Partly to illustrate hope, activities which cast forward and stimulate creativity – as a break from engagement with crisis. We recognise that not all newly arrived residents fit this category, of course.
The Arts can include any welcoming, inclusive creative activity that supports newly arrived or minority community members.
Enterprise/Business can be services, free at the point of delivery, which will add to the enterprise creation expertise and knowledge of our communities of interest.
If you have a group, or project, that welcomes any new arrivals or BME community members in these categories, drop us a line and we’ll add it to our community gazette.
If you write a 100 words or so to tell us what you do, that would be great too. We will support contributors by using our publication skills to develop and promote the work of groups.
In it Cosslet takes to task the political pundit Andre Walker, for his omnipotent vision of the library service in the UK. Namely that no-one visits them anymore and they should all be closed down and the books given to schools.
Is there something Presidential in this decimation of the library service by Twitter?
Rhiannon goes on to thread her story with her use of the public library when young – developing intellectual curiosity, cultural awareness, knowledge of the world and taking up the rich opportunity public libraries offer to graze the landscape of the word, six books at a time.
Original text: In the Spring of 2015 the Adam Smith Institute published an article entitled ‘The End of Local Authority Libraries‘. As the economic ice age of Osbornian austerity descended upon us, the Press was full of cultural turbulence about the closure and operational rigidity of our national literacy assets.
Although the general Press attention has diminished, it is telling that the dilution of the library service has continued unabated, albeit with increasingly diminished media currency, as we have been further overwhelmed by matters of political moment in and about Europe, perhaps.
The website Public Libraries News, in July, declared that now ‘there are at least five hundred libraries that are staffed, if not entirely run by volunteers’. On the one hand, this is a sign, we would argue, that there is profound suport for the local library at grassroots level. But it is also a sign, looking at the plethora of continual changes and negative reviews of library services across the country on the website, that there is no clear, effective and equally profound form of new governance emerging for libraries.
One that, at once taps into localism, yet satisfies the need for an eclectic and near universal access to knowledge and leisure, free at the point of delivery for those who need it most.
The trade union Unison are to hold a National SOS Day on the 19th of October, 2017. Save our Services is designed to show that ‘...libraries are a hub and a haven in our communities. They offer a place for people to work, relax, discover and think.They are a source of local knowledge and history and give everyone access to books, DVDs, music and more, for free or at a very low cost.
But libraries also do a lot more than lend books. Many hold events, anything from story time for children to yoga classes for adults. Library workers help people look for work, advise on using IT, organise talks by authors and so much more‘.
The debate, then, continues to have currency. The Adam Smith Institute argued, in its article by Eamonn Butler, that the free market was the solution to the ‘library deficit’ issue, as to be expected. That exemplars of library innovation, in the shape of American organisations such as Library Systems and Services, were to be the saviours of a moribund library market.
However, research shows that the accession of LSSI to the pinnacle of library stewardship has not been entirely successful in the USA. An earlier article in the New York Times shows how both library staff and users, even in the more affluent cities where LSSI has obtained contracts, have been happy to lead protests. Dissenting voices to the ending of unionised services, diminution of book stocks and antagonism towards the ethics of ‘libraries for profit’.
The Butler argument, from the Adam Smith Institute, saw the then new Birmingham City Library building as an example of ossification of service. The £188 million building began to operate on a ‘self-funded’ basis for events, for example, in the context of author events or arts activity. Both previously seen as draws to footfall for the library service. Indeed key activities in a wider cultural obligation for libraries, we would argue.
However, debate about the capital cost of a building in austere times is one thing, but the Institute author’s position somewhat fails to recognise that it is free market policies which have led to the very fiscal landscape that has so diminished the library service.
If a library is battered by exogenous fiscal policy upheaval, it is somewhat unfair to blame the librarian for lack of service, or diversity in activity, surely?
Is there hope for change? We think so.
We were pleased to see that there is widening acceptance by Councils that the community should have control of libraries as a community resource. At the beginning of August, for example, Derby City Council declared for the cessation of control of ten libraries, which will see ‘…the loss of at least 39 library assistants’ jobs and two library managers, of almost 100 staff who work for the authority. Community groups will get £17,500 a year each to fund their own managed libraries until 2022…’
What is concerning, in this case, is the timetable and the level of grant in aid ceded to the community organisations in the City, to effectively manage the transfer and creation of a new community organisation to deliver the service.
