Creative regeneration Jess Steele


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Presentation given by Jess Steele on 27th October 2011 at an event hosted by the Economic Development Resource Centre, University of Greenwich

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  • I specialise in rewriting presentation titles at the last minute! So this is a talk about creative, optimistic approaches to regeneration in the face of monumental challenges I’m using it to introduce a concept I’ve been mulling over for about a year… self-renovating neighbourhoods I want to look at a variety of ways of unleashing resources that are already in place, but currently locked down by inflexible systems, structural inequalities, risk aversion, dependency culture and perennial power games First – to introduce myself…
  • To introduce myself…. (establish credibility) Locality was formed on 1 st April this year from the merger of Bassac and DTA – two established national networks of community owned and led organisations We have over 650 members - settlements, development trusts, social action centres and community enterprises We support members (current and future) to promote self-reliance and social justice at local level, and by coming together to do so at national and even international level Our workstreams are: enterprise, assets, social action, and growing the movement
  • Hastings Pier (yay!) Community Organisers – programme manager Seaside Towns Economic Partnership – investment for seaside towns Meanwhile Project Community Allowance (and a few others that don’t have nice logos!)
  • My background, and half my heart, lies in Deptford & New Cross Where I was an independent community activist. Because it was a floppy disk world I haven’t got loads of logos but here’s a few pics…
  • Definitions. The first one has been adapted from Professor Peter Roberts But… it doesn’t meet my needs or fit the zeitgeist. So I prefer this version…
  • Regeneration is built on two words: NEIGHBOURHOODS COMMUNITIES We could be here all night to do justice to the debate about them. So for now I just want to recognise 4 points about them: contested power – back on the agenda after a decade of ‘powers’ anyone who tells you they know how to fix a place doesn’t deserve their fee – all interventions are unpredictable so we can only go forward with strong values - courage (the leap of faith), integrity (good faith), openness (transparency) Valuing the place collectively…
  • So, most of all what I’m interested in is UNLOCKING RESOURCES Finding the community capital Building it, helping it over the hurdles Anchoring it (creating wealth in communities and keeping it there) I’m going to try to structure the talk around these aspects but, as you would expect, I’ll spend more time on the ‘HUMAN’ than the others
  • (I’ve been working on this for over a decade.) To explain the economic and social brick walls that the welfare system throws up around communities I’m going to divert into a little mini-presentation called “How Stupid Is That?” – a quick skip through some issues about the benefits system…
  • The dynamic system New approach not more of the same Ladders and bridges to independence Tackling ‘the broken spirit’ Bending mainstream spend Valuing community activity How could we use the £92 billion better?
  • So… what else about people?! Community Organisers programme – I’m not on the stand for that one today but please look at and my blog at Business Connectors, National Citizens Service and many more – all are finding different ways to engage at scale in the things people care about – the motivation to act Peer-to-peer learning – at the core of Locality’s approach always Translaters, boundary-spanners, people who can do the facilitating, catalysing job – they come from nowhere and everywhere.
  • Locality members have a long history of asset development – some of the best stories are of places where the value is hidden – Coin Street and Westway. Asset Transfer Unit – transfer from public sector Meanwhile – the ultimate in unlocking community capital Neighbourhood Planning Bring all this together and take the next step = self-renovating neighbourhoods. I’m going to come back to this idea in a moment
  • This is a treasure chest in Warwick – the idea was that five different people held the key to each of the locks so they could only open it if they all collaborated – a great metaphor Engaged investment – focused on achieving good triple bottom line (financial, social, environmental) results, real-time risk-taking, small-scale/slow-release Venture challenges – NESTA’s Green Challenge, Neighbourhood Challenge, Big Venture Challenge C1 – based on Jim Diers in Seattle - ‘matching fund’ rather than ‘match funding’ – something important in this distinction Big Lottery – thinking about vouchers for the future, building up people-powered change services now Community shares – true buy-in SIBs – Peterborough reducing offending, difficulty with attribution, CMBs to ring-fence rewards for organised communities that generate ‘cashable savings’
  • Community enterprises are incredibly diverse in terms of business sector. Trading together – time, goods and services Supporting local trade because of the local multiplier (LM3) and the aversion to clone towns (authenticity) Mutualising everything! John Lewis to the People’s Pier Company – the idea of sharing the effort and the rewards of production, service and consumption Renewable energy – a whole new industry – the question is can we do it better, build in local rewards?
  • Based on the two great (currently unrewarded) virtues of people at grassroots – thrift (resourcefulness) and impatience
  • RESOURCEFULNESS – THE OTHER GREAT VIRTUE Start with the actual not the abstract – the genius of place, what you’ve got right now (including the layers of history close to the surface) Start with strengths and assets not needs and a deficit model Start right now with whatever you can do in the meanwhile, as well as having a view of the potential future. Building community capital focuses on ‘empowering’ individuals, groups and communities to tackle their own needs and issues; creating their own solutions, organizations or enterprises. Anchoring community capital is about creating sustainable opportunities such as training, jobs, or community spaces in social/public (or commonly owned and managed) assets or enterprises. These must be people’s organisations, not imposed from above.
  • If I have learned only one thing from the last two decades of watching regen, it would be that culture eats strategy for breakfast . And if there is one reason to be cheerful it is that old cultures of paternalist regeneration are under the fiercest attack imaginable. In that fire is a phoenix…
  • Creative regeneration Jess Steele

