Wednesday, September 14, 2011

What's Next for London?

Traveling throughout the UK this summer has been a real eye opener. From the Canals of the Midlands to the Eden Project in Cornwall and most recently, to the woodlands of the Loch's in Scotland; we have experienced so much that is really wonderful and beautiful about the United Kingdom. Having said that; united is not a word that I would use to describe this place. Tribal is a word that comes to mind most often and it also explains the solutions that have been used to resolve economic and social issues of deprivation and hopelessness that have been the hallmarks of these areas in the past. Not so now; all of these areas have been rejuvenated through creative and positive change brought about in the communities themselves. The canals have been invested in and championed by individuals who understand that this water system offers more than just a transportation system for commercial purposes. The canals are now home to many people who have opted for a lifestyle of simplicity and fulfillment. They are not living on their boats because they feel 'hard done by'; they live on their boats because it is joyful and a shear pleasure as we discovered for ourselves. Cornwall has fostered the most amazing regeneration project that I have ever seen. The Eden project is a miracle of positive growth through transformation of a once ugly blight on the countryside. It is now an oasis, a garden of Eden that attracts people in the thousands on a daily basis. A forum to educate but also an attraction that provides a healthy and inspiring example of what community can do to generate work and provide a positive solution to the environmental crisis that we face. A true win/win proposition of ever there was one. Loch Ard in Scotland an area called the Trossachs just north of Glasgow also provides an educational and inspiring eco friendly tourist attraction. They work hard in this little area to ensure that you don't leave Scotland thinking it is just a place of mist and grey clouds. Enterprise is everywhere as is their history that is kept alive because of the individuals who live there and ensure that the stories of Rob Roy and William Wallace are as relevant today as they were hundreds of years ago. All of these places have sparked economic rejuvenation by their own enterprise. They have taken the bull by the horns – led by incredible and dedicated visionaries – and made something of their communities. The London area which has been most badly hit by the riots and looting of late could definitely benefit from it's own 'Eden Project.' The social unrest has been building for a very long time; lack of jobs, lack of opportunity, urban decay and the general malaise that occurs when people feel bereft of hope and inspiration. Entitlement has been the disease that has most deeply eroded the social fabric here. The idea that these kids felt 'entitled' to expensive trainers, flat screen tv's and computers are more alarming than the fact that they did what they did. The government can no longer afford this social experiment; and it is about time too. It has turned whole generations of people into welfare queens and kings who see the government as the answer to their problems. The truth is that in any society the solutions are not going to come from the government; they are part of the problem. The solutions will need to come from the community and from a vision for the community that can transcend the current state of moral, emotional and financial decay. Maybe London can be transformed and become the next Eden Project?