One step forward, two back, three forward….. I’m gradually bringing together the pieces of Flatpack Two, which will aim to set out what can be done with (local council) power once it’s been grasped from the hands of those who chose either not to use it well, or not to use it much at all. Or at least, I’m trying to work out in what order the pieces should go ….when actually I need to stop messing about and just write them and sort that later.
I’ve had plenty of practice putting thoughts together recently with a little rush of ‘political tourism’ to Frome – Danish TV, Belgian authors, visitors from other councils and a clutch of academics. They come – I believe – for two main reasons.
Firstly, the old story of our moving on from Party Politics at this level of local government by winning all 17 seats in 2015. I’ve slowly realised that while this was an important statement of independence, it’s what happens next that is really more interesting and has more potentially long lasting impact – which is the second story people want to hear:
A Guardian article on Frome a few weeks focuses firmly on the community there is in Frome – and as a town council we have concentrated on building the links, reducing the barriers and enabling the community to take on austerity imposed from above. Frome has real examples of the ideas George Monbiot and Shaun Chamberlin present in their new books – ‘Out of the Wreckage’ and ‘Surviving the Future’ (both of whom talk about these at the Gaia Foundations Winter Talks in the next few weeks).
What their books and talks tells me is that this is A MOMENT. There is widespread recognition that democracy and our current political systems are terminally failing us at both local and planetary levels. George’s subtitle is ‘A New Politics for an Age of Crisis’ – I see it as an old politics needing to be reclaimed.
The task of Flatpack 2 is to provide inspiration and instruction on moving from ideas to actions which can make a real difference quickly. It might also look at how those local ideas scale up to impact on a much larger scale, or it might not!