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A note from Nick
Building Blocks of Better: Natural Authority
Hello and a big spring time welcome to the April LACN Newsletter.
I hope you’re well and that the sun is shining where you are as you read this?
The sun coming out and the slight easing of lockdown restrictions this month has given increased opportunity for Local Area Coordinators to get alongside even more people in their gardens, local parks and spaces etc. Whilst we’re still a way off from getting all of our much-needed community infrastructure open again, it certainly feels like a positive step in a right direction.
As conversations start to unfold, naturally many people are exploring and reflecting on how this last year has affected their lives and what they would like them to look like in the future. Local Area Coordinators take a person’s vision of a good life as the starting point for a shared agreement for how they might work together to support that vision to come to life. Recognising the principle of natural authority with that person or family being in the driving seat is a fundamental part of the philosophy that underpins that way of working. In Local Area Coordination we say “people and their families are experts in their own lives, have knowledge about themselves and their communities and are best placed to make their own decisions.”
This month we’re reflecting on that principle of natural authority and thinking back once again to the conference we had at the end of last year where our speakers shared their reflections on the 10 principles. It was Nick Gardham, CEO of Community Organisers, who spoke on this one. Community Organisers and those involved in community organising fundamentally embrace this principle in their work supporting communities to come together, organise and take control of local challenges and opportunities.
Nick reflected in his speech that in community organising, it’s about what collective natural authority (power) looks like in a community of place offering a set of tools and approaches to help groups to both see and bring that vision to life.
“The most enlightening thing is for those people involved in organizing at the grassroots, is when they talk to not just one neighbour, but 20 neighbours. And they say, “what would happen if we all came together? What would happen if three, four, five, fifty or five hundred came together to affect change? Would we have some natural authority then? Would we be able to do something about it?” And people then start to realise themselves that their stories that they have shared genuinely means something if they came together with others to do something about it.”
In complementary contrast, Local Area Coordination starts with a conversation with an individual or a family, many of whom are on the margins of their community for whatever circumstances and who often feel that their natural authority has been lost or taken from them but are looking to take practical action in partnership to make life better. The work of a Local Area Coordinator recognises the collective natural authority and opportunity abundant (or potentially abundant) in the community that surrounds that person or family. Through supporting local connectivity, encouraging people to share their gifts and helping people to recognise their own natural authority, Local Area Coordinators can play a helpful role in building capacity for groups to organise and for community to grow in an inclusive way.
We hope you enjoy this month’s newsletter. As always if you have any ideas or comments please do get in touch.
Read the newsletter here