Knowing your neighbourhood

Element Descriptor

Being able to keep tabs on what is happening in your neighbourhood, and where your particular skills and energies might support useful projects is a massively undervalued skill. Not all politics involves the occupation of Trafalgar Square….

Level descriptors

NovicePractitionerExpertNinja
You know the names of your councillors, some of the movers and shakers, and the major stuff that is going on in your ward around the things you care aboutYou are on speaking (even friendly!) terms with the local influencers, be they of your faith/class/political outlook or not. You know how local decisions are made, not made and unmade. You’re well aware of the local efforts at making life more tolerable, and what can be done to support them.You know what is happening in your ward and even neighbouring wards. You know the recent history of the ups and downs of various projects and initiatives, and who to talk to to get anything done… People come to you for advice, and you usually have something useful to say. When you don’t, you say that you don’t, obvs.You know the names of all the individual trees in the local park. You know the local issues before they blossom into controversy. You’re not a busy body, but you do know what is going on pretty much everywhere in your locality.

Element Overview Essay

This is a draft. If something doesn’t make sense, or you see typos, or if you have further ideas, please email us on contact@activecitizenshiptoolkit.net

The reason people don’t know their neighbourhood is we’re all busy. There are lots of enticing things on the idiot box. Netflix, internet. We already have existing networks of friends. Communities are actually made up of people – some of whom we don’t necessarily like. You can’t really choose your neighbours. And this idea that a community is free of conflict and backbiting is a silly illusion. neighbourhoods can also be threatening to some people depending on where you live.

The consequences though of not knowing, you know who your councillors are, who the influential people in the community are, what the current problems and activities are, is that you as an active citizenship group are frankly disconnected and unaware of what is going on and what people care about, which means that you can’t assist and be assisted.

The solutions involve getting to know your neighbourhood, being involved in tenants and residents associations and litter picks, spending time cultivating contacts Among the local movers and shakers, raising issues with your councillors, if you can, etc, etc. But this is also an you should be aware, something that decays quite quickly. So, contrast it with typing:  you can not type for a few years and then start doing it and you could get back up to speed very quickly.

But things change in communities. People leave, people die. New people come along, and you need to be constantly updating your knowledge because it has a half-life and is harder to recover than some other skills…

Development Resources

Assessment Resources