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Existing models and practices of community and economic development are failing to meet the real needs of the community, and the most vulnerable citizens are not being adequately supported. These common and acceted models and processes of community development - based as they are on the provision of infrastructure systems and incentives to attract commercial and residential development are no longer viable. They are of a time when full employment, cheap oil and credit were the norm. Times have changed. Widespread unemployment and urban drift are the new norm for small towns such as Whakatane which increasingly struggle to attract investment. In the place of these outdated models, we need a new strategy that is based not on the top-down development practices of the past, but on a grassroots, bottom-up process of community engagement and participation - a collaborative approach that draws on the skills and knowledge that lies dormant in our communities. Nobody is going to come and save us. We have to create our own healthy, sustainable communities. This, then, is the philosophy behind the drive for a develoment process that has at its centre a clear notion of community health and well-being. The practical conclusions of this analysis can be found in another document - The Whakatane Community Hub that can be downloaded by clicking here.
Th discussed here lays out a draft critical analysis of the current policies and practices of Community and Economic Development in the small town of Whakatane in the Eastern Bay of Plenty, New Zealand. It is written in five parts - and is intended as a series publication over time in the local newspaper, the Whakatane Beacon. In its draft form it is somewhat academic in style - this is intentionally done as a way of underpinning the theoretical basis of the critique with some background references. The final version will be more "readable". There are five threads to the argument.
- The first is social. We live in one of the most beautiful places on the planet, but for many it is an economic hell, with high unemployment, high youth suicides, high family violence and poor academic achievement.
- The second thread is demographic. Birth rates are declining and being outpaced by deaths and migration. We are in a state of chronic population decline
- The migration is to the cities (Auckland chiefly) or Australia where there is plenty of work and much better wages.
- The third thread is global economics. Software and robotic developments are outpacing job creation, leading to a state of global dis-employment and a probably permanent recession
- The fourth is about outdated policies of economic development that are still tied to an outdated and now unrealistic belief industrial growth and job creation.
- The fifth is about education and the development of a creative and entrepreneurial culture - a new model of community and economic development more suited to these emerging conditions.
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