Call and Response

The principle by which localities can call on their local authorities for assistance to develop projects, without themselves losing the initiative: a variant of the principle of pull.

A well-established example comes from Portland, Oregon, now widely recognised for its neighbourhood associations and the extent of their initiative-taking in decisions affecting the city: local government responds to citizens’ requests for action, providing an incentive for participation to deepen over several decades. It did not come easily: the discussions that led to it were often acrimonious, and maintaining the dialogue is recognised as the specific responsibility of the citizens, who have to “educate” new officials (with the help, if need be, of introducing them to committed residents in the shape of a room full of “100 people screaming mad”). But “call and response” is close to the centre of lean thinking, as Lean Logic uses the concept: it has flow, pull and feedback; it has the focused intention and lean means of local people with the confidence to know what they want and to believe that there is a chance they may be able to accomplish it.C3

So it is not that the government has no role here; rather, it rediscovers its role as public servant, working for people that have recovered their confidence. An initiative within this framework has been launched in the United Kingdom with the Sustainable Communities Act (2007). This has been organised at a higher level than the Portland scheme—it is about local authorities calling on assistance from central government rather than local communities calling on local authorities—but the principle is there, and it may well extend downwards. A less formal approach, which is likely to have a better chance of recovering local presence, is the Transition movement.C4


Related entries:

TEQs (Tradable Energy Quotas).

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David Fleming
Dr David Fleming (2 January 1940 – 29 November 2010) was a cultural historian and economist, based in London, England. He was among the first to reveal the possibility of peak oil's approach and invented the influential TEQs scheme, designed to address this and climate change. He was also a pioneer of post-growth economics, and a significant figure in the development of the UK Green Party, the Transition Towns movement and the New Economics Foundation, as well as a Chairman of the Soil Association. His wide-ranging independent analysis culminated in two critically acclaimed books, 'Lean Logic' and 'Surviving the Future', published posthumously in 2016. These in turn inspired the 2020 launches of both BAFTA-winning director Peter Armstrong's feature film about Fleming's perspective and legacy - 'The Sequel: What Will Follow Our Troubled Civilisation?' - and Sterling College's unique 'Surviving the Future: Conversations for Our Time' online courses. For more information on all of the above, including Lean Logic, click the little globe below!

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