Strangely I’ve had a couple of recently written articles released into the wild within a few days of each other. One was written for ‘Made in the UK’, a book sponsored by the BBC about the impact of spreading its production and broadcast facilities more evenly across the UK. My contribution – sandwiched between those of the Director of Vision, Jana Bennett, and David Attenborough – looked at the underlying theory as to how, and why, regions succeed. It’s an area which I’ve done some research and writing about, and some work on, over the last decade. The BBC book enabled me to develop my thinking – which is that successful regions manage create a dynamic in which the local economy interacts with local social betworks and a sense of place – and that public investment is essential to the process.
I’ve written here before about the future of the organisation and also about ways of thinking about long-term futures. These two themes have been brought together for me by some of the discussion about the collapse of General Motors, and also a fine short essay by Kim Stanley Robinson in which he describes capitalism as a “multi-generational Ponzi scheme”. The pressing question, it seems to me, is how to design organisations so they value the long-term future and their long-term past, as a route away from short-term and unsustainable behaviour. The notes here are based on a contribution I was asked to make on the future of the workplace to a meeting organised by the RIBA’s Building Futures programme.
It is the first officially-designated World Oceans Day on Monday, and to mark the occasion there are – for one day only – screenings across the UK of the documentary The End of the Line, based on Charles Clover’s book. Book and film both tell the story of how over-fishing is reducing, inexorably, the ocean’s fish stocks – the news release for the film says that if we don’t change our consumption patterns we won’t be eating ocean-caught fish by 2048.