arrangement for many people, and the prospect of superiority and inferiority, in a way that our culture likes to reinforce. Kelly reports that ‘aggrieved groups who feel their postcode somehow doesn't reflect their sense of place are campaigning for change’ – I didn’t realise you could – and doing so with ‘a separatist zeal’. It strikes me that you have to ‘come out’ as a snob in order to organise or participate in a campaign of this sort. You can’t just mumble behind the net curtains, you have to make public statements about yourself in relation to others; and you have to make those statements with other people and to other people. It’s this readiness to accept being identified as a snob – almost as if it were something to be proud of – that I find most curious. Is our age uncharacteristic in this sense, or is this a phenomenon universal across history and geography? (Is there a social anthropologist in the house?) (And what's their address?) Continue reading
Posted Mar 4, 2014 at Neighbourhoods
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It can be hard to find a good word to say about estate agents. This morning I had a conversation about their role (or potential role) as sponsors for neighbourhood online networks. There are examples around and you can see why it works for all parties. But whoever heard of an estate agent who says they will invest their profits into community development? Say hello to Urban Patchwork: ‘We believe that all estate agents should be run as social enterprises, where, after running costs and people’s salaries, all profits are pumped back into the local communities where they operate. This would mean that estate agents would contribute positively to empowering the less well-off in their area, instead of contributing to pricing people out of their own communities. People would also want to use them because they would know their money is benefiting their community as a whole, helping to create a more collective and diverse environment in which to live.’ It’s curious how without thought we come to accept certain kinds of service as belonging in the private sector, and others as being in the public sector. But there are some examples that force us to reflect. Most people probably think the fire service, for instance, is rightly a public service; but its origins are in the private sector (insurance). Many people might suppose that the lifeboat system is publicly-funded, and perhaps it should be, but it’s entirely charitable. The great thing about the social enterprise movement is that it stimulates fresh thinking on these sorts of questions without getting tangled in the ridiculous anti-public ideology of the right. Why shouldn’t the work of estate agents be seen as a community service? I’m really impressed. Continue reading
Posted Feb 28, 2014 at Neighbourhoods
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The recent extensive flooding in England was not too bad around where I live, but still it has highighted the ways nature will take revenge when abused: sometimes with violence, sometimes with subtlety. Here, the canal level seems to have raised quantities of plastic junk and then left it on display as the waters receded, as if to say, 'Excuse me, you dropped something'. Continue reading
Posted Feb 21, 2014 at Neighbourhoods
First they came for the benefits, and I did not speak out, because I was not on benefits. Then they came for the care services, and I did not speak out, because I was not in care. Then they came for the pensions and the squatters and the spare rooms, and I did not speak out, because I have my own home and some savings. Then they came for legal aid, and I did not speak out, because I have not yet been arrested and accused. Then they came for the teachers, and the nurses, and the social workers, and the health visitors, and the librarians, and the probation workers, and the firefighters, and the environmental experts, and there was no-one left to support me. (With apologies to Martin Niemoller) Continue reading
Posted Feb 17, 2014 at Neighbourhoods
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Here's a new resource that should help tidy up our streets and possibly even make neighbourhood street play more commonplace: 'Space To Park is a user-generated resource of best practice for those seeking parking solutions in new build residential development. This website showcases a series of developments and sets up a constructive discussion about what works and where, from the point of view of users, designers and other experts.' Continue reading
Posted Feb 13, 2014 at Neighbourhoods
