John O’Brien & David Towell
Conversations about building sustainable & inclusive communities: An invitation
We live in challenging times. On the largest canvass, writing in early 2010, it is not at all clear that we have yet come to terms with the real implications of the global economic collapse or started to take seriously the radical changes required to deal with climate change. Adaptive responses to the complexity of these and other challenges as they are experienced locally require both increasing devolution of autonomy and responsibility and the fuller mobilisation of citizens and communities. This mobilization needs to reflect the strengths of citizens organising as well as public sector efforts to achieve community engagement.
One of the challenges in which we have a strong interest is that of how the perhaps 10% of us who are disabled or meeting the problems common in later life as well as the much larger number of people for whom this is part of family life can get the opportunities and support to achieve equal citizenship and live their lives as they want. Disabled and older people and their families of course also face the same challenges as other local people and certainly can bring their ideas and skills to help find promising ways forward.
We believe that efforts to promote the inclusion of disabled people can positively influence the work of building sustainable communities that are resilient in the face of profound challenges. These challenges include the call to respond to global issues like climate change and the economic crisis, national issues like shaping a sustainable economy and meeting the rising demand for more effective public services under conditions of restrained growth in public expenditure, and local issues like the transformation to personalization in social care.