A Different Democratic Future
Using what people told us during the first phase of Democracy Matters conversations as a guide, we have described how power and resources could be shared with communities. We have used three fictional communities to explain how this could work in very different places.
We hope that you can see some of where you live in at least one of these fictional communities. Please consider the possible future scenario below, and explore whether and how this type of democratic future would make a difference in your own community.
Christietown is a small town in the west of Scotland. It was once prosperous but has suffered from industrial decline. Locals describe a vibrant past with many skilled workers but worry about how to respond to current economic and social challenges. A new state-of-the-art sports centre has recently opened, and council initiatives such as apprenticeship schemes and digital skills are building people’s confidence. However, people report wanting a different approach to tackling inequalities in the town and to be more involved in helping it to thrive once again. This process has already been kick-started by the local community-based housing association and a new development trust which has taken over control of the local community centre.
Fernshill is a neighbourhood in a city. It has a strong identity and it was once a separate village. With its own main shopping street it used to have a cinema and theatre. It still has a library and schools which serve an increasingly diverse population. Recently there has been a surge in community groups being set up, partly due to a successful Participatory Budgeting process taking place. There is a group which is looking to improve the local park and groups supporting young people, older people, refugees and disabled people. A major multinational firm is currently renovating an old factory in the neighbourhood to establish a service centre, bringing the promise of welcome, well-paid jobs which will benefit the whole city.
The Haven is an area in rural Scotland. Nobody knows where the name came from, but everybody knows the area by that name. It is a mix of agricultural land and high moorland. There is one main village in the Haven and several smaller villages and hamlets. Fewer people work on the local farms, shops and hotels now and there is pressure on housing for young people. But there has been a growth in self-employment start-ups and outdoor-related tourism. The population in the Haven is ageing as it is a struggle to keep young people in the area after college and university. The area receives community benefit money from a nearby wind farm and the local Community Council sometimes is unsure how to give the money out to the community in a way that they feel will make the most positive difference.
Recently, people took part in democratic exercises in Christietown, Fernshill and The Haven which resulted in the biggest power shift in a generation or more. New decision-making bodies now meet regularly in each place to discuss progress on improving where they live for everybody. What follows describes how each place is choosing to use their new rights.