More positively again, Bury Council this month have approved a new community asset transfer plan. ‘The new policy means applications from groups to buy community assets from the council will be considered against ‘key tests’ designed to ensure a deal which is best for the council and residents‘. The landscape of community opportunity grows!
However, it is entirely possible, we would argue, to imagine the creation of community libraries as Social Enterprises, where the not for profit governance model delivers a mix of volunteer and employee led services, bolstered by an admixture of social business services to support and maintain the core library provision.
A community cafe, a learning centre, a gardening or horticultural project…the list could easily be imaginatively extended by a dynamic, active community. The whole focused upon the creation of ‘…a place for people to work, relax, discover and think‘, to remind us of the Unison observation.
If the trade union are having an SOS Day, why do we not start a new think-tank movement, LASER – Libraries as Social Enterprise Renewal.
Write to conversationsEAST if you are interested in social enterprise, passionate about libraries and learning and keen to develop governance-sound, community led, not for profit library buildings.
We’ll publish a web site, host a meeting and give the idea traction?
Additional narrative – 20.08.2017
We have just come across a recent article in Wired by Susan Crawford, where she argues for a resurgence in phiilanthropy to revitalise the library service.
In the text, in response to a recent tweet by Jeff Bezos asking for suggestions about a new shape for his giving, she argues for an Amazon/Bezos programme of giving to libraries.
Developing Jeff Bezos’s current long term view of his ‘social investments’ towards, arguably, a philanthropic delivery that would cater for the short and the long term. Mr. Bezos describes his search for a new intitiative ‘…to help people in the here and now’. Our new library programme, as described, would do that, but also cater for the long term too.
Namely a series of Amazon Memorial Libraries, or Bezos Community Cultural Centres, would benefit the communities they were placed in, but they would also create new readers and enhance human capital in the hinterland of their sites, as well as delivering a major philosophical boost to the image of Amazon as a socially beneficial company.
We understand Jeff Bezos reads every email sent directly to him. We’ll write to Mr. Bezos and make a suggestion supporting a new philanthropic venture into the British library landscape, and explore the models that might be created.
European Week of Regions & Cities
Brussels 9-12th October 2017
A wide ranging sequence of workshops and event in Brussels, that will attract academics, poiticians and business organisations. We think there are elemental workshops that those of us, working in the social economy, will find useful.
Particularly useful is the opportunity to build new networks of contacts ahead of the social, political and economic schism that awaits us in the UK.
The European Week of Regions and Cities and its workshops, debates and networking activities are addressed to:
members of the European Committee of the Regions, members of the European Parliament and national, regional and local politicians;
European, national, regional and local government officials and experts in the field of managing and evaluating cohesion policy programmes;
representatives of private companies, financial institutions and European and national associations;
journalists from European, national, regional and local media outlets;
researchers, PhD or masters students and practitioners in the field of European regional and urban policy.
The typical participant is from the regional or local administration and new to the event, and is travelling to Brussels specifically for the event.
Discover now the 130 workshops, networking events and project visits organised in Brussels as part the 15th European Week of Regions and Cities!
Under the headline ‘Regions and cities working for a better future’, the programme tackles three main themes:
Building resilient regions and cities – #LocalResilience
Regions and cities as change agents – #TakeAction
Sharing knowledge to deliver results – #SharingKnowledge.
28 partnerships of regions and cities, 14 Directorates-General of the European Commission, several networks, associations and other institutions have partnered up for it. The Opening session takes place on 9th October in the European Parliament.
We think there is a new energy abroad in education and training, sweeping the landscape to create new opportunities and outcome for a range of young people. Discover a couple of examples of this new delivery below…the horizon may have just go a bit nearer for young people who don’t seem to quite ‘fit the traditional bill’.
Swarm can offer young people Level 2, 3 and 4 apprenticeship framework options, with the added zest of ‘…innovative enterprise training workshops which develop the mindset and commercial awareness of apprentices’.
