However smart we get, it is impossible to absolutely tell what the future will bring. And no, I’m NOT talking about a border poll, but the future of Belfast in just seven years time. But we can be sure of several things. One of them is that Stormont cannot turn the tide of austerity sweeping through civil society.
The other is that the city’s infrastructure cannot in the foreseeable future count on large amounts of capital investment. Today’s digital lunch (and you are welcome to join us) will debate the four basic elements from Artemis’s seminar in the Long Room at Stormont in November:
Releasing latent social capital includes getting the communities around schools open up their talent base and the co-learning Coderdojo groups that are springing up in venues like the Belfast Metropolitan College.
Collaboration is a growing issue for all non state actors, particularly those dependent upon public funding streams. In particular it may mean the collapsing of previously ‘ringfenced’ budgets, and giving up control. In a city which is notorious resource hungry and socially fractured that may be a tall ask.
Releasing assets which to some extent we began to over in the community assets transfer. This could of course include the release of assests (the old Carnegie Library in Old Park for instance) from the state to communities. But there may be non state actors like the Churches and businesses whose underused assets might assume new community focused purposes.
And we’ll be looking for just plain and simple practical ideas for going forward, both from the panel and from the wider readership on. Though first I’d like to take your views on the degree to which the violence of the last months has affected the capacity of different communities to work together in a time of austerity…
We start at 1pm and you can join us via Google Plus
Mick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media and is a regular guest and speaking events across Ireland, the UK and Europe. Twitter: @MickFealty