what you get here

This is not a blog which expresses instant opinions on current events. It rather uses incidents, books (old and new), links and papers as jumping-off points for some reflections about our social endeavours.
So old posts are as good as new! And lots of useful links!

Friday, July 25, 2014

Seeking common ground; puzzling development???

The website name – and its “tags” – are clearly crucial choices for a new website which actually wants to attract traffic. So far the tagwords I’ve suggested are
Capacity development, Civil service reform, citizen action, Community development, corporate power, democracy, democratization, governance, institutional Capacity, local government, machinery of government, media, modernizing government, protest, public administration reform, training, Central Asia, Bulgaria, Germany, Romania, Scotland, Bulgarian painting, Romanian painting, social democracy, social change….
You can see my problem!

I was pondering “Conviviality” as the website name not so much for of its epicurean connotations as the link with the writings of the sadly forgotten Ivan Illich of the 1970s – particularly his “Tools of Conviviality
I choose the term “conviviality” to designate the opposite of industrial productivity. I intend it to mean autonomous and creative intercourse among persons, and the intercourse of persons with their environment; and this in contrast with the conditioned response of persons to the demands made upon them by others, and by a man-made environment. I consider conviviality to be individual freedom realized in personal interdependence and, as such, an intrinsic ethical value. I believe that, in any society, as conviviality is reduced below a certain level, no amount of industrial productivity can effectively satisfy the needs it creates among society’s members.
And I also have a weakness for words with a Latin root – such as “com-panion” (breaking bread with); “con-spiracy” (breathing with) etc Perhaps Illich is not so forgotten – The Atlantic Journal had a piece about him only 2 years ago  

But I’m really looking for a name which reflects my interest in establishing a “common ground” or agenda amongst social and political activists with which the power structure and elites can be challenged in a sustainable manner. “Exploring Common Ground” is an obvious one. And I’ve looked at various metaphors relating to borders – one of my favourite writers EG Hirschmann entitled one of his books “Essays in Trespassing” and the concept is discussed here. It seems increasingly difficult - and yet necessary - for people to cross intellectual disciplines/borders and the word "trespass" is such a negative one that "bordercrossing" might be better.
But "exploring/seeking common ground" has a head start on the other names......

Except that I recall the titles of the two little books I produced in the 90s - "Puzzling Development"; and "In Transit". 
I still like both - the first for the play of words - the first can be either adjective or verb!
And "in transit" connotes movement and travel - indeed I used it as shorthand for "transition". 
Unfortunately the website name is taken - but "Puzzling Development" is not - and, in my time, I have puzzled -
- regional development
- urban development
- community development
- institutional development
- capacity development

More recently, I have been daring to question the whole concept of development. Perhaps I should run with that one? Except that the direction I want to go now is seeking/exploring (the) common ground.....

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