At the end of one of the most challenging years for the UK, five commentators sum up the year for communities, local government, economic development, devolution and activism and offer their views on the way forward. Let there be hope by David Robinson The ‘strange death’ and re-birth of local government by Piali DasGupta Building the new mainstream by Neil McInroy and Matthew Jackson English devolution: revolution or chaos? by Arianna Giovannini Social activists should find common cause in 2017 by John Tizard