Will Community Engagement Be the Greatest Positive To Come Out of This Pandemic?
Nick Beddow, a member of our Deeper Democracy Group, talks to Chris Williamson on Resistance TV about the role of neighbourhoods and communities in tackling social problems and building a new civic society. He gives examples of communities’ ability to self-organise, and the importance of practical support from community development workers and community organisers to ensure community is inclusive and democratic. In this interview, Nick talks about the many of the issues we explore in our recent pamphlet, ‘Participation at 45° techniques for citizen led change’ (add link).Nick emphasises five key ways in which community workers can support good practice in community groups, based on the principles of Achieving Better Community Development:
- Provide support for every individual to develop skills and knowledge, and be recognised by the rest of the group for the qualities they bring (‘Liberating Leadership’ concepts)
- Help the group position itself as an active, democratic and equal organisation working towards a shared goal; opening itself to every part of the community and learning from each other’s situations and challenges (particularly addressing inequalities of opportunity)
- Encourage self-organisation and challenge the domination of the group by any powerful individuals or factions
- Encourage networking and the ability of the group to be influential:
- Vertically (networking with other groups and communities)
- Horizontally (engaging assertively and effectively with state/government structures and decision making processes)
- Develop an understanding of the ‘political game’, seeing how their lives are impacted on by different parts of the power structures, so that communities can develop links with potential allies in the relevant part of the power systems. That is the 45° approach: the place where civil society and political institutions contend or co-operate.