The continuity between past and present is always an interesting start point but one that merits particular support given the history of Beeston. That said – the challenges and opportunities we face globally, nationally, regionally, a City and as a town are potentially disruptive - enough to think we face a radical ‘end of history’ turning point as we peer into the future 20 or 30 years. I say this to open our eyes to possibilities that others may suggest ideas that do not resemble our current reality of ‘2020’.
Having lived in Beeston for 20 years there must be a reason I like it – it ‘works’ as a community without posing challenging ‘overheads’ to individuals – the heart to this has to be the people wanting to make it work. They are attracted to Beeston as a ‘destination town’ to live and work and enjoy a community ‘social feel’ that is modern but with a strong heritage. You can live and engage in a way that feels good for you – it is safe, comfortable – allowing for individuality at the same time as enabling a community spirit that suits varying degrees of engagement and involvement.
What of the future that the above comments have shaped in terms of some thinking? One can only be selective of sensemaking a possible future context. I would argue for the merit a of collective sense making process to guide informed future action. There are three areas in particular that come to my mind in chipping some thoughts into the debate.
First, the future importance of various sustainability based community initiatives. In the next ten years – these will dominate our attention. What this possibly means offers the opportunity to be distinctive – aligning to City and national priorities – but also an opportunity to lead with new ideas. Let’s lead – perhaps this dominates our next 20 year vision!!
Second, Beeston competes as a destination location in the City. We need to attract families – young and old to live, offer employment and job opportunities within the local area – be a modern social hub. There needs to be a local economic development thread to our future vision. Our Town Centre is under pressure as a retail and social space. We share this problem with many parts of the UK – we need to come up with innovative solutions to these problems. Of course, we anticipate the situation will deteriorate over the next decade – so this requires being nimble, ahead of the trend – attracting the right kind of businesses and social enterprises into the Town. We must incentivise this possibility - we are in a competition.
Community engagement is a third theme. Involvement and participation is likely to be critical to attracting people to Beeston and retaining their presence in creating our future. Our diverse population is real strength here because it is likely to attract a variable and flexible response to initiatives and action programmes – engagement will generate ownership and momentum to build on developments and initiatives. Many Beeston ‘townsfolk’ value that they live in a culturally diverse community – that is why many stay for so long I suspect. Let’s take advantage of this reality.
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