Featured image and above: What Makes A Good Work City and the beautiful cover of the NTU Civic Exchange provocation: Laying The Foundations of A Good Work City
We’re all living inside social networks, whether they’re on or offline: we’re also seeing the result of networks in great contrasts in Nottingham: a big gap between owners of businesses that are successful, professional people (in what is erroneously reported as our social core), while workers serving that core in the gig and gang labour economies find the demand for their time and services inside friendly and informal relationships that don’t protect their safety at work
The problem of changing the culture to allow people at every stage of life feel that they can use the local environment and resources to develop physical, mental and cultural skills and resources means that we need to increase and share knowledge and protection while reducing bureaucracy: revisit what we mean by compliance, protection and rights.
Paula Black and her team, Richard Pickford, with input from work scholars like Chris Lawton, Maria Karanika Murray (and many, many others!) are working on making Nottingham a Good Work City and they want input from people in Nottingham to create new ways of working, living and producing things between the professional and the gig and gang labour economies.
It’s really a problem of accessing the knowledge, culture, histories of people, places and products in Nottingham and letting their rich tributaries reconnect with the mainstreams: allowing everyone to look into their own understanding of work, aspiration and culture and have a conversation, keep talking.
To create rich, deep and reciprocal learning relationships without end.
We need to go into and beyond notions of what work, life, making and creativities are. It’s no good producing research that doesn’t take us beyond the familiar of our own view of Nottingham, our autobiography.
We need a new mosaic of lives, people, stories that doesn’t result in labelling, doesn’t structure confusion and social segmentation. The way we use data in commissioning services is from a bureaucratic, compliance perspective and it can’t learn. It has no capacity and so it will decapacitate and deskill rather than share skills across class, race, gender and age. We need tools, not weapons. But first we need to understand how we can find quality data,
This isn’t a rich enough way of understanding why we’re here. Time is always, always being constructed and in the stories people tell of ‘when there were jobs for life’ doesn’t tell you a whit about the people who dreamed of making new things, new products, who wanted to innovate on their council estates and feel that ‘the job for life’ might just be the stepping stone they needed. It doesn’t tell you, for example how the Saturday Night Sunday Morning view of Nottingham in the post war era is only one view of many that we need to hear so we can re-present the past and our futures.
There are many, many routes, streams, lives intertwining when we get on the tram, the 41 or 42 bus, the hybrid or diesel vehicle the cycle, the skateboard or on foot and they all have equal worth. If we are to change anything we need to understand how and why the boundaries between legal and illegal have blurred and also we need to see what might be good that we’re misrepresenting, that we’re consistently missing.
We all know that we should expect charities to have the aim of making themselves redundant. Creating charities and donations to food banks isn’t changing anything, charities, like bureaucracies need to work to be less needed, more innovative, more creative.
How to grow the local, the people, communities, how to make a real difference connecting how to play, photograph, exhibit and earn a living, how to feel anything is possible, in Nottingham, now…is the role of the university.