You can discover a comprehensive list of the integrated Swarm developmental workshops here. This impressive cast list is designed to sensitise and energise apprentices into an entrepreneurial, developmental and goals achieving mindset.
The Swarm team’s key focus qualification is the Level 3 Diploma in Enterprising Skills in a Business Environment, although the company does offer other opportunities too.
What we liked most is how this entrepreneurial flavour and admixture is seamlessly blended into the training programme for the individual, combining both the needs of the apprentice to perform well to his or her employer’s satisfaction, whilst at the same time creating the building blocks for a mind-changing mentality about what it is possible to achieve.
You can see how the next generation of mainstream Oxbridge business and political leaders are seeking to develop a social good from their careers, for example, in the 80,000 Hours programme. This Ashton led initiative caters for bright young people, we think, who may have fallen through the educational cracks or who are seeking a very practical, resource driven approach to learning and skills uptake to the benefit of business, society and the individual.
We highly commend the Swarm Apprenticeship approach to our readers. See more here.
This new, innovative scheme seeks to engage schools and suitably qualified businesses in a new form of partnership, where the school benefits from the insights and experience of the employer in a ‘… network to create powerful, lasting connections between local businesses and the schools and colleges in an area‘.
It is an idea designed to see businesses helping school senior management teams to develop strategies which link the world of work to the curriculum and energetic adaptability of schools, maximising their local contacts and accelerating the context of their educational outcomes to the benefit of both pupils and employers.
Lord Young has described the Adviser role in this way…
“I propose that Enterprise Advisers would advise head teachers and teachers on the ways employers can engage with the school, drawing on advice from key local partners, including those that offer careers advice. I would envisage that the Advisers are drawn from all sectors of the economy and not only restricted to entrepreneurs‘.
The one is not designed to swamp the other, but to add a richer texture to the offer of all. RSA Fellows can also add a powerful contribution to the development of the Enterprise Adviser network too, we are sure.
In simple marketing and recruitment terms, if I’m building a trusted network or list of individuals dedicated to social good, then lets share some of that trust and fellowship with others in the public sector, striving for the same aim.
The Chair of Changing Chelmsford Malcolm Noble and Ideas Festival Director Leonie Ramondt , and their teams, have put together a well designed and informative Festival programme – with the creative input of the Anglia Ruskin University Design Collective. (Thanks go to Jeff Bray, Becky Lockwood and Daniel Tubl).
Robotics…. Be part of world level engineering breakthroughs, achievements, and products being designed and developed in Chelmsford and Essex. You will have the opportunity to take control and get involved in various activities such as engineering design, 3D printing, using advanced computer models, robotics, aerodynamics, medical engineering, Raspberry Pi and many more. Learn about the change and impact that engineering in Chelmsford and Essex makes nationally and internationally.
Extra Information: Booking required: www.anglia.ac.uk/ community or call 01245684723
Essex Police is 175 years old this year. Nick Alston CBE was elected as the first Police and Crime Commissioner for Essex in 2012. He is currently Chair of the Board of the Association of Police and Crime Commissioners and Chair of the Police ICT Company Board. He will give us an overview of his experience as Commissioner, reflect on policing in Essex and provide some pointers on the police service of the future.
A strong theme of the Festival this year is the notion of Creating the City of the Future. Ideas for city change, walks through the concept of change in Chelmsford and harnessing the power to create – a three part, multi-location event.
Matthew Taylor of the RSA will be exploring the Power to Create the City, harnessing the thematic concepts enagaged in the Society’sChange Aims.
Enlightened City Making
Host: The Royal Society of Arts Venue: Chelmsford Cathedral Date: 21st October, 2015 – 10.00am to 2.30pm
Session One – ENLIGHTENED CITY MAKING
Creativity is at the heart of innovation, enterprise and good places to live. But we are increasingly expected to be resourceful and self-reliant to shape our communities, with the help of amazing digital tools. The RSA says everyone has the power to create and to stival play a role in enlightened, active communities. Using the RSA ‘Change Aims’ we will look at the power to create the city with Matthew Taylor, head of the RSA.
“Inequality in Education: The Future of Education in England – Organised by RSA London Inequality in Education Network hosted by Annette Smith, Education Consultant and member of Turning The Tide.
