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Prime Minister David Cameron's Big Society Agenda

Al Etmanski is an author, advocate and social entrepreneur specializing in innovative solutions to social challenges. He is President and co-founder of Planned Lifetime Advocacy Network (PLAN), assisting families across Canada. PLAN Institute is co-editor of the Appartenance-Belonging website.

Now that David Cameron is the new Prime Minister of Britain, it is worth taking a look at his views on civil society. Cameron campaigned on a Big Society agenda. He spoke about the need to restore the balance among civic sector (Big Society), public sector (the Big State) and private sector (Big Business). Some of his ideas include citizen engagement, community ownership, self-help and public services coops. In principle, Cameron wants to do revitalize volunteerism, democratic participation, local networks, social cooperation and citizen involvement. His policies reject top down, government defined definitions of the problem. He wants to change the role of government so it supports not supplants civil society. He talks about making the so called Third sector the First sector.

Social resilience: 5 types of action

Jacques Dufresne is chief-editor of Appartenance-Belonging. Long time columnist for La Presse and Le Devoir, he is editor of L'Encyclopédie de L'Agora online.

We are persuaded that despite the modern trend to reduce community life to governance or market values, there remains in our society a solid and healthy core of vital and indestructible social values and virtues that are at the heart of community. They are also at the heart of what trust relationship there remains with respect to governments and business, and provide both with their sometimes fragile sense of legitimacy. We see them emerge vibrant and intact in times of crisis, when neighbours emerge from their social cocoons to engage, cooperate and assist each other. Looking at these universal values more closely can help us rethink community and citizenship in ways that will let the natural resilience of communities repair the living tissues of our communities.[...]  Five types of social actions flow from this natural model for social action: Liberating actions,  Inhibiting actions,  Catalytic actions,  Inspiring actions, Nurturing actions.

Haiti or the risk of not belonging

Jonathan Boulet-Groulx is a self-taught student of humanity, a reporter of joy, a wandering photographer, a writer about things human, an artist who captures human fragility. His blog, Mwen pa fou, dedicated to the cause of intellectual disabilities in Haiti, has become a touchstone for those who wish to follow the inside story of Haitian life since January 12th

It is said that Haitians are a proud people – but proud of what? Make no mistake here: They are certainly proud, and with good reason, of their rich culture, of their history, marked by the genius of the revolution, of their collective memory - but of the country that exists now they seem rather to be ashamed: Three out of four would like to escape from this poverty which seems to have no end in sight. What is belonging without pride?

Supporting Life in the Urban Context: The Grounded Wisdom of Jane Jacobs

Beth Porter works for L’Arche Canada in the area of Educational Initiatives and Publications. She has a particular interest in the dynamics that make for a compassionate and inclusive Canadian society.

What are physical characteristics of hospitable neighbourhoods? The houses often have front porches where people can sit out and exchange a wave or greeting with their neighbours—rather than the protruding garages of suburbia that may give the much vaunted privacy developers advertise but isolate people from those who live next door. They have sidewalks, bike paths and good public transit so that people can move about in ways that allow meeting and mingling, rather than having to travel in the isolation of automobiles.





Japan revives kemari, a sport with no winners or losers

Japan has a way of combining conservation of the distant past with innovation at the cutting edge of technology. Thus it continues to cultivate the art of calligraphy in the age of the keyboard. In the field of recreation, it has been able to revive kemari, a sport that has no winners or losers.




An open letter to Ted Kuntz, author of a Peace Begins with Me

Hélène Laberge is co-founder of L'Agora recherche et communications inc.

"Your book is entirely inspired by your unique journey toward joy and peace, carved out along the route of suffering. As a therapist, you have yourself practiced the methods you prescribe. As a human being, you share with us the thoughts that sustained you along this difficult path. With you, we encounter the long line of human beings – known and unknown, of all races – who have experienced suffering in its various guises, and who inspired you. From them come the apt quotations that underpin your thinking."


The longer we journey on the road to inner healing and wholeness, the more the sense of belonging grows and deepens. The sense is not just one of belonging to others and to a community. It is a sense of belonging to the universe, to the earth, to the air, to the water, to everything that lives, to all humanity. [Jean Vanier]




Water is the ultimate commons

Water is life, by Barbara KingsolverWater is the ultimate commons. Watercourses once seemed as boundless as those pigeons that darkened the sky overhead, and the notion of protecting water was...

The Lonely World of Modern Architecture

Read in Utne Reader, 01/27/2010«The architecture magazine Dwell always strives for aesthetic heights with its often dour and stark photographs of beautiful, expensive homes. The blog...



Loneliness affects one in ten people in France

ONE in ten people in France lives in solitude and a quarter have only the most basic links to family or friends, a new report has revealed. The issue of solitude came up in 2003 after the...

Preventing Home Foreclosures - a Promising Innovation in Philadelphia

Between June 2008 and May 2009, of the 4,690 homeowners who were able to negotiate with their banks through this program, 2,776 succeeded in holding on to their homes.



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