Owning the future?

Creating & Sustaining Thriving Communities

When the Covid door closes, when lockdown is unlocked, when partying has passed, what then? There will be no ‘ getting back to normal’ , not least because what was once familiar is already history, daring never to be repeated.

Many are determined that life during lockdown should be a learning experience. The disruption, the unexpected time gained by enforced closedowns, should not be wasted. Books and baking, gardening and grieving, DIY and doing something else for others: with unwelcome, unexpected, events, have we ever been busier? But these times of daily doom-scrolling will surely pass. The future ‘whatever’ will become a new normal.

It is not wishful thinking or idle curiosity to spend time thinking ahead. Much of our present predicament reflects a lack of reasoned foresight and preparedness – but ‘learning the lessons’ need not mean indulging in bitter rounds of blame and shame. We must, surely, ‘ rise to play a greater part’ – not least because we have a choice, even if local democracy is, apparently, temporarily suspended.

Thinking through choices for our future is a real test of awareness. Priorities and perspectives may range from ‘saving the planet’ to ‘saving my job’, from ‘working together’ to ‘falling apart’. We could passively accept greater central command or strive to choose priorities uniquely suited to our local community needs.

In one of the most exhaustive studies currently calling for attention (and, for sure, umpteen others are in the pipeline) the future options are categorized as ‘Good, Bad, or Ugly’. The work Owning The Future? by The Democracy Collaborative and the Centre for Local Economic Strategies (CLES) is not for the faint-hearted – 20 full pages of text – but should be required reading for anyone who leans towards leading.

The least attractive scenario (‘Ugly’) – extreme nationalism – is already discredited by UK- wide polling that rejects the busted Brexit bravado. The scenario categorised as ‘Bad’ assumes a continuing determination to abdicate leadership to market forces with minimal regulatory ‘interference’ to maximise private gain. Finally, a ‘Good’ outcome would bid farewell to exceptional aspirations of national supremacy and see a rebalancing of central & local governance to enable more resilient, sustainable and thriving, local communities.

Even before we are ‘unlocked’, a great many minds are open to considering the lessons learned. ‘Owning The Future’ is just one of many attempts to analyse our future options. Download the full report and add your comments below this article. For too long now, prevailing political forces have outsourced leadership to markets driven entirely by private gain – but, with a new post-Covid appreciation of social values, there is huge scope for municipal enterprise, particularly if social ventures chime with the planetary climate challenge – a destination even more predictable than the current pandemic.

2 thoughts on “Owning the future?

  1. Scope for Municipal enterprise: For decades a prominent landmark in Glasgow was the cooling tower of Pinkston power station – built and funded by the City Corporation to provide electricity for its trams. If people really want to “take back control”, then demand that more power is transferred back to local councils, to those who know best what is needed, town by town and region by region.

  2. A very interesting and thought provoking article. Right now with this government, I can’t see what is going to stop the ‘money men” tightening their control after covid19. The signs are already there with the planned attacks on democracy such as limiting the power of the courts to hold the government to account. It looks like the “ugly” option is where we are headed.

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