    1. 1. Self-Renovating Neighbourhoods Jess Steele Director of Innovation Locality
    2. 2. <ul><li>merger of bassac + the Development Trusts Association </li></ul><ul><li>nationwide network of over 650 members </li></ul><ul><li>sees every community as a place of possibility </li></ul><ul><li>promotes community enterprise, self reliance and social justice within communities. </li></ul>Locality
    3. 3. <ul><li>Our members are: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Independent </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Led by local people </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Driving social change </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Trading for community benefit </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Developing community assets and ownership </li></ul></ul>Our members
    4. 4. [My other interests]
    5. 5. [Background]
    6. 6. What is Regeneration? The retro-fitting of sustainability into neighbourhoods that have missed out on appropriate maintenance investment. The unleashing of resources to nurture transformational local change
    7. 7. Who is it for? RESIST THE YUPPIE INVASION Graffito in Deptford 1992 Dilution of statistical need, displacement of people, output measurement metrics, the rhetoric of empowerment DONE TO NOT DONE BY
    8. 8. Neighbourhoods Contested physical, social and cultural space The rehabilitation of power Unpredictable interventions Relies on courage, integrity, openness Communities Valuing the place is a glue that binds strangers.
    9. 9. Unlocking resources <ul><ul><li>Human </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Land & buildings </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Money </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Trade </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Data and digital </li></ul></ul>
    10. 10. HUMAN Community Allowance The best answer to the worst trap, bringing the bottom rung closer
    11. 11. How stupid is that… Stuck with a benefits system that is (still)…
    12. 12. A bureaucratic nightmare
    13. 13. Fundamentally outmoded
    14. 14. Still based on the Victorian Poor Law of 1834 “ the doctrine of less eligibility”
    15. 15. The poor always with us
    16. 16. A mirror to a working world that has been disappearing for decades
    17. 17. Switches not bridges
    18. 18. The safety net above the gutter £92 billion a year in benefits spending keeps people exactly where they are – poor and stuck.
    19. 19. We will never achieve neighbourhood renewal, community empowerment, or social justice unless we change our approach to work and worklessness.
    20. 20. The Community Allowance We want community groups to be able to pay local people to do work that strengthens their neighbourhood without losing their benefit status. #prosocial #bigsociety #step-up
    21. 21. The Phantom Economy just waiting to be unlocked welfare policy: harness the power of communities to create jobs and support people back to work welfare spend: investment in communities as well as individuals
    22. 22. HUMAN <ul><li>Community Organisers </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Listening </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Building trust, respect, relationships </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Peer-to-peer learning </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Facilitators, enablers, interpreters </li></ul></ul>
    23. 23. LAND & BUILDINGS <ul><ul><li>Asset development/transfer/CR2B </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Meanwhile </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Neighbourhood planning </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Self-renovating neighbourhoods </li></ul></ul>
    24. 24. MONEY <ul><ul><li>Engaged investment </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Venture challenges </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Community First – matching fund </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Big Lottery – people powered change? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Community shares – crowd-sourcing </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Social Impact Bonds (& Community Making Bonds) </li></ul></ul>
    25. 25. TRADE <ul><ul><li>Community enterprise – ‘fabulous beasts’ </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Timebanking, common bonds, local currencies, mutual marketplaces </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Keep Trade Local – LM3 and authenticity </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Mutualising everything </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Renewable energy </li></ul></ul>
    26. 26. DATA & DIGITAL Type Examples Connector apps – generic Twitter, Facebook, Linked-in, etc Connector apps – specific WIKI/DAK & Knowledge Hubs Place data Rich info cupboards in the cloud
    27. 27. Self-renovating neighbourhoods <ul><li>“ On the one hand we are called to play the Good Samaritan on life’s roadside, but that will only be an initial act. One day we must come to see that the whole Jericho Road must be transformed so that men and women will not be constantly beaten and robbed as they make their journey on life’s history.” </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Martin Luther King A Time To Break Silence (1967) </li></ul></ul><ul><li>It is collective local action that will transform the Jericho Road </li></ul><ul><li>Unleash the grassroots virtues of thrift and impatience </li></ul>
    28. 28. Unlock local resources <ul><ul><li>Actual not abstract </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Strengths not needs </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Right now as well as long term </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Identify… </li></ul><ul><li>Encourage… </li></ul><ul><li>Unleash… </li></ul><ul><li>Anchor. </li></ul>
    29. 29. Culture eats strategy… Bruce Flye
    30. 30. @LocalityJess THANK YOU!