Thursday, 14 June 2007

Rural rides While the Carnegie Commission report on Rural Community Development, just published, turns up the volume for local rural interests in relation to community assets, governance and empowerment, I've been pottering round parts of rural and coastal Dorset this past week. I took particular delight in a few bus rides, fascinated at the frequency of cheerful semi-routine encounters between people who knew one another, whether or not they were neighbours. Rural isolation leaves many people dependent on, and spending a lot of time on, this transport. I also picked up some interesting insights into rural community politics - same as everywhere, ie those who have wealth and power will do all they can to keep it to themselves, including co-option of as much of the media as possible and ceaselessly shoring-up the structures that defend what they have - what the law exerts itself to protect. That may or may not help explain comic oddities like this - a call by the traders of Lyme Regis for CCTV on their streets. I've visited many localities around the UK and beyond, some of them quite difficult places to inhabit or even to visit, and IMHO Lyme Regis is one of the very last places that needs CCTV. And (though it's not the same thing) I suggest that CCTV is one of the last things the town needs - after a modest list which glaringly includes more opportunities for young people, and some concerted economic development that should emerge from the latest community plan. Meanwhile, I love the quirky anomalies you pick up sometimes in rural craft shops - like this bizarre figure which would possibly have stopped me in my tracks in London or in an airport gift store, let alone a quiet rural settlement.

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