Why we need imagination in the face of ethical inaction

When Greta Thurnberg addressed members of Parliament a couple of weeks ago, she didn’t mince her words. ‘You don’t listen to the science because you are only interested in the answers that will allow you to carry on as if nothing has happened,’ she told them. It’s easy to see how that conclusion could be […]

Hindsight, hubris and hope

Twenty years ago today the first issue of New Start magazine was published, with a mission described as ‘bringing together the partners in community renewal’. I and two colleagues set it up and recruited a team of writers, advertising and production staff to fill what we saw as both an evidence and a commercial gap: […]

In praise of planners

On Monday I gave evidence to MPs on the future of high streets and town centres. To my left was a portrait of a rather wild-looking Margaret Thatcher.  It was somehow appropriate that her ghost should grimace over the discussions. What the grocer’s daughter would make of a world where groceries are shipped from vast […]

Plants, cyborgs, and the future of nature

Does nature have a future? If so, what kind of future will it be and how will humans shape it? These huge questions dominated proceedings at a conference to mark 50 years of the Department of Landscape at the University of Sheffield. Drawing together renowned speakers from around the world, the agenda was ostensibly the […]

Why diggers are better than levellers

God, so the saying goes, helps those who helps themselves. If you’re not of a godly persuasion, you might say you make your own luck. Action brings its own rewards. These are truisms that have filtered their way into philosophy and social policy, but it’s worth stepping back and doing a bit of de-filtering. I […]