Twelve short essays of hope for 2015

hopestreetimage12014 has been a year that many would rather forget. A year which will be defined by the rise of foodbanks, by ‘social cleansing’ and increased cruelty towards those in poverty, and by councils reaching breaking point under the strain of cuts and extra demand.

And the pain is far from over. As Toby Blume sets out in his essay below, 2015 is the year when the cuts we have been talking about since 2010 will really kick in. It is also likely to be the year when the economy goes back into reverse, impacting most heavily those in most need. As Neil McInroy points out, ‘many have never had it so bad’.

The general election should be a time to take stock and focus on a better future. The Scottish independence campaign reminded us what vibrant local democracy looks like, and Julian Dobson in his essay offers a five-point manifesto for imaginative politicians. The localism agenda is planting seeds of change in areas that have been held back by centralised policies. And digital technologies are breaking down processes and structures that limited innovation and imagination.

So amid the gloom there are signs of hope and in the 12 essays that follow our writers set out their fears – and their wishes – for the coming year. Radical economic agendas being rolled out in our cities, a network of local banks, greater creativity with available resources, and truly collaborative leaders. A universal basic income, land tax valuation, and planning that is linked to social equity. Anchor institutions that are embedded in and working for their local communities. And – perhaps most importantly – public services that are human and compassionate.

The ideas set out in these essays are not pie-in-the-sky plans but are in the most part proven and happening in a place near you. They show that an alternative is possible and that change can happen even in the unlikeliest places. It is these glimmers of hope we need to cling to, work towards and promote in 2015. As Julian Corner says in our final essay, ‘wherever we find the germs of change, we have to give them all the help we possibly can to become contagious’.

1. Toby Blume: 2015 is the year the cuts will really kick in

2. Neil McInroy: Many have never had it so bad

3. John Tizard: This new year needs to be a turning point

4. Henry Kippin and Sarah Billiald: A Christmas list for collaborators

5. David Boyle: Where will localism lead us in 2015?

6. Julian Dobson: A manifesto for imaginative politicians.

7. Keren Suchecki: My main worry for 2o15? The NHS

8. Annemarie Naylor: Can we create a digital commons in 2o15?

9. John Houghton: The word that most symbolises 2014: Foodbank

10. Kate Henderson: Planning needs to rediscover its roots

11. Noel Hatch: What if Christmas was invented in 2014?

12. Julian Corner: Hope is contagious


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