...in the bottom drawer
I knew I'd lose it so I put it in a safe place, and now I can't remember where it is.

currently stashed in: Cheshire Street, London
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August 17, 2006 || 7:49 pm
Planning in New Orleans, and volunteering in London

A great post from my mate Lucy on planning post-Katrina and the farce of 'democracy' that it involves. Particularly good on the self-presentation skills of New Urbanist Andres Duany, who skilfully manages to seem like the good guy in comparison to all the rest, despite his backstory of designing pastiche developments exclusively for the white and rich. really worth reading for all interested in 'participation' - it is extreme, but weirdly not that far at all from what happens here in the name of 'community' involvement.

Which brings me onto another good post from Kevin Harris which continues his musings about the real nature of the 'neighbourhood governance' that our government is so keen on. Otherwise, if I was to be more cynical than I'm allowed to be normally, known as 'poor people should get off their asses and help themselves'. Volunteering is a measure of good citizenship, especially if you are a single mother on a sink estate.

"People are exhausted and disillusioned, they feel unsupported, and they can't see anyone coming through to take up the baton." And these are volunteers who choose to get involved, only to have the heft of huge responsibility thrust upon them. A new measure of success according to Gordon Brown is the proportion of local public services that are delivered by 'community' organisations rather than the state.

People with some energy (like myself, I have to say) choose NOT to get involved because they don't want their lives to be taken over by the responsibility. There's got to be a middle way between wanting to be able to influence the way things get run, and being told 'well, if you want it to be better, do it all yourself'.

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7:39 pm
Unsung landmarks

I like things to do with identity: at GPA we work on this theme a lot; even to the point of saying maybe it is the basis of our whole approach.

therefore lovely to see the BBC's online survey of Britain's unsung landmarks, as nominated by readers. All the things that don't make it inot tourist brochures, that by some supposed measure of 'value' are 'ordinary', 'ugly' or 'boring' - yet which make us feel that a place is special. Cooling towers, pylons, and fantastic testimony from individuals:

"I love the Runcorn chemical works. When I was a kid we often used to drive past it at night (on our way back from a holiday in Wales). I asked my father what it was - then decided I wanted to be a chemist so that I could work there. Twenty years later I have a degree in chemistry and am on my way to a PhD - all I need now is the job."

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