Can FPN find a place in community networks?

Without real practical connections becoming alive and sparking between people in communities, then politics dies.This is George Monbiot’s thesis. Monbiot – activist, researcher and writer – has been laying out his vision of a reborn politics based on a thick web of interconnected grass roots and community activities.

Given the state of so many shattered communities, today’s politics can easily become all about argument and policy. It gets to seem dry, thinned out and irrelevant to most people. Live connected communities are essential if politics is to become vital and relevant to most people.

Over the last 20 years, the winds of globalisation have ripped through many communities and towns, atomising us, breaking down real connectivity between people. Recently it has become public knowledge just how many people are living such lonely isolated lives, that they may not speak to another person in a whole week. George Monbiot has written in the Guardian (8th Feb 2017 ):

“It is in the powder of shattered communities that anti-politics swirls, raising towering dust-devils of demagoguery and extremism. These tornadoes threaten to tear down whatever social structures still stand. When people are atomised and afraid, they feel driven to defend their own interests against other people’s. In other words, they are pushed away from intrinsic values such as empathy, connectedness and kindness, and towards extrinsic values such as power, fame and status.”

We need to restore community life in all its many varieties as a solution and response to the many crises we face. George Monbiot argues for creating thick networks – ” projects that develop a dense participatory culture ” – and he cites the example of Rotterdam in Holland where one estimate suggests there are now 1, 300 civic projects in the city. In the same article, Monbiot also looks at Todmorden in Yorkshire.

The question that I want to ask is this – is this movement that is participatory grass roots network the sort of movement that FPN should be linking up to, and contributing to? If Yes, then how do we start to do that?

Andy Metcalf

February 2017