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Thinking In Complex Ways And Development On Our Own Doorstep

In September 2000 advocates from 189 countries signed up to the United Nations Millennium Declaration which is a statement for the rights of the poor. The declaration commits countries to fighting poverty and has its main drivers set out in the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) which include halving the numbers of people living in extreme poverty by 2015.

Millenium Development Goals Reports

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Public Places Where We Meet And Share Are Third Places

What is the value of a pub ?  How important is a cafe ?  Why do we need libraries ?  Do we just wash clothes in laundrettes ?  These are some of the questions which I am interested in when I explore the concept of ‘third place’.  Pubs, cafes, libraries and laundrettes can all be ‘third places’ according to Prof Ray Oldenburg who coined the term.  He argues in detail of the importance of these social spaces which exist outside of our homes (first place) and workplaces (second place).  Third places are the spaces where we meet and share with other people… Read more

Discrete Correspondences: Student Support Services On Zero Hours Contracts

Over the years, I have had many conversations and emails with various people involved in formal education – much of which remains private between myself and those individuals.  Occasionally I ask if I can share some of these conversations and personal correspondences in the public realm as I think they are important first hand accounts of what is happening.

What follows in the quotation marks is a verbatim excerpt from a private correspondence with an academic in a UK university sharing their feelings about what is happening to the higher education environment where they work.  The commercial forces are replacing values of learning and nurture with those of ‘cost effectiveness’ and profit.

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Manchester Medical Mission Affiliates to Charter Street Ragged School by Simon Ward

Here are my notes from when I went back to the archive to look up the Manchester Medical Mission which was affiliated to Charter Street Ragged School and Working Girls Home. It was situated on Red Bank which is on the opposite side of the Irk from Angel Meadow and is now called Green Bank. The information was all in the form of year books from 1901 to 1910. Their evangelising seemed a bit more aggressive than their Charter St counterparts and some of the language they used would now look inappropriate.

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Kintsugi: Learning To Love The Critical

It is hard sometimes to not get caught up on the politics of group think and remain honest and true to the reality that you experience. I certainly have found this in both developing the Ragged University project and being honest in my own personal setting. I have long struggled with the uncomfortable nature of being critical especially when I worry that I may be upsetting some constructive setting or community.

An example and metaphor is that situation where you are at a birthday party in someone’s house and one person in the setting is being particularly toxic but outside of anyone else’s earshot, what is the correct way to deal with this? Often the ‘British way’ is to suppress it, put on a stiff upper lip and continue smiling – ‘grin and bear it’ I believe the expression is. But this is classic head in the sand stuff, and this way lets all kind of problems florish. Read more

Working Men’s Clubs and Education by Dr Ruth Cherrington

It’s for a good reason that I gave my book on working men’s clubs (WMCs) the title ‘Not just Beer and Bingo!’ They were always about much more than drinking and low level gambling. I will outline here the important educational aspects that WMCs started out with which were part of their ‘self help’ ethos. Another article will follow WMCs into the 20th century describing how, whilst educational aspects declined, they did not entirely disappear. Read more

Why Is Everyone Not A Demographic ? by Alex Dunedin

Along the way in trying to get formal support for the Ragged University, I have encountered endless bureaucracies which, if taken onboard, distance you from the work at hand.  In the case of Ragged University, it is about building communities of learning networks where people share their knowledge and skills in social spaces.  As far as engaging with the bureaucracies goes, I have wound up analysing the processes instead of engaging as the culture itself seems to be a key factor in why so many social and community activities are dying out in our landscape. Read more

An Interview With A Development Worker: Shahid Khan

Shahid Khan is the founder and CEO of the Indus Earth Trust, a development project which is based in Pakistan.  In this interview he talks about his work helping people to build their own earthquake proof house, start their own business, and become an autonomous agent in the local economy.  Starting the informal interview out with questioning me, Alex Dunedin, about the Ragged University project, he then goes on to talking about his experience of trying to get people to adopt sustainable development techniques which take account of the cost to the environment. Read more

Development with Dignity; New Perspectives By Shahid Khan

So they built a proper tarmac road past a village whose only access was a dirt road of sorts. The village was a cohesive community, each person knew and cared for each other. They were a contented relatively happy people. The road bought outside influences that slowly destroyed the cohesiveness of the community. Shops and eating places opened up, some of the villagers benefited.

Competition removed the “community” togetherness. Neighbours stopped talking to each other. Jealousies’ thrived. Innocence was lost. The ‘capitalist’ over view that is part of ‘outside’ world came to a community that for generations were happy. They had achieved and preserved something that many seek but a few find. Seeing this outside prosperity, outsiders bought up land which removed ‘wealth’ from the less well off. They felt rejected. They had lived here for generations without feeling insecure. The road eventually bought less than more. Read more