Down Under

Down Under

Dave Andrews, Mosaic

Dave Andrews suggests that community is “a particular context in which we feel at home”. He ventures into a thorough analysis of the meaning and value of “belonging”, at a time when this feeling of being connected is threatened and all too frequently broken.

The increase in city dwelling, the era of the depersonalised shopping mall (where there are no seats apart from in the coffee shops for people to sit down and casually talk) and the large regional model of the church diminish contact with one another and the local community.

He proposes that people naturally prefer the small group and the modern trend is to link up with “a vast array of connections” through cyberspace. This movement “Microsoft mediated, Google enabled, Prodigy censored” is no adequate substitute for face to face interaction.

This isolation means we have not been aware of the needs of the most disadvantaged in the wider community. We seem to have transferred personal responsibility for the most disadvantaged and alienated to major institutions, government bodies and non-government organisations. There has developed a whole system of community development with a range of structures and linkages to the bureaucracy, all looking for solutions to meet social needs.

Having worked in this sector, Dave Andrews shares his understanding of how the disadvantaged may become involved in experimenting and working out solutions. He is aware that “professionalism” of the industry is a threat to the vocational call, which he sees necessary to achieve social justice, equity and opportunity for all. The professionals working in top-down organisations are a far cry from the “amateur, radical, rebels” intent on helping people work out their own solutions. For the latter he sets out in great detail the dos and don’ts of surviving in an atmosphere of tension while still maintaining one’s integrity and position. The many examples of the work of his wife at the conclusion of the book are most interesting and varied.

John Atkinson

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