The Unworthy Tree – a true story
September 3, 2008
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Conversations about social futures

We all live somewhere, in some place, whether for longer or shorter periods of time. We also all share a global commons. We all have needs and aspirations and wish to see possibilities for fulfilling these aspirations for all people; or if not for all, then at least for ourselves and our families and friends.

The questions to be addressed in order to realize such possibilities are: what would such a place look like? What would enable us to recognize such a place? And if we could do this, how could we then, in practice, develop this place around such recognition?

This question of shared and personal development in locality is important for even the globally well-connected have to live somewhere and have needs that can at times be met more effectively and efficiently – socially, ecologically, economically – by local networks and organizations with local knowledge. These needs range from security and care to dealing with large scale problems which permeate national boundaries, such as the impact of resource depletion, pandemics, economic turbulence, tensions and conflicts.

There is now much more focus on the many problems we face, and there are more calls for people in local community to be able to help address these. However, there is little serious attention given to the “how” question. For instance, how it can be possible for people in localities to come together and interact so that they can build connections with one-another and go on to define and develop projects for the quality self-chosen futures they wish for.

We need such conversations. However, many find it difficult just to make time and space for ordinary conversation with our friends and families, let alone participate in wider, local conversations about developing a shared vision of local place and, most importantly, practical steps to getting there. Even more daunting is the needed wider ranging conversations about developing such local vision in the context of wider national and global levels.

These are the issues. Do you agree? Any thoughts, comments, contestations most welcome

1 Comment

  1. Jane says:

    I think the idea of developing a shared vision for our localities through ‘virtual’ conversations is great. I grew up in a village in Somerset, England, where people were friendly but tended to keep to themselves. Something changed in the year of the Queen’s Silver Jubilee (1977), when my mother got together with a group of others and began to plan for some village celebrations, including a joint message of support for the Queen, signed by all 172 inhabitants of the village. The idea snowballed and people discovered how much they enjoyed doing things together – garden parties, concerts, craft shows, sports days – and carried on long after that year.

    Today’s reality is rather different for many of us, especially if we live in suburbs and spend a large part of the week at work. We might know a few of our nearest neighbours, and yet hardly see them from one month to the next. But perhaps this will change in a world that can no longer sustain the consumer lifestyle of the well-off nations. Perhaps we will come to see the value (both economic and social) of looking out for each other, pooling our resources, making our own entertainment, etc. Online discussions can be a way of sparking ideas without a great outlay of time, initially at least – putting them into practice will of course take longer!

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