Shining a light on community in New Zealand post-COVID – the role of the public sector?

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Village In The City was formed as a post-COVID response, to help and encourage micro-local community and connection which had started to appear during the lockdown periods. Others have also seen the potential for this kind of community impact.  This excellent essay about how the pandemic has revealed the power of collective action in New Zealand is written from this perspective – it’s well worth a read.

The authors identify one possible issue as the role of public authorities, local councils etc in micro-local action.  They write:

“The public sector could change its view of itself and operate as the “backbone” to support community organisation – a steward and facilitator, rather than a decider and enforcer.” 

I think this is a key issue in how we can encourage things to grow.  Village In The City is about helping bottom-up community builders start to take action to improve their communities and enhance their own lives as well. Nobody needs permission to do that.  But as things develop, getting a supportive relationship with local government can help (or indeed hinder, if the council places its own ideas above those of the actual community).  My tip for village-builders right now is to get on with doing what you can; the council are more likely to listen to a growing and well-motivated group than they are to a few individuals.  We are doing this in Edinburgh’s West End right now, beginning to make overtures to the authorities for involvement in their processes, having built our local Facebook group from 20 to 570 people over the past three months.  Go slow.  Ask the authorities to help you (and offer, where you can, to help them) – act first, then build from there.

Now read the article at https://thespinoff.co.nz/partner/te-punaha-matatini/27-08-2020/collective-impact-shining-the-light-on-community-post-covid-19/. (H/T Rayya Ghul for pointing me to the article).

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