Sunday, 01 July 2012

Further footnote on taking in neighbours’ post Someone has kindly sent me this version of the Royal Mail’s ‘neighbours not trusted here’ sticker. It can be displayed brazenly by those unwilling to take in post on behalf of a temporarily absent neighbour, or to have their own post held by a neighbour. The sticker measures about 5 inches by 2 inches. I’m curious to know whether post workers will carry spare copies with them, so that if they disturb someone who declines to take in post, but has not displayed, they can encourage them either to change their mind or to apply the sticker. I'm also wondering if estate agents, perhaps offering a valuation to a prospective seller, might subtly suggest they remove the sticker before prospective purchasers come round? And as a neighbour, supposing you needed to pop round and ask or tell them something - say, 'sorry just to let you know we're having builders round the back the next few days, sorry if there's a bit of noise and dust' or whatever... Would you just happen to notice and remark, oh what's the sticker you have, I didn't get one of those, what does it do? Meanwhile, at the door this morning was a rep from a private delivery company, asking would I take in a package for two doors along. I asked him if many people decline, in his experience, and he told me that when one refuses, ‘you find quite a lot are the same and it’s hard to get anyone to take it.’ He also claimed that in some streets, where there are well-kept houses and front gardens but one stands out as unkempt, no-one will take a parcel for that house. I would treat that story with caution. Previously: Footnote on taking in your neighbour’s post Neighbours not trusted here
When networks drift Julian Dobson wrote a first-rate post last week on the struggle to keep the Our Society network going, reflecting on the viability of sustained action in such spaces generally. But from where I sit, as someone who might have had something to contribute but knew from the outset that I’d not have the time to do so, Julian’s title, ‘When networks fail’, seems too negative: on what terms did it ‘fail’? I certainly thought it was ambitiously broad-based, and I wouldn’t have expected it to thrive for years. Ambition is good, broad-based is good. I’m sure some people ‘discovered’ Our Society and made valuable connections or gained huge reassurance that they were not isolated; others got information or ideas checked out. And spin-off mini-networks will have been born or refreshed as a consequence. Maybe Our Society will settle down as a little link-pad for the ethos it promotes. Energy has flared from it, now it's dimmed but other planets may be forming. We simply know too little about the legacy of such efforts, making the same mistake that people in the Organisation Age did. If the evolution of our thinking is tied too closely to a name representing something highly organised (a body or a profession, a corporation, a discipline…), when the growth of that body falters, we might think our evolution has stopped. In a time of drift, go with the energy. We will have failed when we believe that drift is failure; and when we stop being ambitious. At the end of his post Julian wryly quotes Beckett, so I can’t resist offering another quote from the master: ‘I can’t stop. I can’t go on. Let’s see what happens next.’

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