We are delighted to announce two great speakers: Diane Reay, Professor of Education at Cambridge University & Danny Dorling, Professor University of Oxford. Both speakers are passionate and informed critics of the current education system“.
The booking page on Eventbrite offers you full details of this interesting and informative event. On the booking page you can see the key questions that are to be addressed by Diane Reay and Danny Dorling, with an opportunity for you to tender your ideas and comments on the questions ahead of the event.
‘We are doing this because we think it unlikely that any significant changes will be made unless there is a strong social movement supporting progressive reform and we intend the meeting to be a contribution to the building of such a movement’.
This new research report from the New Economics Foundation (NEF) is a refreshing look at our coastal communities and their economies.
It provides proposals for action, which are leavened through a recognition of history and localised specialist skills. The analysis is elevated beyond the ordinary ‘top down research’ by emphasising the need for socio-political and economic frameworks in coastal communities which re-connect people with nature and the coastal landscape – a series of contours that are geographical, industrial and philosophical.
The report takes us out of the ivory tower and into the sand dunes.
Previous NEF research has already looked at how a low-carbon economy can generate new jobs and economic entities, that can offer secure, decently paid and satisfying work in a more equally distributed economic landscape. See more here…
The essence of the New Blue Deal is to build on existing initiatives and create a mixed framework of five changes and economic thematic deliveries, which are sustainable, inviting and inclusive to the communities of focus.
sustainable fisheries and aquaculture
coastal tourism and related activities
innovative approaches to coastal management
opportunities to re-connect people with nature
‘For the fishing industry, for example, NEF analysis shows that restoring UK fish stocks to healthy levels and promoting lower carbon emissions through
quota allocation across the main UK fishing fleets would mean an extra 457,000 tonnes of fish landed each year, leading to an additional £268 million
GVA (Gross Value Added) and a 24% increase in employment, the equivalent of 4,922 new jobs’.
Source: Carpenter, G., Esteban, A. (2015) Managing EU fisheries in the public interest: Results from the Bio-Economic Model of European Fleets. New Economics Foundation. Results calculated using 2010-2012 performance. New jobs estimate is made up of fishing jobs (11%) andprocessing jobs (89%). Retrieved from: http://www.fisheriesmodel.eu/
The report looks at a variety of UK locations, with fishing being a key focus of course. However, other work is highlighted. Engagement and partnerships that work across responsible tourism, leisure and recreation.
From Anglesey Adventures, a business working in the outdoor leisure arena, to The Venus Company, working in its chain of cafes to ‘…balance customer needs with environmental and social considerations’. We particularly liked the feature on Learn to Sea, a ‘sea school’ project in South Devon. Using the coastal spaces as an educational resource which informs children and young people, but which also carries forward the ideas of sustainability, economic durability and environmental awareness into the next generation.
Here at conversationsEAST we are incredibly fond of the Suffolk coastline, for example. But we look at areas around communities like Great Yarmouth or Lowestoft, with their long tradition of fishing and livelihoods from the sea. Whilst we recognise that ‘Big Oil’ does provide jobs and technical advancement for some sectors of the community, without doubt, creating a recognisable influx of highly specialised employees from external sources.
Whilst this fosters economic activity which is vital, it does not reposition those communities to explore, create and sustain their history with their coastline and enable them to encourage the growth of entry level and intermediate skilled work.
The New Blue Deal does.
You do not need to spend long with the NEF document to see, in your mind, how your favourite stretch of coast can become a thriving community – a nexus of education, social and community enterprise, ocean facing and non-exploitative at every level.
We commend this report to our readers. If you would like to explore and track the New Blue Deal there is a new NEF website available here. http://www.bluenewdeal.org/
It has been a couple of years now since OPM published Rob Francis’s report Unlocking Local Capacity. However, with a new government and a fresh round of cuts in train, the content of the report around how and why unlocking potential is of interest to Local Authorities, remains highly topical.
The detail of the report looks at three key areas…
Unlocking individual capacity
Unlocking community capacity
Unlocking Council capacity
When looking at the individual the report examines the issues of trust, how both residents and elected members perceive each other and the veracity and effectiveness of creating new types of conversation in the local arena.
