Andrew Mawson (now a Cross Bencher in the House of Lords) has written a very important book with this work. It chronicles his experiences in Bromley-by-Bow, an impoverished area of East London, from his arrival there as a United Reform Church Vicar in 1984 through his driving of the the development of social enterprises, health centres and other vital services to this community – with the whole hearted support of the community and despite the best efforts of local and national Government.
I picked this book up almost by accident and I’m so glad that I did. I found it incredibly motivating – whilst there are some good, practical hints in there it’s more of a history and how problems were coped with as they arose – I think the author should settle down and write a further book ‘Practical Lessons from Bromley-by-Bow’ – I would certainly buy a copy!
Rather than pontificate too much, I’ll refer you to an article by Andrew Mawson himself:
I have to say that the experiences he documents reflect the sort of experiences I’ve had in a much smaller way with many funding organisations and local authority, national Government and EU bodies over the years. This was the original impetus for my CommunityNet and CommunityHost projects, and reading this book has made me want bigger and better things for the projects that I’m involved with.
I agree with Mawson’s basic tenets; it is essential that anyone wishing to develop their community needs to get buy in from the bottom up – from the people who are suppsoed to benefit from the efforts being expended. This means involving these people, and letting them become the architects of their own solutions – not watchers and observers. This is the ‘CommunityNet Philosophy’ that I elaborate on here; I now feel in excellent company.
An excellent and motivational book; one that I whole heartedly recommend!