Vintage Marg Barry – Forward to the Future – Spring 1995

24 November 2015 | Posted In: #127 Summer 2015/16, Community Development, Community Sector, From the Vault, Inner Sydney Voice – ISRCSD, Planning for People and Social Issues, | Author: Inner Voice | Author: Marg Barry

In 1995 Marg Barry gazed into the next 20 years of Regional Council based on her first 20 years. Her focus on community development, keeping community in community services, communities being in control all fit nicely with the theme of this ISV. Her perspective of fashionable policies coming and going and opposing the excesses of the “powers that be” also provides a long term perspective to the issues of today.

ISV_20yrs_ISRC_MBForward to the Future

As the Co-ordinator and longest serving staff member, it falls to me to wrap up this very special edition of ‘Inner Voice’. And I’ve been asked to do a bit of crystal-ball gazing into the next twenty years, drawing on my experiences and knowledge of the past twenty.

There will always be a place for an organisation like Regional Council! Someone to oppose the excesses of the “powers that be”. Someone to keep the community in community services. Someone who really understands that community development is about communities being in control and adequately resourced to solve their own problems. Someone who really puts people first!

I have often described Regional Council as heading in the one straight direction, while fashionable policies and practices come and go, at times crossing our path and bringing rewards as we are again seen as being in step, at other times being so far off the plot that we are seen as either mad or dangerous. We have kept the faith! Our biggest challenge in the next 20 years will be to continue to keep the faith, while all the crazy new schemes come and go. What form they will take, we can only imagine, but they will be identifiable by their top down control, constant restructures, unworkable assumptions and bureaucratic self-interest.

Everything runs in cycles, and patterns repeat themselves. Philippa emphasised that in her Foreword, and this special Anniversary edition of Inner Voice confirms it. We’ve entered the post-industrial age / information technology. If the long-range forecasters are right, it will take about 50 years to crank up to the next age. Hopefully, it will be the age of co-operation / collaboration where small is beautiful.

For this region the next five years will be even more difficult as we run up to the Year 2000 and the Sydney Olympics – a two-weeks’ round of circuses and cake. For many, Marie Antoinette’s “Let them eat cake” will hold true (but then look what happened to Marie Antoinette).

“Man is not an island”, but the present economic rationalist ideology, with its cult of the individual pits person against person, group against group – it is the antithesis of co-operation and collaboration.

The old Papuan saying: If you plant for one year – plant rice; If you plant for ten years – plant trees; If you plant for one hundred years – plant people!

Marg Barry

Vault readers might enjoy the full Spring 1995 issue about the first 20 years of ISRC. It is on the PDF Editions section of the ISV website – Inner Voice 73 – Spring 1995 – Celebrating 20 years. We also hope it generates stories and reflections we can use for our 40th anniversary!