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Grassroots civil society

Welcome to another Sunday ramble when I let you into the dustier pathways of my mind. No prizes for guessing what’s on my mind this morning. I’m out taking photographs again today and the weather is promising to be cloudy with sunny intervals. The colour of the sky is actually reflected down and and affects my photos. I often brighten up my photos to make them sunnier!

I keep meaning to wash my car, but I might have it washed at this fun day today! Neonatal care is a worthwhile charity to support. Medical science has come a long way since the days when even a birth was dangerous and many babies died in the first hours of life. Now we see tiny premature babies make it and grow to  become healthy children.

I’m still admin of the History of Wednesbury page on Facebook. It gives me something to do when I’m bored. I do an advanced search of the internet to find information or use my camera to copy documents or photos. My friend keeps saying I should change the name because it’s developing into a community page. I did change the description when I started, but the name will stay the same. It fits in with what I want to do in the community, which is try and make it a bit better. I got involved in a debate about the Black Country Festival last night on Facebook. The officials and councils are getting involved and it does seem like they’re taking the fun out of it. People make a festival fun and they all have different ideas, so why not just let them get on with it, but under a collective banner and we have just the banner for it – the Black Country flag!

That’s my version of it. I bought a couple of proper Black Country flags off Black Country Gaz, the genius who came up with the idea for the Black Country Festival. I met him at a Big Up the Black Country event. That event was to raise funds to save the Dudley Hippodrome. That’s a good cause too, but I’m not sure if everyone in the Black Country will support it.

The point is that civil society can emerge from the grass roots and give people a voice, they can organise things that they enjoy. There has to be some organisation and safety considerations. We have to involve other organisations like councils and the police, but they should help, not take over. If the organisation is too rigid, the people won’t feel the festival is theirs and get involved.

People are motivated by different things, some are promoting their small businesses, some people want a community voice, there are people like me who want to just get involved without attending committee meetings or first aid classes. I think they should all get involved, but larger businesses should support the project not take over or hi-jack it.

Civil society around the world is a growing movement improving life for people. The Prime Minister had the idea of hijacking the movement and calling it his Big Society. That idea went down like a lead balloon. Some ordinary bloke with a guitar tries to improve society, people will back him. Some rich snobby git tries it and people walk away, muttering ‘whatever’… People don’t really want the mayor making events formal, we prefer organised chaos.

The principle of civil society can be applied to many community projects. Carnivals, art festivals, fun days, horticultural shows and even sport. The role of officialdom is not to judge it or take over, but to provide support, administrative, safety and maybe financial support.

Today’s fun day will mean more money going into neonatal care, what’s not to like? I must start to get ready for that!

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