I fear this letter from Keith Flett in today's Independent, referring to the politics of the recent floods in England, is too easily overlooked and it really deserves not to be: A government that promotes austerity measures and claims that Big Society volunteers and the private sector will pick up what the public service can no longer do was always likely to end in a bad place, and now it has. While people in a number of areas are suffering from flooding, it is clear that cuts to the Environment Agency’s budget and staffing have made a difficult situation worse. No doubt some volunteers are helping in flood work, but there are limits. Dredging rivers and saving life and limb are jobs for professionals, and they are to be found in the public sector. After weeks of flooding in Somerset, there has been no evidence of volunteer or private sector dredging operations. Rather, it is the Army who are called into help. It is probably too much to hope that the ideologues of the present government will take the point, but one suspects that voters will. Keith Flett, London N17 Continue reading
Posted Feb 12, 2014 at Neighbourhoods
The bells of St Mary’s church in Ashwell chime every fifteen minutes, day and night. I can imagine that must be fun. But it is said that we don’t like to complain in this country, and maybe you can see why. Understandably a few residents have asked for the mechanism to be disabled some of the time. Tsk, moaning minnies. The ‘Save the Bells’ campaigners – I’m not making this up – are determined to resist such prissy disregard for tradition, and will turn litigious if their precious din is threatened. Just ask ‘chimes campaigner’ Chris Pack: "If we have a referendum that asks people if they wish the bells to remain as they are and that referendum is overwhelming, we have the support there and it is captured legally." He added legal advice would also be sought to overturn any decision which turned the bells off. Ah, democracy in action eh? If there is some advantage in subjecting residents to routine chiming throughout the night, it is not revealed to us and I’m unable to guess. It would be interesting to reflect on what these campaigners might do with their time, energy and determination if there were pro-social causes for them to adopt. Continue reading
Posted Feb 11, 2014 at Neighbourhoods
The other day I was contacted by a TV production company seeking my help in recruiting children and young people for a documentary programme about their experience of poverty. Obviously contacts like these are now subtly different, post-Benefits street: but in what way? Would another production company dare to treat people who experience exclusion in the way the producers of Benefits street did? Well, yes, quite possibly. There may be a different atmosphere now, but it does feel just like the no-brainer of press regulation, with plenty of empty words spouted so that journalists can go on manipulating disempowered people in the interests of corporate profit. Against that, I would so much like there to be a broadcast of the voices and experiences of young people like those we reproduced in A series of doors. That could have some impact, and would be worth striving for. But don’t hold your breath, there isn’t going to be a TV version of A series of doors. I passed on the request in a neutral way, but I’ll be surprised if there are any takers. There’s a question here about disregarding this opportunity as being ‘wrong channel’ – in two senses. First, I won’t reveal which TV channel is expected to broadcast the documentary, but it’s one which has done nothing to accumulate trust in the quality of its programmes. Secondly, is there an argument for turning backs on mainstream broadcast media – which, with a few exceptions, have let so many people down through callous, politicised and exploitative behaviour - in favour of all-out social media? Will social media come to outplay TV, in spite of the well-known problems of trolls and trash, where issues of this kind are concerned? Does the Benefits street rumpus represent a watershed in the history of the popular politics of welfare, in which the great artilleries of the broadcast industries are finally discredited and the guerrilla style of social technologies might be seen, retrospectively at least, to right some wrongs? (OK, well let me have my moment of optimism, I need it). If you’re sceptical about the role that media companies play in the creation of an uncaring society, you might want to glance over at the Diary of a Benefit Scrounger: Sue Marsh has blogged in some detail about her experience in this respect. She makes clear that it’s not just the media companies: the government is playing a canny game by declining to debate welfare, as Marsh explains: ‘For some time now, the DWP and No.10 have refused to put anyone up against me. (and presumably other campaigners) at all. At first, 3 (all BBC) went ahead, but the various researchers were all genuinely shocked at the lack of government engagement. All said they'd never known such blanket refusals to debate an issue. Perhaps more sinisterly, they were shocked that invariably the DWP refused to take part unless the stories were edited their way. Iain Duncan-Smith has written repeatedly and furiously to the BBC... Continue reading
Posted Feb 6, 2014 at Neighbourhoods
