I think the time has come to debate the future of Our Society, and, even ask the question "does it have one?".
Just to remind people of why we started all this; here is our purpose http://oursociety.org.uk/page/our-purpose. Our Society grew out of Big Society in the North, which was established both to argue for an alternative vision to the Government's Big Society agenda, and to help those people-led organisations struggling to find their way in a landscape of funding cuts and shifting priorities. Its over-riding aim was to help people share what works in local people-led development, as well as holding to account those who claimed to have new solutions, visions and blueprints. While we started with a northern (English) agenda, we soon found that our arguments rang true in lots of other parts of the country too; so Big Society in the North morphed into Our Society.
I think we were initially successful in what we set out to do, but we have never had any resources, and we have relied on a small core group of volunteers to keep this site running and organise anything else Our Society has sought to do. This site used to be a very busy, buzzing place, but, in recent months, this activity has died down, and some days it is very quiet.
One of the big positives that Our Society had going for it was its ability to maintain a "helicopter-view" of the landscape, looking across the silos of different approaches to local development while being outside any one of them. I think where we have suffered in that, bit-by-bit, more people have been dragged into the silos. I think we took the decision not to look for resources because that might have risked creating another silo; but the irony is that this means we don't have the resources to fight against the silos that have the money.
We now face a position where the demands on the core group of volunteers may not be able to be serviced. And, on top of this, there are questions about whether we can find the (modest) budget to keep this site going.
So, is Our Society important to you?
What would it take to get you more involved?
Should we just give up, archive the materials, and move on?
Please let me (and other members of the core group) know in the comments section below.
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