[Diggers350] Land Justice: By the People and for the People
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Tue Oct 5 10:40:18 BST 2021
Land Justice: By the People and for the People
A series of 3 seminars investigates the alternatives to current decision-making, including Participatory Democracy and the Commons. The first seminar taking place on Monday 25th October 2021 is about how to make decisions about land use, looking at participatory democracy, the Commons & movement building
Register to participate (if you have a computer) in this online seminar at:
Organised by Peoples' Land Policy
About this event
Land Justice: By the People and for the People
Seminar One: Participatory Democracy (PD) in Theory and PracticeSpeakers: Gabriela Sarmet from Coletivo Decolonial, Calum Green from Involve, and Andy Belfield from Public WorksThis seminar will begin with a look at the current method of decision-making: liberal democracy and then introduce the concept of participatory democracy as a contrast. There will be a focus on the theory behind participatory democracy but will use practical examples to explore how PD has been put into practice in its different versions. We will then consider the Commons as another model of direct decision-making, examining the similarities and differences with PD.
Description of the Seminar Series and next seminars
Decisions about how land is used and for whose benefit are currently made by those who own and control the land, within the context of market forces. These might be private landowners or government, subject to certain regulation by the planning system.
This system does not work for the common good, which can be seen in environmental degradation, a food system dominated by agribusiness, and the lack of quality housing that people can afford. In order for land to be used for the benefit of all then decisions have to be made by people themselves. If decisions are made largely by private interests whose aim is to make a profit, then any public benefit will be accidental. In theory, representative democracy is meant to make decisions on behalf of the public and control the profit-driven private sector, but experience has shown that at all levels of government, politicians and the planning system does not seriously challenge the domination of private interests. The rational is that somehow if private enterprise is making a healthy profit then somehow benefits will trickle down to the rest of us.
In this series of seminars, the People’s Land Policy investigates the alternatives to current decision-making, including different versions of participatory democracy and the Commons. In these models people themselves, from all levels of society, engage directly in decision-making rather than relying on representatives who rarely actually represent or civil servants and other bureaucratic structures which are unaccountable. Participatory democracy has become a key part of many social movements around the world and can serve as an inspiration for how we might do things differently. However, there are different interpretations of this idea, with some versions more independent of current power structures than others. The Commons does not just refer to the common ownership of land but as a way of making decisions about land. According to Commons Rising: “By Commons we mean people self-organising to co-produce and co-govern resources that they recognise as important for their livelihood and well-being and that of the planet.”
Seminar Two (November 8th): Participatory Democracy in the UK Speakers: Just Space, Wards Corner, Langholm Community Buy-Out, Participatory Budgeting
After briefly considering the serious inadequacies of the current planning system, this seminar will focus on the inspiring alternatives which puts people at the centre of decision-making on land use. Just Space will present their work on community-led and neighbourhood planning. Wards Corner will discuss how using the model of neighbourhood planning they have managed to fight off developers and succeed in making the voice of the community heard. The Langholm Community Initiative will provide an example of a community coming together, first to campaign to buy the land and then to manage it together.
We will go on to explore two other aspects of people-led decision-making: participatory budgeting and the actual process of getting people to make decisions together.
Seminar Three(November 22nd) : Making Participatory Democracy a Reality: Building a Movement
• Speakers: Thiago Ávila and he is one of the founders of the Movimento do Bem Viver, Shared Assets and one other.
The movement for social change is currently weak and divided. There are a plethora of organisations and campaigns but they usually focus on a particular issue and there are few forums for these to come together and make common cause. In addition, they all grapple with the problem of getting people involved and tend to rely on paid employees (often getting funding from the State), or heroic volunteers who then often get burned out. The lack of involvement of ordinary people in political struggle is an obstacle to making participatory democracy work. There is no point in recreating structures that are dominated by those with the funding, time or cultural capital.
This seminar will draw on case studies to discuss how we can address these challenges. How do we create an effective united movement while at the same time thrives on diversity and different perspectives? How do we ensure that this movement is based on participatory democracy in which a wide range of people are directly involved in?
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