JRF has some fascinating work going on at the moment under the heading of ‘Risk, trust and relationships in an ageing society’, which includes a theme frequently covered on this blog, ‘everyday, informal support between neighbours, friends, and in communities.’ One of the striking features of this JRF thread is the refreshing focus on the notion of ‘kindness.’ You might not see it being fitted into current government policy all that smoothly, but that’s no reason not to treat it as worthy of research and likely to generate insights. And let’s pay tribute to the fact that this is not a new departure for JRF, they’re building on a decent track record. Two examples: in 2004 they published Building a good life for older people in local communities, a delight which I’ve cited many times; or you could go back to 1998 for their superb study on the importance of ‘low level’ preventive services to older people. Now here’s a recent example of the way this work is going, an interim report by Helen Spandler and colleagues on perceptions of giving and being in receipt of informal help. The work so far is based on a quick and not-all-that-dirty street survey, apparently designed to harvest a range of attitudes (and the associated language) to frame subsequent investigation. What the researchers are trying to do is get at the implicit ‘rules’ surrounding the giving and receiving of help. They note that ‘only a small number of people felt completely comfortable in receiving support from others.’ Religious and cultural contexts have a strong influence, and the tensions around mutual interdependence vs independent individualism soon emerge: ‘Many participants … made reference to Northern working class backgrounds, which they felt valued relationships over material wealth. Yet, that same culture also taught a strong sense of individual independence, which could make the need for help seem like a weakness. In this way, cultures could be experienced as both supportive, and simultaneously as harsh and inflexible.’ A few years ago I drew attention to the work of Lilian Linders in the Netherlands, exploring the significance of the reluctance to ask for help. Lilian’s research highlighted the fact that the imbalance in the provision of informal care lies on the demand side, not the supply side: the extent to which we live in a caring society is constrained by the ‘request scruple’ – a widespread reluctance, for various reasons, to ask for help. It looks like the present project is finding similar issues. ‘Giving and receiving support’, the researchers note, ‘is constantly negotiated within a complex 'moral economy' of familial, local and societal expectation.’ They describe this as an ecosystem that requires cultivation. Families can be fortresses of support, implicitly discouraging help from elsewhere, but there can be examples where asking is disouraged even within the family. One correspondent said: ‘It makes me feel vulnerable to ask. I reckon my family would translate asking for help as weakness.’ At the heart of all this is the tension... Continue reading
Posted Feb 4, 2014 at Neighbourhoods
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I missed this when first broadcast back in December, but R4 are now repeating three programmes under the heading ‘Whatever happened to community?’ Giles Fraser, recently appointed priest in the parish that includes the Heygate and Aylesbury estates in south London, sallies forth in search of a few questions and possibly some answers. Slipping from labelled urban to fabled rural, he solicits views from some insightful folk along the way, including David Goodhart for example. Scale and diversity were the main themes of the first episode, which you can catch for a few more days here, with the remainder in the next couple of weeks. As these programmes go, I thought it was pretty good. At least we got an unequivocal statement from a resident about how the architects and planners had got things plain wrong. This is not trivial when you think how determined architects can be to defend their mistakes. There was also some brief reference to the experience of community over the centuries, and there is plenty to be gained from a more thorough look in that direction, as Emily Cockayne for instance has shown. Scanning the blurb about the forthcoming programmes though, I saw no reference to gated communities. Given the attention paid so far to ‘thick’ and ‘thin’ community, inclusion implying exclusion, and so forth, it would be a curious omission not to use gating and locking and ‘secured by design’ as a lens for further insight: especially if the last programme is to bring us back to the reality of those huge built estates from which we are still learning. I'm also starting to wonder about the widespread assumption that neighbouring in recent decades has been changed fundamentally by the proportion of residents who are at home during the day - the decline of the housewife. I think there is something in this argument, but maybe after an interim period, diverse others are now more likely to be at home, so is it time to test the theory with some thorough research? Perhaps the Royal Mail have some data that could be used? Thanks Martin for the heads up. Continue reading
Posted Jan 30, 2014 at Neighbourhoods