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Thanks, Kevin - I'm sure much good came out of Our Society. But as a network, rather than as a space for conversation, I do think it failed: it ended up sapping energy rather than generating it. But I hope that it will have helped people think and make connections, and those natural networks (not powered by Ning but by people's own interests) will grow and continue, and be used for good at a time when we need all the good we can muster.
Toggle Commented Jul 2, 2012 on When networks drift at Neighbourhoods
Great stuff - and as you'd expect I agree with lots of this. But how about place as home, the everyday milieu where people construct their ordinary lives?
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The second point, on human capital, is absolutely right. That's not to say we don't need physical regeneration, but physical developments that don't develop people will soon become redundant. We need to develop people so they shape their cities as they want, rather than assuming that they'll sign up to clone visions generated by others. That brings us on to LEPs and enterprise zones.Do they have the capacity or the skills to develop human capital? If not, what do they bring to the party? The most effective role I can see them carving out is that of local intelligence providers - a useful if limited function. Calling for more powers and resources for LEPs may be an answer to this. But it turns them into just the kind of unaccountable quangos they were set up to replace. Time for democratic city-regions maybe - metropolitan counties by another name?
Really interesting post, Kevin, and I look forward to the sequel! I've been having a number of conversations about social networks and community development/organising/activism lately...
They could try keeping the biscuits but having fewer meetings. Bigger savings, happier councillors. Much happier council officers.
Toggle Commented Feb 12, 2010 on Total Biscuit at Centre for Cities
A pile of useful ideas here. Two comments: first, I think you need to qualify your statement about how much big projects matter. Some do - strategic stuff like Crossrail or a high-speed East Coast line. I'd question how much some of the regeneration-through-shopping schemes need to go ahead: we'd be better off without a lot of them. The second comment, which is related, is about the role of the development industry which has passed off so much junk as regeneration over the last decade and has shown little aptitude for developing shared solutions if they involve sharing profits. I think a little creative destruction wouldn't go amiss if the survivors are the kind of developers who would sign up to some of your ideas.
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Ironic, isn't it, that Anne Power should get a 'lifetime achievement' award at a ceremony that celebrates a lot of the things she's most opposed to - the 'shiny new buildings' approach to regeneration and the idea that you can transform places through property development. You'd have thought that now, more than ever, there'd be a recognition that regeneration needs to be a continuous response to structural change and market failure, demanding a much wider set of skills and a more nuanced approach than the property industry can offer.