Featured image: 87 year old Florence and 4 year old Charlie: we need to include more people, more of the time.
Let’s rethink the local and who are customers: work, technology: high streets: supporting business and creativities….
Although we’re often preoccupied with work, training and self development, changes to the cultural environment of work, blurring of boundaries between work and play allows us to be preoccupied with a self development that is often only a competitive strategy and makes real communication about the things that really matter to us difficult.
We get used to talking about things, situations and people but not so much in actually doing things differently. We need to do more and then reflect.
Although we have instantaneous communication, it’s hardly ever used in workplaces to really improve the working conditions in manufacture, distribution and related services. People may be highly skilled outside their job vocationally or even professionally in new technologies and really want to practise and implement them but nooooo….the bulk of the jobs we do were defined by the 19th or 20th centuries.
It’s not just people in their early twenties who are frustrated: everyone of every age and background wants to see technology used in a practical yet exciting and visionary way but… there is no real community development around technology across age, gender, class and ethnic boundaries. There isn’t an inclusive community language around technology that has made it accessible. Most people assume that technology belongs to men, to big business. Yet technology needs to come to every household in a way that re imagines shopping and what a shop can be for a whole community in the 21st century.
Shops in a town centre should each be rich resources, not just of the people who have created them but they should be culturally rich and be allowed to develop that cultural richness and vibrant relationships across the community. They should be independent businesses with access to technology and learning about the history of the product, about the market, about the people and the links across the world about the product and the supply chain for all age groups in the shop.
We need to move away from letting absent landlords on the high street allow more nail bars and gambling shops and support culturally diverse businesses to move from struggling to thriving. The reason they don’t thrive is because we have neglected economic and business development in the inner city and discouraged innovation in the universities. What if the founder of Bet 365 instead of using her first class econometrics degree from Sheffield University had been encouraged by her tutors to think about her life completely independently of her family and instead of learning how to super deliver gambling online, to look and think more closely about the people who made up the city she lived in: who was sitting in her gambling shops and really, why, how markets, farmer’s markets, creative businesses, independent businesses could come together to reinvent what retailing could be, what products could be, who the customers could be. That would be a vision.
What a brain! She could have reinvented the high st and the rewards would have been far greater than simply money. There’s have been fewer homeless people, less addiction, less social isolation, more literacy and much higher aspirations.
The level of social segregation through marketing and the lack of connection between universities and social activism and urban renewal means that it appears that there are few community and cultural resources at our disposal to develop new ways of supporting and developing markets, farmer’s markets and creative businesses so that there’s a much better and socially cohesive sense of who we are.
These businesses are not simply there to add decoration for a town’s offer to inward investment of big businesses, we should help them reach their potential. We should also encourage big, independent and visionary thinking from the estate agents and banks so that in any town they could sponsor the development of these new independent growing businesses and move their premises further out into the suburbs, use online themselves and reinvent the estate agency to include a much better version of bricks and clicks. Everyone would know they were supporting the businesses and in a way the estate agency and the bank would themselves be allowed to evolve to a new level of customer service and community understanding.
We need an aesthetic approach to technology, it is clunky and ugly. The internet is (quick) but also clunky and ugly. It contains everything and nothing, it’s still beta. The culture in these businesses needs rejuvenation.
We need to skill older people, not deskill them and target them for well meaning but demeaning loss of agency. They can solve everyday problems if we let them to make the local more navigable, more beautiful.
The problem is we have top down planning in architecture and economics. We have supply chains that have adapted to a Carillion type of environment, we have building information modelling supply chains that are dangerous to everyone’s health because they’ve lost touch with the price and value of things (and reality!).
We have Facebook and Twitter, Linkedin Instagram and What’s App that cycle and circle around the same old, same old exclusionary hives that don’t really support innovation but allow people to learn and repeat one skill over and over again.
If we can change the wider culture to develop an active sense of human worth, value and economy that is accessible and dynamic and where everyone, with effort, training and support can achieve then the narrower and more transactional culture of many work places would be balanced and could change.
Having only one way of doing things in any economy will suffocate the growth and development of other things, products and people. It will also have a reaction. The result in the UK is that we are striving away, trying to break free from a passive intergenerational passing down of asset economics because people of every age and stage of life want to see something different for themselves and for everyone of every background and age.
We need new jobs, forms of training and development of individuals, existing businesses and in rethinking the relation of banks, estate agents, landlords, markets, farmer’s markets and craft businesses to be able to have a more reciprocally connective and responsible relationship, we enhance our thinking. We can start to think not only about the bonds between professional and other roles in society but we understand the whole idea of local, regional, international differently because we allow the natural connections people have to flourish.
We badly need innovations in ways of working, developing social businesses away from notions of ability, genetics and intelligence that are really about reiterating class, age and racial stereotyping and hold us all back. We need systems we can respect and trust and we need those systems to respect and trust us.