When thinking about my two August shows for the ‘Local Lunch’ radio programme for August I did not expect to be researching riots.
The working theme for my second show has been communities and local food, specifically looking at the ‘Localism Bill’. Concerned with the disappearance of independent retailers from my town, yet inspired by what I have been seen in other places, I have been asking myself a question: Can locally owned enterprise, specifically locally grown and sold food be a cohesive force in a community.
Cities are on fire, shops are being looted and some Turkish shopkeepers are taking protection of their own livelihoods into their own hands. Questions will be asked, recriminations made, but the only question I have is where do we go afterwards? When the fires have been put out how will communities learn to trust each other again?
I have seen for myself the empowering force of a collective project after a civil disturbance in Bristol. ‘The Peoples Republic of Stokes Croft’ tired of the supermarket invasion rose up but then mostly importantly came together as a community to provide a solution, an alternative to the hegemony of today’s high street.
Is localism the way forward? Should we have more power at the local level to decide what happens in our towns? Can ‘Big Society’ happen or do the riots show that our communities are too fractured?
As always I would love to hear from you on this issue via the blog or Twitter.
I will be on air next Tuesday the 16th of August from 12-2pm with the ‘Local Lunch’ show and I hope you can listen in then;