No-one in this milieu is likely to object to giving communities more power. But will the B S be structured so as to do that or rather end up with communities having some local decsion-making power but lacking the economic power to withstand pressure from larger commercial organisations when it comes to critical issues such as servcie delivery or planning. (and then there's all the global / local issues)

At the core of this appears to be the idea of groups operating in a framework called 'Your Square Mile'. How these groups would actually control local issues is not clear but the planning bill (for England???) is, according to one policy advisor) set to abolish most planning legislation to put decsion-making at a level below local councils.

I have a number of unanswered questions and would love to hear from anyine with answers! I have put a paper 'Big Society - some questions' on my LinkedIn page but cannot see how to upload a document here exept via mailking it to Nick, which I will do...

The Big Society ideas (communities running the local pub, looking after the elderly etc.) may sound great in a small town or village. But in a dense, high poverty, mulitcultural inner city I have some real doubts as well as questions....

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Comment by Crispin Moor on October 18, 2010 at 19:08
An update on some of the work the CRC is up to on the Big Society (before we go…).

Last Friday we published the results of our analysis of over 70 submissions of evidence from civil society organisations and others on the economic aspects of the government’s Big Society agenda, in our report ‘Economic conditions for organisations contributing to the Big Society in rural England‘. See

Our analysis shows that the principles of the Big Society approach are already well embedded and supported in much of rural England. But many civil society organisations have real fears that the current funding climate will significantly damage further progress in delivering Big Society objectives. Moreover demand for many of their services is growing at a time when resources are reducing.

We also reveal a fear that rural communities may be disproportionately affected by the forthcoming spending cuts. And there are concerns that local authorities and others may set up new delivery organisations that start competing with existing voluntary organisations of various types also come through.

There is a view that in future local rural communities may have to depend more on actions from their local parish and town councils.

Our respondents call for more clarity from central and local government and others on what the practical impacts and consequences of the Big Society approach will be, with a feeling that there is little hard information available about the Big Society agenda.

The civil society organisations who gave us evidence were clear that with the right support and encouragement there is much more that they could do to help rural communities and particularly vulnerable people within our rural communities.

We shall be publishing our own views and advice to Government on delivering the Big Society approach in rural England later in the year.
Comment by James Derounian on October 14, 2010 at 16:04
What is the difference between the BigSoc & what already happens? For example

How will 5,000 'community organizers' differ from tried and tested community development workers?

What will happen to the wealth of info, insight and materials when CRC shuts down (will anyone find this stuff on the defra site?)

And here's a quote.....guess the year (don't peek, it's down at the bottom of this message): According to the Prime Minister community development is "an active, planned and organized effort to place responsibilityfor decision-making in local affairs on the freely chosen representatives of responsible people at the community and local government levels, and to assist people to acquire the attitudes, knowledge, skills and resources required to solve, through communal self-help and organization, as wide a range of localproblems as possible in their own order of priority."

see below for date

Comment by Nick Wilding on October 6, 2010 at 10:01
Follow from Peter's comment on the slides, Rob Hopkins has written up some thoughts here following a day I attended:
Comment by Peter Lipman on October 1, 2010 at 14:35
Comment by Nick Wilding on October 1, 2010 at 12:50
Thanks Chris for provoking this discussion at fieryspirits... On Wednesday this week I attended an event hosted by Peter Lipman of Transition Network in Bristol. There was some good insight, mostly along the lines of Ian's comments, from folk who have been quite close in - David Wilcox is working on something called 'social apps' and thought that the square mile project is at present stalled due to lack of funds (!); Sarah McAdam of CRC gave a good analysis of some of the tensions in the Big Society Project; and Peter Lipman himself offered a stimulating perspective from his experiences recently in the department of transport (Peter - any chance of sharing those slides here?).

I came away convinced that we all need to be having this conversation, and quickly, in a way that helps as many people understand the scale and most importantly pace of change we are about to experience. During the day I started talking about 'change literacy' as perhaps the most vital skill/competence that activists or professionals alike may be needing in order to navigate the next few years with any coherence.

It could be quite simple to do this - an intro with stimulating material (if only some commentators' 'takes' as listed below) - followed by world cafe conversations or similar.

There is no doubt that we are entering an 'experiment' where few have any clue what will emerge the other side. Preparedness, ability to cope with abrupt change, and ability to share information rapidly will be crucial.

Here are the links that the transition folk shared in preparation for the workshop:

I'm sure there are many more - perhaps folk might like to suggest some in response to this blog?
Comment by Ian Jones on September 29, 2010 at 8:56
I understand your frustration, at the moment Big Society (BS) is like a mirage, the closer you get to trying to discover if it is real the more you realise it is just not there. It appears to me that Big Society is at the moment more of the other type of BS, the waste product that is released from male cattle! Most of the community organisations we are working with feel very threatened not liberated. We will see what the Comprehensive Spending Review says on the subject.
Even in small towns and villages there has to be investment in building the social and economic networks that are vital for our future. Our current system and culture has spent the past thirty years trying to purposefully destroy social capital to make us into individual consumers. The shift to a more sustainable and inclusive way of living will not happen without catalysts, support structures and considerable behaviour change. I do believe that empathy and support of others is innante within us but we need to counter the still puerile views of a minority that would like to keep things just as they are. I am getting exceedingly frustrated by those who are trying to keep our system in the current 'basin of attraction' which will exasperate and increase the challenges we face.
Keep up the good work
Comment by James Derounian on September 28, 2010 at 9:03
Chris - do look at my post on BigSoc also on this www......can you send me your paper too thanks
Comment by Nick Wilding on September 27, 2010 at 21:47
hi chris

thanks for your post - hoping all is well with you. to post a document direct to a blog post, click 'more options' ... it will let you attach a document, photos etc..


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