‘These questions are central to discussions about localism, empowerment and what central government calls the Big Society; but they are being asked with such urgency because acute financial pressures demand it’.
It is perhaps a sign of how difficult these issues are, in dealing with relationships with the local state, regardless of political tone, as much of the observations in the report can, to those of us with long memories, sound a long echo back to the heady days of the New Deal for Communities programmes. (This set of Wikipedia links make for an interesting historical narrative about community change…Ed.)
There is an interesting debate established in the report about the subject of ‘incentives’, or rather about the carrot or stick approach to behaviour change. This will always be a thorny issue to wrangle with, not least because with any positive reward programme some will be rewarded for establishing behaviours that others consider the norm.
Another issue is the perception of ‘deviance’, an uncomfortable psychological nomenclature, when used to describe residents who may have been disenfranchised socially and economically by the state for some period of time.
This video of a recent RSA lecture nicely bridges the first two chapters in the OPM report. Alienation, lack of reality and individual empowerment are all part of this reflection by Sir John Elvidge…
The second chapter of the OPM report looks at collective responses through volunteering, in the context of changing landscapes with joint, collaborative action. We found it interesting, in revisiting this report, which makes much mention of the then current Big Society idea, that volunteering was seen as something new.
This despite a long, long history of community collective action through the charitable sector, arguably dating back to the early Victorian era two centuries ago now. Newness and efforts to stratify and comodify volunteering persist in the thinking of central government still, as seen in the refreshed election promises to incentivise the company volunteer.
The third sector of the report looks at how councils have and are changing in this redefined landscape. New sources of funding for community projects, new discussions with residents about core budget allocations as a means of establishing recognised community priorities and how to avoid ‘resource capture’. That is to say, those who shout loudest get the most!
‘This report makes the case that when it comes to local people doing more for themselves, it is not enough for councils to simply get out of the way; that capacity in most cases needs to be unlocked, not unleashed’.
This summation of the report is telling. It urges Councils to ‘…have a different conversation’. To shift the local authority debate away from ‘what do you need’ towards a focus on ‘what can we all do that would make things better?’
We particularly liked the urgency of the demand that Councils should ‘…keep hold of the boring stuff’. Governance and the workings of the committee are not everyone’s dream aspiration.
Where the tree will be planted, where the tea and cakes will be served and what colour should we paint the container…much more engaging questions in socio-political landscape change?
The Partnership have decided on a development programme to institute a major raffle and an Auction of Promises. The Partnership are looking to develop this ambitious campaign which can be run on an annual basis.
What is needed is someone with the skills and knowledge to act as a ‘raffle’ project mentor.
Ideally, the Partnership is looking for someone who has successfully run a major raffle in the past, who has knowledge of the process, paperwork and also advice on attracting prize donations and increasing ticket sales.
To provide support to the Partnership Project Manager, with an initial meeting for key development advice, and then the sharing of documents or telephone support if required.
If you are in the Fellowship network in the East of England, do you have ‘raffle’ expertise and the time to support The Partnership in this interesting funding development project?
The short video below gives you a flavour of the activities the Timebanking Partnership have been able to facilitate…
Chelmsford Remembers is a Heritage Lottery funded project on the First World War centenary. The presentations and discussion concerned the mental health of Service personnel involved in conflict.
The speakers compared the support available for soldiers suffering from ‘shell shock’ between 1914 and 1918 and those with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) today. The FiMT charity and Anglia Ruskin’s Veterans and Families Institute are engaged in research on the impact of war on veterans and their families. The intention is to develop a ‘curated research hub’ centred on the impact of war on veterans and their families.
This session will assist the Chelmsford Remembers project in showing how the First World War affected the City at the time and in addition, providing some comparison with recent wars in Iraq and Afghanistan
Malcolm Noble FRSA
If you are interested in wider research and engagement with this subject the Open University have, through Futurelearn, a new on-line course upcoming.
‘…you will study the subject of physical and mental trauma, its treatments and its representation. You will focus not only on the trauma experienced by combatants but also the effects of World War 1 on civilian populations’. Source: Open University
The work, for which a Statement of Completion will be available, provides the perfect contextual frame for the sessions created by Chelmsford Remembers.
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