Seeing a university student at risk of exploitation brought me up close to a personal awareness of the way the local economy in many ways mimics/mirrors/connects with larger exploitative supply chains across the world.
Connecting and sharing local research with an understanding of regional, national, international stories should be delivered to everyone in society: stories about the whole world, new products, economies, culture, shared, valued here that will encourage collaboration to create new products, new jobs: new opportunities away from the old exploitational histories.
When we realise how, for example, worldwide student accommodation planning as a driver for construction and a leisure related economy in major cities, the over-emphasis on night life at the expense of other ways of defining a city all skew notions of autonomy, citizenship and an evolving economic architecture that the young can participate in. If the young are first and foremost consumers they can also be devalued by the hotel culture and environmental processes around them, they can, like the student I met, become prey. Amazing satellite and technological investigations by Forensic Architecture make me consider how the lack of economic diversity in the local is a direct result of public lack of awareness, knowledge and understanding.
Local economic accountability, services and demographics that are balanced should be our political goal. Parliament needs to acknowledge the importance of creating a rich local ground for new products, processes, training, education and skills and re-building democratic participation.
We need ways to connect the past, present with a better future, a sense that the vision of a city should in all aspects meet the aspirations of children, young people, young adults, middle aged people and seniors, people with disabilities with a local culture encouraging and nurturing, questioning, thinking, reflecting: making the new: helping people understand their value and potential.
Investing the local with possibility also connects to the international: to new ways of mapping and understanding the world and returning to transform the economic ground on our doorsteps, connecting them with new ways of seeing, working, thinking and acting. Beautiful streets, pavements, shop signs…
We are all shocked, exhausted because of the scale of the way the covid supply chain has been implemented: we’ve tried to apply our culture, understanding to these new big spaces but whether we’ve been paid to work in them or we’ve done it as volunteers, we’re now weary. A dinosaur of a process in a world desperate for new solutions…
We love the community, collaboration and partnership that’s been evident everywhere but everyone inside those collaborations, partnerships and communities is also very aware of the waste, overspending, duplic and triplication that crept up on sites, contexts, environments we’ve experienced and witnessed. Waste, junk, no recycling in a world where we’re also talking about the conference of the parties….how can we connect people, technologies, skills, talent locally, long term across the lifespan?
We all know that in many places people volunteered and that their rural community was often a place where there were many hidden inequalities that volunteers identified but didn’t have the authority or resources to change.
People in cities weren’t requested or expected to volunteer in the same way.
Why was that? Were cities seen as places to control while rural areas were seen as natural partners with social capacity? Natural partners with natural commissioners of those supply chain resources and decisions? Was this a way of dismissing the potential whole urban populations, responsibility to everyone, thinking about everyone? It’s alright if you live inside a privileged bubble but even those inside the privileged bubble experienced the precarity of accepting old mechanisms to drive new technologies. This model took money from so many other areas and so many other areas broke because of it.
Why is that? Is that to do with assumptions inside the big Deloitte consultancy, army, agency roll out of the covid testing that reflects a (really quite feudal) way things are really being run in Britain now? Did anyone think that having a locally relevant process which could connect with, join up and build on new things that local people could offer could have built long term capacities. The authoritarian way that the technology platforms muscled in on the clinical expertise and professions in the name of ‘rolling out digitisation’ during the pandemic was transparently about taking power and making profit. Doctors, clinicians, pharmacists with expertise stood to attention for compliance processes in the same way as the agency temps on £9 or £10 an hour. We’ve been deskilled and made unwell. In Nottingham there are 43,000 people with some form of diabetes, the diabetic retinopathy screening team is regularly sent boxes of chocolates and sweets at holiday times and the blood donor service provides crisps and chocolates as treats for donors after they’ve donated. Why aren’t these services connected to growing things, good foods? Why is there no time, inclination built in for this?
It is not the way our services and consultants, companies and local people should or need to be used. We need to reconstruct how people, neighbourhoods, environmental, health and social services can nurture learning, skills, abilities and blend them into the the kinds of professions, technicians, support staff and job roles we need.
What is the town country divide in the 21st century? Industrial country house estates, Big (industrialised) farma(!?), with a hot line to government in a way that’s disappearing for individuals in the towns, countries, cities.
What lobbies don’t understand is that whether they realise it or not, they’re inextricably linked with ‘the other’ that they’re like to think they’re so far from: big farms don’t have the interests of smaller farmers in their hearts and small farms don’t see how they can create new relationships with individuals in towns, neighbourhoods, cities.
It’s all because of the shadow of the big supply chains falling on everything we might consider, plan, aspire to dream of.
What would happen if, wherever we are in the country, we could embed a sense that we want to grow, encourage, growth, the right to grow with the right to a home, the right to a job, the right to training, education, skills, community, culture and to re-present the potential of humanity and the drive for a peaceful, prosperous inclusive way of life from birth through a long, active and purposeful life.
Sharing this though, across a sense of how in regenerating our own sense of how the economy, how politics might work to reconnect the missing piece of the supply chain, we see the connections between lobbies from the heart of what is really a very old feudal system who have diversified into exploitative supply chains and platforms still think they should lead the ideological battle.
Perhaps in understanding how local manufacture and production, local retailing with online, environmental ways of transforming local lives, inequalities, it becomes clear that any lobby group is only a lobby group but at the moment this lobbying stands in for a deeper, richer notion of developing wellness and representation.
