Community Is A Garden: The Right to Root
When we think of community as a garden we need to go beyond the plot to understand that to grow a community, in each of our neighbourhoods throughout the UK, we need a diverse and responsive local economy where, through great homes, education, skills development throughout the lifespan all people become citizens earning a good living and reaching their capacities to innovate and grow.
It’s not just the wrongs of lack of accountability in the parliamentary system, we have to face the depersonalising economy in our local neighbourhoods and repurpose it so that everyone has the right to root. We need to build on the amazing experience, talent and aspirations of people in our neighbourhoods and create new jobs, new businesses, new services.
We have to look with a clear eye at the things we choose to ignore.
For example, in our garden community, our shared economies, it’s no good normalising uprooting people who’ve lived in rented accommodation with a plan to target debt ridden students and professional people with premium solo accommodation. It doesn’t solve the wider personal and social issues this economic model causes.
A couple who’d grown their garden over a few years: apple tree, pear tree, flowers, for example,
Above: view of a garden, part of a rental relationship over a number of years.
Below the view in the rented environment is as subject to shock and awe as any other contested land in wars throughout the world. When the tenants looked out of their window one morning they saw this:
Above: View from a rented window where in the local the same tactics seen in war, shock and awe, are much more subtly normalised and played out in the everyday, normalised local economy where instead of giving a hand up to people who need secure employment, who need stable homes, they become prey.
The woman, always looking for the positive of any situation, was amazed that six men without safety equipment could destroy something that was so longstanding and safe and settled so quickly, effectively without injuring themselves. The woman (in the flat she’d be evicted from) looked after the men with food and drinks and chocolate: they became oppressed friends: friends through shared oppression.
The men were aspirational, hardworking young people in their mid twenties who’d been groomed to act, to save, to buy to look after their families: they had been primed by the wider cultural version of the local we ignore, like heat seeking missiles. Their energies were extraordinary because they’d been primed only to achieve a goal.
When we realise that owning and letting homes became simple and normalised as a resistance to the impact of globalisation and the lack of work to reconstruct local, regional, national and international supply chains in the 1990’s you can’t just blame the landlords. We needed a dynamic, local economy as much then as we need it now, in 2023.
We can learn, whether we’re landlords, tenants, owner occupiers that the techniques of harm and war, shock and awe are a hangover from organisational, institutional, social hierarchies, age, class, gender, ethnicities, disabilities of the militaristic way things were done in the period after the second world war.
There’s no excuse now. We all know that we live in a country, not a club, nor a company: we want a modern connective, representative parliament in 2023 that hears us and helps us to live better together.
A place that inspires landlords, tenants, owner occupiers, students, business people, sportspeople, cultural makers, scientists, doctors, nurses and all the health professions, people in prison, people who work in prison, teachers, university lecturers, farmers, growers, manufacturers, catering, restaurants, people working in all forms of transport from all generations, ethnicities, backgrounds, lords, ladies, aristocrats, as well as local, regional, national would be barons of whichever barony you are subscribed to. We all need modernity a parliament; that reflects the dynamism of the human being the great things we’ve achieved, the jobs we do, the creativities we have, the building we’ve done: all the people, all the years, over many, many years. We don’t need to turn on parliament TV and see what looks like a stately home: please let’s have something called a parliament that reflects a shared vision of modernity that is modern because something has dawned: it’s all about people.
We need a parliament that can turn the aggressive tools of command and control into the ploughshares of a productive and prosperous modern way of life for everyone.
The men who cut the garden down, the men who refurbished the rented Edwardian houses and turned them into premium solo rented apartments for endebted students and professionals came from Romania as gang labour employees already knowledgeable about the hierarchies in slavery, already well aware of how many of their brothers and sisters had fared: had old heads on young shoulders. I promised the woman that I’d thank her and write about them. We can do something to reduce or end student and professional debt, we can create the kind of economy where people can move on from debt, can contribute at every stage of life: we can create new ways of feeling, thinking and living.