From Kropotkin to Mao – and back

Posted in: Comment, News and Updates

I was part of a creative small group at the West Midlands Sustainable Schools network before Easter.  We were asked for our views on what we might do in relation to supporting the work of the network.

This is what our group said – well, it's what I noted down:

  • There is a lot of sustainable development goals [SDG]-related activity going on across England, although not all of it is (yet) SDG-focused.
  • This involves local authorities, businesses, charities, social enterprises, and ad hoc groups of many kinds; they work with schools, early-years providers, universities and colleges, and the general public in all its forms; some of those involved are groups representative of other groups.
  • Some of this is very local, some regional, some national, and some is part of international structures.
  • Some of this is largely invisible, whilst much is connected to other work; as such, the word overlapping is a better description than disparate.
  • In all this, central government is often completely absent, and much is owed to ground-up, self-organisation in the best English traditions over many years.
  • It relies heavily on voluntary activity. Whilst it is, arguably, all the better for this, some groups clearly lack the funding both to be more effective, and to work with others.
  • There is a lot of tacit knowledge and understanding within these groups, although the confidence to express this is not always seen. For example, not everyone needs to be told (yet again) that being outdoors is good for you.
  • There is much potential for work to be done with similar group(ings) that are working on other issues (e.g., health improvement and well-being more generally) as the notional differences between them mask great similarities of interest and operation.
  • Those groups that enjoy most success are likely, one way to another, to model resilient ecosystems.
  • If this metaphor has substance, the challenge is not to count or categorise the plants, but to nurture them and the “thousand flowers” they represent – but only in a non-Maoist sense.


Posted in: Comment, News and Updates


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