Newsletter summer 2012
The government has asked me to carry out an independent review into barriers to choice in public services. This is a huge challenge and very exciting, given what I have written about public services over the years. I am now based for half the week in the Cabinet Office with a brilliant team around me, trying to clear away the acres of research reports about competition theory to get to the nitty-gritty: do people actually get options in practice, and do they use them?
I wish I could claim credit for the NEI’s inaugural conference on the Hudson River this month (of course I can’t), but I have been involved in the institute’s development since it was the old E F Schumacher Society, including two months with my family in the snow of western Massachusetts back in 2010. So I am so excited that it looks like it will be a major player in the emergence of a new economy in the USA. This is Bob Massie’s barnstorming conference speech.
The death of the pioneer of co-production is a major blow for thinkers everywhere, and I was sad I never met her. But it does give the opportunity to rehearse why she was such an important figure, not just for launching the co-production idea, but also because of the critical questions she poses to wrong-headed modern systems of organisation – and why they have failed so miserably. This is what I wrote.
It really is worth taking a look at the brilliant short online film based on Edgar Cahn’s Parable of the Blobs and Squares, which explains the ideas behind co-production in a completely different way. Apart from the amazing animation, the best thing about this is the voiceover by Brian Blessed. This is definitely worth a look.
My ebook on the history of the allotments movement has now been the basis of a number of talks to local history societies, which has been fun. The book itself is now selling on Amazon for £1.99 and I am trying to avoid the idea that I am setting myself up as some kind of gardening expert. This is what I wrote on the Spectator books blog about the big mystery: why did allotments plummet in popularity after the success of Dig for Victory?
Have a brilliant summer – and let me know about your own experiences of public service choice (or the lack of it)...