Monday, 08 April 2013

Compost: free to a good home

Last weekend in the cold I visited a local market.  The lady running one of the stalls had been standing in the cold for hours.  Despite this she gave us a warm smile and shared her vision: A community owned car that could be used in a pay-as-you-go way. A car that will bring people together.

The weekend before I posted on Twitter: “Compost: free to a good home”. I hoped that somewould would make good use of it.  Who knows maybe it’ll lead to a new friendship.

Friday, 05 April 2013

What happens when you look up?

I like looking down.  I like iPhones and laptops, Kindles and newspapers, typing texts, writing emails, downloading and uploading. But how often do we forget to look up and outward?

Working at The Challenge Network, I am constantly surprised how easy it can be to be a connector in any community when you start taking part, when you ask people questions and when you are willing to talk.

Answer 1: Yes, it’s like investing in infrastructure.

If there’s one thing everyone agrees we should spend more on it’s infrastructure. Bridges, roads, and trainlines make it quicker to meet people we do business with. So we need them even more when the economy is struggling.

Wednesday, 03 April 2013

Is the web really connecting us?

Who is ‘your community’? The people you live near? The people you pray with? The people with the same colour skin as you? Or something else entirely?

Over Easter I visited old friends. Like me, they are from Ireland but don’t feel part of the Expat Irish community, they live in Hackney but never talk to their neighbours and none of us have seen the inside of a place of worship since our Confirmation.

Thursday, 28 March 2013

Two Doors Too Far?

Recently, we had some friends over for dinner.  We chatted about our work, our children, our gadgets! Then the conversation slowly turned to our  neighbours.

Our friends mentioned that they had lived in their house for 5 years, and didn’t know their neighbours’ names on either side. They had shared the polite ‘nod’ when eyes met outside, but had never actually spoken.

The UK always been a diverse country. A mix of ages, professions, incomes and interests. We are now also an ethnically diverse country – by 2030, a third of people will be non-white.

That doesn’t mean that we need to be a divided country. It does need  we neet to work to bring people together.

Tuesday, 26 March 2013

The Good Tax?

No taxes are fun to pay. But a recent conversation made me think that stamp duty – the tax you pay when you buy a new home – might be a good thing.

I was speaking to one of our partners in North London – a local charity which provides great places for children to play. We sat in the recently reopened community centre at the heart of a council estate and talked.

A recent study has revealed that Britain is divided at a local level, with social divides being most common within communities. The study found that despite living on neighbouring streets, residents live separate lives due to the income gap between them.

Today, think tank IPPR released a new report on integration entitled ‘Back to Basics’.* The report highlights the confusion that exists over the definition of integration. It also argues that policy makers often confuse integration and social cohesion; the former being concerned with the relation between migrant and ethnic minority groups and wider society, and the latter with relations between all groups of people.

Today, Justin Welby will be formally enthroned as the 105th archbishop of Canterbury. The event will include longstanding traditions, such as knocking on the west door of the cathedral three times at the start of the ceremony, and other elements which wouldn’t have been incorporated hundreds of years ago, such as African dancers, Punjabi music and the archbishop being enthroned by a female cleric.

The archbishop’s enthronement ceremony teaches 3 lessons about integration:

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