We need politicians at every level to see further than their own professional training, family background and the pressure of those lobbies so in every interaction they can conjure up a wider sense of vocation and public responsibility that inspires reciprocity, trust and reinvigorates everyone and everything.
Making the old relevant, creating an environment beyond this feudal structure is needed, desired by the privileged as much as the underprivileged: a developing democracy where there should be evidence of a natural to and fro between village, town, country and city, where developing infrastructure and concomitant social and cultural mobilities are seen as a great place in the world where we live and where history is as alive as the present and the future.
We need to live in a way where we demonstrate that the socially and financially privileged are not here simply to exploit others, that human potential like the mystery of how and why we are here belongs to every life on this planet. This way of thinking, feeling, acting and believing creates the synergy that we can then translate into the missing local piece of the supply chain.
It would have a massive effect on everyone for the better.
The force that we should be looking for in the local that drives the green fuse isn’t tax havens, it’s not hating people, it isn’t pornography, isn’t prostitution, isn’t harm against children, isn’t casinos, it’s not drug dealing, it’s not gambling platfora, neither is it employment agency and zero hours platforms.
It isn’t seeing property as the economy. It’s recognising that we have a responsibility to make the economy ever more nourishing and diverse in the local and in our conversations.
It’s not accepting a view of a greedy inequitable status quo as the place ‘where our pensions are stashed so we mustn’t tamper with the cash machine system of delivering utilities’.
It’s not the (again, feudal) yearly landlord/advice agency/court/bailiff eviction cycle (another feudal mechanism) where individuals are routinely discredited and abused by a system that provides evidence and sustenance for a further exclusionary system of credit that supports and administers further social and economic exclusion and violence against the dispossessed rather than creating real opportunities for independence.
It’s not all the industries and charities around homelessness, mental health, harm and abuse that model their interactions with clients on a grace and favour hierarchy of high salaries and the possibility of honours, not social change, not working towards their own redundancy. We need to unpack the 15 billion value of the charity industry and understand to whom it’s going and where it’s coming from.
It’s not (Dame) Cressida Dick getting (Baroness) Louise Casey to have an ‘access all areas passport’ to seek out systemic harms in the Met Police because Kings and Queens and Dames and Barons are from a past era of locking up and locking down people: yes often they’re symbolic titles with continuing social status but they’re not solving the problems that regenerating parliament, representation and the massive structural inequalities across Britain and the world would really generate.
Slowly, slowly, slowly the emerging desire to move on from the modern feudal type exploitation in jobs that is supporting the justification of violence, cruelties and technological, drug and pharma harms delivered through so-called modern/cutting edge technologies. We know really that these technologies are delivering the old forms of racial, sexual, social and economic exploitation in a new kind of dementia capitalism.
People’s struggle for representation during covid was muffled and seen in terms of anti vaccination and the others when in fact it was about social inequality and the way the most disempowered would become demented through lack of social connection and physically sick through remote medicalisation and often over medication. The failure of politicians and political parties to envision a political democracy is instructive: politicians are as unwell as the rest of the population, their sense of being overwhelmed with obedience to the whip rather than to their constituency and moral conscience is a great moment to say:
Parliament is a place where, every year we need more diversity of people so we need children from every background to be able to understand the value of citizenship, that the history of representation is a history of contested struggle for freedoms from all parts of the world, represented in all corners of Britain and parliament is the place where, the point where, economic, social, cultural problems, issues are addressed and legislated.
It’s a place that needs to find time for thought, issues and developing accountability to the well-being and prosperity of the whole of its population through the experience, expertise and vocation of the people elected to represent them. Now, in the 21st century, parliament needs to express the shared mindset of the local, of aspirations for health, learning and longevity for MPs as well as their constituents. All holding on to the old supply chain lobbies of the colonial and post colonial ways of relating to the people and resources of the world only result in a form of dementia capitalism and gang labour where it’s difficult to distinguish between legal and illegal activity (the only distinction might be branding, itself, like ‘the whip’ a term that comes from slavery times). This can be overcome in the way we grow people, conversations and opportunities to build new economies in the local, the regional, the national and the international in the villages, towns, cities, neighbourhoods, constituencies, regions.
We need everyone in the country to have new conversations that reinvigorate who we are, where we’ve been, what we can do in the future. We need parliament itself to be the conversation party of our country and many others, where new people, from ever new walks of life join that conversation to help reduce bureaucracy, gate-keeping and the military culture of privileged access to what are perceived as the institutions of political influence such as the media, universities, communications, utilities as well as similar access gatekeeping in political parties, between people that create a unique, valuable and energetic quality of life.
Government needs to build capacity, humane capacity, constituency capacity, it needs people from the constituencies to understand it, to bring MPs, to bring security oversight itself to account. Government is too lonely and really needs many, many new friends. We need more in our political parties, our MPs,in parliament, select committees, expertise than the overburdening of our political system as if it’s nothing more than a place where lawyers take advice. There needs to be a pastoral timetable every month for parliament where questions about the health and wellbeing of the people, the towns, the updates, the over views of what’s happening good and bad are discussed and debated. Journalists come from one class and they work in tiny circumscribed spheres of action. What we need now is a way of democratising conversation, discussion, debate so that everyone in the country can be energised by participating, listening, contributing.
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