For a long time now I have been raising the question as to why there are so many Business programmes on TV and radio, indeed daily slots on many channels, and hardly anything about community activities. It’s all part of a culture which celebrates money-making and gives far too little prominence to those people and organisations which put the wellbeing of their fellow human beings at the forefront of their agenda. Of course, this has changed during the Coronavirus crisis; not only has there been an increased focus on mutual activity to reach out to those most affected by the current situation, but we have seen a a welcome change of emphasis so that we are at last seeing an increased recognition of the people who toil to make our society function with low levels of remuneration. It’s ironic, nevertheless, that one of the most prominent campaigns, the fight to get the Government to fund free school meals during the summer holidays, has been spearheaded by Marcus Rashford, a highly-paid Premiership footballer, albeit one who drew on his own background in receipt of free school meals to frame the message. It demonstrates, however, that the megaphone of public voice resides largely in the same corridors of wealth and power.
Having spent most of my life working in some form to encourage people to be more community-spirited, I have been much encouraged by the recent upsurge in attention on such activities. This has coincided with the publication of a seminal book “Humankind” by Rutger Bregman. Bregman argues that the prevailing story of most of our society, that people are fundamentally bad and need leaders and laws to keep them in check, is wrong, and that evidence shows that most people are actually good, and their first instinct is actually to be kind, collaborative and helpful to each other. The “people are bad” story is one designed by the rich and powerful to justify their position in society and legitimise the need for coercive laws and control. I would argue that the predominance of business- focus in our media is a key part of this agenda, celebrating money-making over the health and well-being of the majority of society. And now, before you jump in and say that society needs money-making for a successful economy, or that most people are involved in some kind of business activity, I’ll counter that the business programmes served up by our TV and radio tend to be focused on multi-billion dollar corporations whose principal aim is to syphon resources into the bank accounts of their shareholders rather than the entrepreneurial activities which keep most of our communities ticking over. And they are part of the representation of the hero entrepreneur whose role is to save society by generating bundles of cash.
So, I’ve decided that the time has come to stop moaning about this imbalance and do something about it. A few weeks ago I started the Doctor Tech Show, a weekly live-streamed YouTube show about how people are using technology to communicate in times when they cannot see each other face-to-face. That show aims to showcase gadgets and gizmos developed to make online communication easier for people with low levels of digital skills, and to amplify stories about how people overcome the barriers to getting online and communicating.
I now want to take this approach and apply it to community-based activity. So, shortly I will be launching Community Hour and I am now appealing for content. Community Hour will be an hour-long show live-streamed on YouTube (and possibly elsewhere) showcasing what people and organisations are doing to improve the lives of their communities. It will include interviews with people involved and video content illustrating projects. If you would like to be interviewed and / or have video content to share, please get in touch. I want this to be the start of a movement to place coverage of community activism on the same level as business, and, eventually, to act as a model for community slots on mainstream TV and radio.
I was diagnosed with cancer in February 2020 see here
There are a small amount of lovely people who have been providing me with some financial assistance to help me get through this situation, which is obviously made worse by the current pandemic. I won’t say who they are because I am not sure they want me to publicise it; but I am extremely grateful.
Thanks for reading. I hope to see you all again when this is all over.