Inclusive Growth: A History Lesson?

David Reid, Paradigm Futures Ltd

We have so much to learn from history and it is interesting in how many ways things have gone ‘full circle’. A great example is the advent of the national supermarkets many of whom now have a range of express or local shops – effectively a return to the corner shops that many of us grew up with supplying the essentials on our doorsteps.

I have been looking at the creation of sustainable communities and how they may be developed to deliver inclusive growth. If we look at history, before cars were available and affordable to most in the community, we had inclusive and sustainable communities. People lived locally, worked locally, and played locally. Cycling to work was for the masses, lots of locals went straight to apprenticeships, people followed the local football team, and spent their money in the local town centres, pubs and …. well more pubs.

I am not getting dewy eyed with nostalgia – there were many issues back in the day – but there wasn’t such a great divide between the haves and the have nots. Re-creating sustainable communities in the modern day will have to aim again at the interplay between work, rest, and play to create mutually supportive ecosystems where opportunities for all are both available and accessible. Quality jobs aligned to a well-trained workforce, most of whom staying locally based on great connectivity and intentionally attractive amenities with a mix of housing suitable to all incomes and background – mmmmm that could a model. However, it will only prosper if each of the work, rest, and play elements are considered collectively and not individually to create a mutually supportive construct.

It is not the only way, but sustainable communities combining most of what we need as a society can provide the foundation for inclusive growth – but without flat caps!