Count me in: limiting social exclusion through regulation?
In his last blog Jonathan concludes that one of the ingredients of Barack Obama’s success as a community organiser was his “deep appreciation for people and communities.” Obama not only sought to understand ‘communities,’ but importantly recognised their diverse constitution and that reaching out to people and individuals was essential groundwork. He had what is sometimes coined the ‘human touch.’
The need for such a capacity to include is at the heart of the Connected Communities programme as we seek not only to reinforce existing community networks, but also to build these networks out in ways that oblige them to include those people at the margins with depleted stocks of social capital. We must try, that is, to overcome a recurrent pattern in community regeneration whereby projects come to work alongside the usual suspects (be they individuals or local CVS organisations) and concurrently fail to reach the most excluded (potential) community members.
How we manage this is going to be tricky, but I’m hopeful that the ‘Regulation for Regeneration’ summit being held in conjunction with the Local Better Regulation Office (LBRO) at the RSA next week may help us to develop some ideas. Specifically, this event is going to bring together local authorities and businesses to discuss the challenges that they face in the current economic recession. In particular, through a series of sessions led by expert speakers, delegates will be asked to consider what the priorities for action should be and in what ways regulation can make a contribution to meeting these priorities.
The last of the sessions will bring the summit together by enquiring into what a new model for regeneration might look like. One of the key themes of enquiry for this session concerns how regulation can help us to nurture the types of communities and local economies that we’d like to participate in. Specifically, it is posited that in this new model of regeneration we might look to draw upon regulation as a means to help us build constructive social and economic norms through which communities can ‘regulate’ themselves.
Hopefully this in-depth conversation about the relationship between regeneration and regulation will garner practical ways of harnessing the principles of regulation as a means to facilitate more equitable community regeneration on the ground. Could, for example, a framework for regulating the involvement of community members in projects be developed so as to ensure inclusivity? Or, in a related way, might the social capital strategy we create out of our work in Knowle West and New Cross Gate comment on how the reach and accessibility of interventions looking to build social networks is regulated? Out of this, the hope would be that we start to see the development of more deeply resilient and empowered communities in which engagement (and so responsibility) is more open and shared.