Changing Community with a Cause – Conversations in Society


Big CityBig cities, big societies, big corporations, big business and an awareness about the importance and growth of smaller country environments, companies and communities, are all important and integral to a vision for the future in Australia, as indeed it is for so many countries globally.

Today social capital is considered ‘the currency of our society’ and connected communities sustain and empower us all. Shaping our commitment to social responsibility must be integral to any formative process or vision – a priority.

Matthew Taylor, CEO RSA at London

Matthew Taylor, CEO RSA at London

As Matthew Taylor CEO of the RSA London recently said in an article, it is ‘citizens, not algorithms that must shape our progress’ and the ‘… ultimate case for change must be that it improves the lives of all people everywhere.

You can belong to the RSA Globally, they are also in America and Australia and New Zealand in our region. They have a tried and true system whereby you can engage with a fellowship of some 28,000 people, all of whom believe in the power of creative ideas to change the world in an environment where everyone everywhere can be involved.

We all have a responsibility to help bring people together not drive them apart; inclusion, equality, fairness for all just cannot be words bandied about without conviction.

Group-Business-PeopleAction is required if they are to be meaningful and ongoing, as we create platforms on which the community we live in can engage and articulate its ideas through conversation and debate and form relationships that last.

While we may enjoy ‘six degrees of separation’ we really only have ‘three degrees of influence’ is a rule of thumb, rather than a social fact’.[1]

A tete a tete or conversation can be verbal from one person to another…expressing opinions, ideas and our feelings about everyday matters.

How do we in this so-called age of communication relate to those around us… are we listening… reacting… contributing… connecting and conversing with those in our circle?

Naomi Milgrom of the Naomi Milgrom Foundation photo Steven Chee

Naomi Milgrom of the Naomi Milgrom Foundation photo Steven Chee

Bringing people together in an enjoyable way is one way of helping and indeed the Naomi Milgrom Foundation is leading the way in Melbourne, Victoria in that regard.

This summer their commissioned architectural MPavilion located in the heart of the city offers a program of FREE to attend public events, which include conversations with people who have expertise in planning and developing urban environments that are not only beautiful but sustainable.

Read their Program of Events Here - Be Involved.

Interior of MPavilion 2017, photo by John Gollings

Interior of MPavilion 2017, photo by John Gollings

Architects in particular are looking to engage with the community of the city of Melbourne, which is rich in a diverse heritage and cultural identity. They are seeking to find out what they are thinking about life in the age of so-called 21st century enlightenment and how they see it continuing to evolve. How else can they plan the buildings we must live and work in as the planet expands its population.

The old democracies of western Europe which formed such a large part of our historical heritage while going three steps forward and one back since the original ‘enlightening’ age, have achieved a great deal despite having been engaged into very destructive World Wars.

Many of the creative ideas that work and are embedded in their cultural development can be revisited and reinvigorated.


In Australia we need to help by expanding an understanding and respect for our own cultural diversity, providing opportunities for cultural engagement for everyone in our community and in our cities.

Revealing creative ideas about the progression of community and culture and sharing them has been proven to provide a benefit to all.

Our notion of community has grown up around ideas about belonging and harmonious relationships. They can also become places of conflict and division if we do not value, safeguard or continue to inform each other or our health, education and law and order policies, so vital to our sense of security and wellbeing.

Creative ideas change the world and everyone is capable of joining in and contributing to the society in which we live. We all need to be able to raise the gaze of those in pain, or in trouble and urgent need, so they too can be inspired to become well, to achieve good mental health so they can lead useful and satisfying lives.

Group of People Pedestrian Rush Hour ConceptHow we behave in community matters; it is about establishing our own values, changing the way we look at diversity and learning to discover how to harness and leverage our differences for the benefit of all.

We should ask ourselves what is our role in community life the more we attain our goals in corporate life. How do we balance profit with philanthropy and explain it for instance to company shareholders.

There is so much more to wealth than money and we need to share it around. Most people fear change…yet it is one thing that is sure, constant and inevitable.

RSA London Banner

We all need to develop and expand our skills and attitudes toward change and to learn how to deal with it on a daily basis.

I was struck by this phrase recently in a paper I was reading brought to my attention by a newsletter from the RSA.

Government-House-Canberra‘One of the optical illusions of government is that those inside of it think of themselves as drivers of change.

Yet most far-reaching ideas and changes come from outside.

Most radical change has to start outside government, usually from the bottom (up) rather than the top (down)…

… new ideas need time to evolve, preferably away from the spotlight. Governments are more often vehicles than initiators.

They play a pivotal role in embedding those changes, but typically they get involved only at a late stage.’ [2]

There have always been rules and conventions governing correct or polite behaviour in society in general or, in a particular social or professional group or situation.

However in more recent years the loss of knowledge about and why such conventions existed have now been more or less lost, as has a very real ‘sense of occasion’ for many.

People ProgressingA vibrant, creative community is formed when people collaborate, ideas are born, and people from all ethnic and cultural backgrounds are welcome to contribute to the richness of community life is what we require.

We need to re-establish what is acceptable and appropriate behaviour in society and to re-discover the importance of safeguarding and retaining some traditions as important and valuable to the success of our lives as we progress forward; articulating modern manners in particular matter.

SocietyThe key to success for community learning is participation without fear of failure. We all need to work like we don’t need the money, love like we have never been hurt, dance like nobody’s watching and to sing as if no one can hear.

If we do and we can hold fast to what we know in our heart and believe in, then it will surely give us the courage of our convictions and the impetus and persistence to assist our society as it proceeds ever forward.  Well that’s part of the theory anyway, but sadly theory and practice often seem poles apart.

Carolyn McDowall, The Culture Concept Circle, 2017

Brainy Man[1] Milgram S, The Small World Problem, Psychology Today, 1967, Vol. 2, p60-67. Some have suggested that Hungarian writer Frigyes Karinthy was the original proponent of ‘six degrees’. He outlined the idea in a short story called ‘Chains’ published in a collection titled Everything is Different in 1929. Watts D, Dodds P and Newman M, Identity and Search in Social Networks, Science, 2002, Vol. 296; Dodds P, Muhamad R, Watts D, An Experimental Study of Search in Global Social Networks, Science, 2003, Vol. 301

[2] Mulgan G, Good and Bad Power: The Ideals and Betrayals of Government, 2007, Allen Lane

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