The legacy of Alderman Graves, and lessons for regeneration

A couple of weeks ago I was asked to give a lecture at Sheffield University’s Interdisciplinary Centre of the Social Sciences. The talk focused on people-centred approaches to regeneration, and how they could be encouraged in today’s policy context.

The full text of the talk and the accompanying slides are here. I also wrote a piece for The Guardian, citing the legacy of John Graves in Sheffield as an example of civic value. I said:

We need these people-centred approaches because the alternative is to hang our hopes on the mutually reinforcing untruths that economic growth will solve problems of poverty, and that the harder we make life for people who are out of work, the sooner they will get a job. Neither will work because neither the resources of the planet nor the resources of the poor are infinite: sooner or later something is going to give.

To regenerate our poorest communities in tough times we need leadership that echoes the vision and values of Alderman Graves in creating shared value, rather than the race to the bottom of George Osborne and those who echo him across the political spectrum.

As Raymond Williams put it, ‘To be truly radical is to make hope possible, rather than despair convincing’. Sheffield – and the wider UK, and other countries in need of revitalisation – need such radicals.

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