The Story of Our Future: Civil Society Report

The Civil Society Futures enquiry launches project lanches its report today. The Story of Our Future report set out to consider the “future for civil society,” by examening the “environment in which civil society operates, the many pressures and changes it faces, and engaged groups,networks, organisations and individuals to develop a shared understanding of what the future might hold, and the role of civil society in shaping it.”

The forward states

Civil society involves all of us. When we act not for profit nor because the law requires us to, but out of love or anger or creativity, or principle, we are civil society. When we bring together our friends or colleagues or neighbours to have fun or to defend our rights or to look after each other, we are civil society.

Whether we organise through informal friendship networks,Facebook groups, community events and protests; or formal committees, charities, faiths and trade unions, whether we block runways or co-ordinate coffee mornings, sweat round charity runs or make music for fun; when we organise ourselves outside the market and the state, we are all civil society.

The report can be downloaded as a pdf, or viewed online:

On Tuesday, November 20, 10:40am - 11:10am (GMT) Julia Unwin, chair of the Civil Society Futures inquiry, will give a speech about the final findings of the inquiry. The speech will be available to watch online on the Civil Society Futures Twitter feed: https://twitter.com/civsocfutures

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Much of this is the sort of thing we try to achieve at LCR, particularly stage 4. I think it is a great missed opportunity that they don’t yet see the value of community radio in assisting them, particularly with stage 4.

Is it worth the CMA approaching them as a higher level view? If they have anything in Leicester then LCR would be very keen to work with them as their goals are very aligned.

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I’m personally committed to changing this perception, as community media is too often seen as fragmented and disparate - not only in reports like this, but in academia and in government policy making.

The question seems to go around in circles so often: Is it media or is it community engagement?

Too often the focus is simply on media regulation and compliance (which is important), but we are not aligned with and contributing to the debates and discussions about civil society, and the ways that the whole Social Sector approach is being developed by the government.

The first stage, in my head, is to produce a snapshot of where we think these corresponding approaches might be found? Which is what I’m hoping to do at the Mapping Community Media event on Saturday.

Then we will need to build our connections and discussions with other civil society groups, so that we can share experience and ideas. Gaining recognition more widely, as a cohesive and progressive movement of community media practitioners and advocates, is vital. But this needs to be credible and based on solid evidence, development planning and inclusive and innovative thinking that represents a wide and diverse set of approaches.

Our task is very difficult, because we are a patchwork of practices, concerns, motivations, technologies, and so on. It’s our strength that there is no one way to do community media, but it does mean that it becomes harder to get our message across to potential partners, stakeholders, volunteers, and even ourselves sometimes.

Following this, we need to reshape the way that governments and regulators think about community media, building on the approach that we’ve been developing over the last couple of years.

If we are continually challenging ourselves in an inclusive and supportive way, to think about the social gain underpinnings of community media, we can use that to promote the work we do.

With vibrant evidence that draws people in from across the all of society, and with creative and inventive ways of thinking about our sustainability and accountability, we can play a more active role in shaping civil society, and be recognised and acknowledged for that role.

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Here’s a follow-up article in The Guardian about the context tothe report:

It’s well worth watching and listening to Julia Unwin’s speach introducing the Civil Society Futures report: