I’ve been scootling around the place recently making a series of short films as means of introductory pieces for a neighbourhood safety conference in the Hague this coming week. I’ve met four groups from Birmingham and two from The Hague, all working experimenting with ways to give residents more power in reducing grime and the associated crime.
Just before Christmas I also spent an incredibly wet day in Glasgow where I met some very fine people from the city’s shiny new Community and Safety Service. It’s pulling together funding, ideas, equipment and people from all of the different pots of public money aimed at tackling crime and grime.
Of especial interest is the structure. The GCSS is a non-profit company owned by the council, police, fire service and the city’s housing company. I sensed a really positive attitude among the staff I met. They seemed to have more energy and optimism than you might find among council teams in other large cities. Am I doing others a disservice or does the autonomy that can come with creating a social enterprise give the work force a greater confidence in their ability to change things?
Today Demos has also popped up a podcast about last years rather controversial report on dreams for Glasgow’s future. When the row bubbled up I thought that most of our cities need some sort of institutional hacks. One is doing anything in your power to remove the grey hand of bureaucracy from people’s working days – let ’em do what they love to do rather than what the risk averse tell you they must do.
Alastair – who appears in the film – was very much a man after my own heart. He’s passionate about how social media can be used to connect neighbourhoods, including maintaining this blog for his home patch in Leith. Other films (which you can find here) and some Grassroots Channel podcasts from Birmingham still to come.
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