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Thursday, 9 February 2017

101 Thinking out loud about democracy

So, this is the last post of the localopolis blog.  I'm writing it just before the 2017 version of the notwestminster event.  I’ve got a new project to get started and so now seems to be the right time to conclude.  Also, to be fair, I did say I would write 101 posts and that is just what I have done (and it only took me…. seven years!).  I'm still writing over at local democracy geek of course.

I’ve called this post ‘thinking out loud about democracy’ partly as a description of what I have been doing and partly because I think, generally, it’s a good idea.  Democracy is not carved in stone and handed down from the mountainside.  It is in a constant state of change and is the result of choices that people make.  Just look at the last 2,500 years of history if you don’t believe me.  Sometimes things change because of crisis and necessity.  But sometimes things change because someone hears a new idea and thinks ‘yes, we should do that’.  It’s good to share these ideas because they can make things better.  We don't need to do things simply because that's the way they have always been done.

In this blog I’ve written about ideas for improving my practice, ways of changing the system and even fanciful notions about how democracy might be completely different.  Sometimes I have just shared an idea I have liked, sometimes I have written lists of tips and sometimes I have put together two previously unconnected things to make something new.  I have tried to connect the academic world and the world of practice where I can - I’ve posted a couple of things from my PhD and I’ve enjoyed pointing to the great thinkers of the past where I could (Rousseau’s the man - did I mention?).

I can’t claim that this blog has changed the world, or even that it has been particularly well read, but, if it has sparked a thought that led to a small change for the better then great.  No harm done anyhow.

Of course writing a blog like this has benefits for the blogger.  I recently read ‘Working Out Loud’ by John Stepper.  One of the arguments that he makes is that sharing your thinking in public can help you make new connections and start productive relationships.  I’d say that this has certainly been true for this blog and I have made a number of links with people that I would not have done otherwise - through comments on the blog or via twitter.  

Linked to this, another benefit is that many of the ideas the ideas have been improved by comments and feedback.  I have also learnt about a lot of things that I wouldn’t have found out about otherwise.  This post about the citizen’s chest is a great example.

Thank you so much to everyone has commented, shared or otherwise contributed.  Turns out that blogging is as much about the stuff you get as it is about the stuff you give. Thanks, and I really mean that.

The blog has also served as a handy noticeboard.  Ask me about how we do the wellbeing assessment in Swansea or what I think about scrutiny support and I can just send you a link.  

On a personal level I would say it has been almost therapeutic - certainly it’s been good to get the ideas out online when they don’t really have anywhere else to go.  

So, my last post yes.  But, if you have read this and you think that thinking out loud about democracy, via blog or some other way is a good thing to do.  

Just do it.

And if you do let me know.  

I would love to read it.


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