Reasserting Community Development Values : NATCAN Conference

The National Community Activists Network [NATCAN], formed in May 2011, held its first conference in Preston last week. Joe Taylor has put together a provisional, challenging report based on the contributions of four key speakers.

David Malone, author of ‘The Debt Generation’.

“The financial system had become systematically corrupt. It is no longer fit, or even designed, for the purpose of spreading wealth. It has become a means of looting wealth from those foolish enough to observe the laws, and transferring it to those who regard themselves as far too clever and superior to have to bother with such trifling niceties.”

Tim Gee, author of ‘Counterpower’.

“Politicians bemoan people’s lack of interest in politics. When they do so, they are usually bemoaning the lack of people supporting their politics. Because when a real political movement rises to challenge a government, that government will do everything it can to hold the people concerned back. Governments will try discrediting the movement, smearing it, co-opting it, dividing and ruling it, or – if all else fails – crushing it.”

Andy Benson of the National Coalition for Independent Action [NCIA].

Andy suggests that the voluntary sector organisations and charities should put politics back into circulation, confront the power relations, seek peer solidarity and support, hassle the second tier organisations to come off the fence, redirect their resources and give proper support to groups trying to fight what is happening.  It isn’t good enough to accept commissions to implement state agendas that are detrimental to public good just to keep CEO’s and a reduced staff in employment and hope to influence government policy in some small way from the inside.

Nick Beddow of the Community Development Exchange.

Now is the time to reassert Community Development values:  Social Justice, Equality, Collective Action and Community Empowerment.

Empowered communities can work and learn together.  Hierarchical structures are ineffective against leaderless networks – you can’t wipe out something that doesn’t have a hierarchical structure of ‘the leaders and the led’ but instead has a horizontal CD way of doing things – facilitating, connecting and offering guidance when we have something to offer.   It’s not up to a small group to lead anyone.  It’s about having shared values, a shared vision, sharing our thinking, acknowledging our differences, valuing our diversity and learning from each other.

Much of interest and relevance to our Campaign.

The full conference report can be found on pdf here or on the NATCAN site.

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