Featured Image: The Elements Of Organic Gardening Highgrove, Clarence House Birkhall by King Charles and team
Like most modern Britons I understand the continuing influence and importance of a dynamic monarch engaged in UK neighbourhoods valuing and connecting young, middle aged and old with their organic abilities to contribute and transform the economic, social, cultural and political institutions.
Above: Denizen’s Online Neighbourhoods That Work Together Grow..we need to make the online real in life: conversation, connection, creating capacities
The idea and ideal of cultivating our little bit of the land has been at the heart of reparation, reconciliation, recuperating since the enlightenment. ‘Il faut cultiver nos Jardins’ thought Voltaire: it’s the only solution, as his young hero Candide full of hopeful philosophy is tested in a picaresque retelling of the horrors of slavery, the Lisbon earthquake, the beginning of the seven years war …when the going gets tough why not develop creativity in the garden?
Above: BBC’s horticultural presentehttps://www.telegraph.co.uk/gardening/gardening-events/black-kids-say-garden-designer-time-solve-horticultures-diversity/r Flo Headlam’s London garden
As King Charles realises, though, UK neighbourhoods need education, training, skills, jobs, self employment, micro, small and medium sized businesses run by people of all classes, ages, genders, ethnicities as well as green growing, smart, modern villages, towns, cities.
Above: Iriss dynamic charity work to reveal to people, neighbourhoods of place based work
So we need to change the controlling gig and gang labour kinds of economy that stymies motivation and productivities. As a country we need to help people move on from agency and gig economy working which puts a cap on productivity, continuity and achievement (as attractive and flexible as it can be at the beginning, brokering people is a destructive and harmful way of employing people for all concerned). Below: Technologist Adam Greenfield’s blog post about post second world war visions of self sufficiencies
Above: Heatherwick Architectural and Place Making Studio’s Vision of Nottingham’s Broad Marsh Redevelopment
In order to do this we need to look at Britain’s neighbourhoods in terms of how neighbourhoods can nurture people’s education, skills, business ideas and work opportunities. This is an organic process but quite estranged and mysterious to the mass employment system we have created.
We need to consider new ways of valuing people in the local, to reinstute the notion of a representative democracy so that the archaeology of everyone’s lives in the local matters as precious resources: we’re in a new era where we can stop exploitative, extractive supply chains and asking for direct employment, clarity and relation with each other across the lifespan as a norm.
Above: image used in an investigative story about how journalist Maeve McGlenaghan’s re-purposing of data on homeless people returns their citizenship rights to them
It’s like the return of something repressed in the version of democracy we’ve lived with in the post second world war period: these are the same things people wanted after the second world war, it’s what the people of Grenfell needed and still seek: communication, relation, people centred opportunities and services on the doorstep that gives people their citizenship, their connection, their sense of meaning and purpose that things can improve, that we can all participate in making a humane, generous, prosperous society. Below: Voting Counts Charity Why I should vote in the next election
After the second world war, just as when Tony Blair was elected in 1997, everyone, even conservatives were bowled over by the prospect of some kind of JFK version of a new social engagement to bring acknowledgement of the sacrifice and loss, peace, access to education, housing, opportunities.
In 1997 Tony Blair didn’t realise that working class people didn’t want domestic service type roles, benefits, charity, food banks, they wanted a government that would support their rights to be citizens, have education, develop skills, become employed, set up ideas, businesses, consultancies in the same way as their middle class cousins.
But the working class had lost that capacity and noone in politics had the vision to think it was necessary or could be rejuvenated, except the Green Party but noone saw that it should evolve into something more than the stately home of the post modern global supply chains managed by Eton, Oxford and Cambridge via several Bermuda triangles.
Noone either looked too closely at what was happening in the building of massive schools, of prisons, of hospital PFI schemes. Noone asked for these privatised and very expensive accidents in society and in their creation there were still no secure jobs during this period for working class people just agency jobs, exploitative landlordism supplementary benefits.
Neither Labour nor Conservatives looked at the unfinished business for working class people because by then it was all about their careers, the fact that they had a mortgage and could buy a house to let to someone in the gig economy.
Since Covid though, we’ve had a quiet revolution: people want something better, they care about their environment, their neighbours, they care about the quality of work they do and what they can earn. The Citizens Assembly research project run by UCL and Involve surveyed 6,500 people who feel disenfranchised.
They want to learn throughout their lives and contribute.
It’s time to bring democracy back inside the buildings and institutions we do business and politics in: to reference the lives, work, achievements of the UK neighbourhoods and their connections to the rest of our planet.
We’ve promoted privately owned social media and tech platforms as distributors of democracy instead of looking at what people see when they look at the Houses of Parliament, the Palace of Westminster: and ask is a stately home with oil paintings of aristocrats who ran slave empires who we really are in the 21st century?
It’s time to move on, invite everyone to the democracy party and change our world.