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Lake of latent energy

Where were you seeing energy for change before the pandemic? 

We all have the ability to create change through our individual and collective agency. Often the desire for change lies dormant, perhaps because we don’t have the time or energy or motivation to act.

Yet it is the resource that can create change when it is released. And nothing releases our energy for change like an inciting incident - a crisis.

This is why communities who have historically experienced adversity and trauma such as wars, migration, and natural disasters are also those with the most resilience and inertia for change.

You apply for funding on a straight line; you do the project on a wavy line. Community projects never go as planned!

Creative Director and Grounds Manager, Gatis Community Space, Wolverhampton Adam Billington

What we heard...

“We had this idea of connecting through the streets of Chorlton neighbours who were more motivated to do something, to improve their immediate neighbourhood. I remember two to three weeks before COVID hit we had a meeting to talk about Street Connectors [the initiative that had been set up]. And then, with lockdown, within two weeks we had 85% of streets in Chorlton with street connectors.

Nick Dixon, Senior Advisor in Person and Community Centred Approaches, Greater Manchester

“We had ideas [before the pandemic] already, we’d been working on them for two to three years. It gave it a new emphasis, focus, momentum. Everyone had to stay on the street. We got some emergency funding... that allowed us to experiment. It gave us a chance to see how it would land and it’s grown in that way. You apply for funding on a straight line; you do the project on a wavy line. Community projects never go as planned!”

Adam Billington, Creative Director and Grounds Manager, Gatis Community Space, Wolverhampton


 

Stats and facts

One way we might think of latent energy is the difference between people saying they want to get involved in collective social and political activities such as volunteering and voting but don’t at the moment. Such data is difficult to come by. However, there is currently a high level of disengagement from national and local decision-making:.

  • 47% feel they have no influence at all over national decision-making – the highest the figure has been since 2004.
  • 42% say they have no influence at all over local decision-making and 32% say they do not want to be involved at all in local decision-making one third say they never discuss government or politics.

Source: Hansard audit of political engagement (2019)


 

Food for thought

“We identified three key ingredients of a well-balanced life. Let’s call them the ABCs of meaning. The A is agency—autonomy, freedom, creativity, mastery; the belief that you can impact the world around you. The B is belonging—relationships, community, friends, family; the people that surround and nurture you. The C is cause—a calling, a mission, a direction, a purpose; a transcendent commitment beyond yourself that makes your life worthwhile. We tend to prioritize one element over the others.”

Bruce Feiler, Life Is in the Transitions

“But I prefer to see [chemistry] as the study of change. Well, that’s all of life, right? … It’s solution then dissolution, over and over and over. It’s growth, then decay, then transformation."

Walter White (Breaking Bad)

Navigating change before the pandemic

  • Different starting points

    To what extent has your experience of Covid-19 been impacted by your own starting points or those of your local community?

  • Clouds of austerity

    How have the cuts in public funding impacted you, your family and your local community over the last decade?

  • Peaks of power and privilege

    What did power and privilege mean to you before the pandemic?

  • Old world inertia

    To what extent do you feel the pull of the old and the familiar in your own life and the communities and institutions that you are a part of?

  • Lake of latent energy

    Where were you seeing energy for change before the pandemic?

  • Castles of command and control

    What has been your experience of engaging with public, voluntary and other services – to what extent did you feel they were designed to meet your needs?