well, what a lazy blogger I turned out to be over the last couple of years. This should have been my first port of call and it turned out always to be the last. Still, rafi is now a wonderful little guy toddling around with a guitar he calls his violin, and a ruler he calls his bow, and he laughs like it's going out of fashion.
Rapid-fire update, number 1 - the ultra-local, and dancing with governmental elephants (from Whitehall to town hall).
If you want to read just one thing with a good third of the story, my neighbourhoods postmortem article was published in PPR (the journal of the Institute for Public Policy Research), and is posted elsewhere on this blog.
Young Foundation with Geoff Mulgan and co from 2004 - great place, great people. Decide to make an issue of devolution and participatory democracy. I set up Transforming Neighbourhoods programme. Miliband and Brown seem to like Geoff's double devolution concept. Paper after paper, meeting after meeting...
From SPADs to local government barons (some to their credit actually thinking seriously about power-sharing) to people down on the streets just doing it, and doing it well - from Birmingham, Bradford and Sheffield to Wiltshire and Lewisham. Starting to discover my own country properly for the first time.
Scribble chapter in "Porcupines in Winter" on "Neighbouring: from hamlets to living together" (on the history of very-local identity and power in the UK, and going beyond identity to the politics of solidaristic proximity). Quoted on Guardian frontpage. (Inaccurately.)
Thinkpiece with Alessandra for Joseph Rowntree on "Neighbouring in Contemporary Britain" (01/2006). (Attempt to further develop understanding of individualistic solidarity, amidst all those facts and figures. Some neat stuff at the end.)
Geoff & I write article on ultra-local democracy for the Guardian.
Contribute to Double Devolution.
The defining paper: "Neighbourhood democracy and local governance" (06/2006). People read and nod. Government seems to be listening. Packed hall at Number 11 - listening, arguing. Talking all over the place. A fun speech in Liverpool to the National Association of Local Councils.
(Rumblings in Whitehall?)
Final mile to the local government White Paper. Briefings. More briefings. Hmmm. Is this how it works, then? Impressed... surprised... frankly, a little worried. One of the most interesting things was what happened after the White Paper.
Let's skip the details though. Six out of ten is about right, and that's not half bad for Whitehall. Done right, “local government centred around citizens and communities” would be a great thing. Especially if someone picks up any of the ideas in “Where’s the money", my last policy paper in this series. (Michael Lyons called it “interesting and welcome” – hmmm… his heart’s in the right place and we’ll see.)
There are a bunch of other fine papers and presentations by my colleagues on the YF site. I also wrote a 50-page briefing on what English local government is doing in terms of devolving power, neighbourhood management and citizen empowerment right now, which is currently languishing in the LGA-IDEA production process - email me if you want a glimpse!