Monday, 22 December 2014

Taking Russell Brand Seriously

I recently read Russell Brand’s new book Revolution while I was also reviewing politics final essays. Set against the fresh thinking of students, Russell Brand’s book seemed less remarkable than some of his most ardent fans suggest. His writing is a bit confusing and I still wonder if people who are not very interested in politics really would bother persevering with it. 

And yet it is worth persevering with Revolution and I'd recommend it
I can hear the challenges, “As a feminist and a deep democrat, how can I defend Brand? Surely he’s a product of the very systems he criticizes?" “Brand plays the role of the court jester, isn't he just speaking of power in a way that lets off steam but doesn't change or really challenge anything?" "Celebrity rhetoric about individual freedom undermines a vision of democracy for the public good”.

To answer these challenges straight away, yes Revolution often does read in parts like an essay by an indulged celebrity. Yes, the tone can be very white, entitled and privileged. Yes, there is nothing revolutionary in promoting individual freedom at a time when we need new ways to think about our public, collective flourishing. And yes,  I do find Brand’s throw away sexism deeply troubling. For a really angry review which raises important questions see Mike Moynihan in the Daily Beast 

And yet, despite all these weaknesses I also thought there was an important insight and note of compassion in Brand’s book that can be missed by his critics and I appreciated it.

Brand argues that we are addicted to life styles built on economic growth, power, celebrity, consumption, fossil fuels, and the politics of racism and exclusion.  This is a simple, but compelling point. Brand suggests that until we recognise our economic, social and wider political pathologies are the result of our individual and collective addictions and face the problems, we can't achieve real change.

Brand's book is elevated by his insights into the ways we as citizens of developed economies have become addicted to an economics of material growth and how our dysfunctional politics supports this.  It is ironic that it takes celebrity status to help market the book's message. Never the less,  I found Revolution surprisingly thought provoking, sometimes moving, often frustrating, and yes, worth reading.

Bronwyn Hayward

Russell Brand on Revolution Published by Random House 

Further reading to take the ideas introduced by Brand further 
To read more 12 steps of recovery 
On New ways of thinking about Economics: Prosperity without Growth Tim Jackson 
On new ways of thinking about politics as Listening forDemocracy  Andy Dobson 
On inclusive politics Cathy Cohen & Black Youth Projec
On new politics of equality & inclusion hear Chantal Mouffe's recent lecture

Thursday, 13 February 2014

Fourth Wave Feminism & Air NZ

Fourth Wave Feminism & Air NZ

This post is written for a new University of Canterbury FemSoc publication.  UC Femsoc itself is part of the rise of a new wave of feminist thinking on campuses and streets everywhere. 

Here I reflect on the current New Zealand debate about a "required to view" Sports Illustrated video on Air NZ and the Roast Busters and Odd future cases.

The Air New Zealand video is not an  issue that will go away. A "required to view" video repeated day after day on domestic flights by a state owned airline is a prospect that should trouble the NZ government in an election year where women's votes matter.

Air New Zealand's "required to view" Sports Illustrated Safety Video

There are important tensions which need debating in the decision by Air NZ to 'celebrate' a 50 year anniversary of the US corporate, Sports Illustrated magazine by involving that company's bikini clad models in a safety video for Air NZ, a video that is compulsory to view for anyone on the plane.

 In the first instance, sexism aside, this decision runs up against the libertarian arguments of free choice. Claims that people's choice of dress is up to them, are undercut if all passengers are compelled to watch what amounts to an advertisement for Sports Illustrated even if it offends them. When I  raised my concern about the required to view implication of the video, it was a new conservative National politician, Paul Foster-Bell who first responded, agreeing and tweeting, "If safety videos are compulsory viewing they should cut down on the embarrassingly cringeworthy vids".

Then there is a very basic question- do such videos make us safer? Some commentators argue the message is distracting from safety, because it is now buried in visuals. And surely feeling annoyed is also distracting? Then there is the contentious research in human psychology that asks, if "sex sells", does it also inform, or do some 'sexualised contexts' actually distract us from performing important cognitive functions, like concentrating on key facts and detailed information?

One of the most significant critics of the content of the video itself from a feminist perspective however has been Massey academic and  NZ Labour Party candidate Deborah Russell who takes the issue up as a loss of sexual consent for passengers required to view the images, even if they object. Passengers are literally strapped in their seats just trying to get from destination A to B. News anchor Hilary Barry and columnist Pam Corkery have also spoken up strongly about their own anger, their voices are challenging dominant media narratives, and giving voice to public frustration and concern. The argument that Sport's Illustrated offers a new global market, misses the point that trapped audiences don't like the message.

Other critics go further and point out the hypocrisy of corporations mainstreaming very soft porn images while worrying about the rise of online sex industries 'grooming' young girls. If Air New Zealand was serious about celebrating the new woman's body, then why not make a video that celebrates Pussy Riot? Oh wait, that band  symbolises the new contradictions and challenges of fourth wave feminism but might also incite public disorder.....

Then there are the very strange tensions this video creates for Air New Zealand as an employer. On the one hand Air New Zealand has recently announced that all senior employees are banned from relationships, even if single, because there can be "no ambiguity" At the same time, they are presumably going to expect women in cabin crew to stand to attention in the aisles while sexualised images are played on screens around them. A very ambiguous situation I'd have thought?

Finally, there is the political-economy objection, in a global market why is a government owned airline promoting a multinational company and not locally owned New Zealand businesses in this "required to view" advertorial? (Time Warner is the parent firm of Sports Illustrated, it also backed the Hobbit films-would it be too cynical to ask if a required to view inflight advertorial for SI is well timed exposure for a US company in a struggling market sales environment, in which Sport Illustrated has also just tried to launch a connection to Barbie dolls?-see comment links below).

There is much irony and much to feel angry about, that just as young New Zealand women like Lorde, Eleanor Catton and Lydia Ko again lead the world in diverse areas, Air New Zealand ignores these outstanding role models and instead presents (I'd hesitate to go as far as to say 'grooms') New Zealand girls with American images of passive women in a colonial vision of island paradise which they aim to make 'required' viewing as a public safety message.

Yet fourth wave feminism reminds us that there are a myriad of ways to address problems like this and Air New Zealand has picked a very bad moment in social history to push an advertising campaign that perpetuates sexism. Besides the obvious consumer protests in a neoliberal era (eg fly JetStar) and the new trends to creative, colourful protest, there is the wider debate, why fly at all? Why not save the carbon and make that next meeting by skype?

Where to next?
Despite initial protestations that the 'required to view video' is just good publicity -actually it is not new or innovative, having been tried in 2009 with the same magazine connecting with Southwest Airlines.

Nor is the issue going away any time soon, especially if the video is played day in and day out on domestic flights. The many voices of New Zealand's women will not be easily silenced in the Air New Zealand Safety video debate nor any other political debates despite a current cacophony of predominantly 'white men from Auckland' holding forth as media commentators, sternly telling citizens what to think (or how to vote).

But it is not just New Zealand media that struggles currently with lack of diversity of women's voices. All political parties are very conscious in an election year with tight voter margins, women's votes will matter, as will youth votes. Even if some passengers don't find the video offensive, an irritating video played day in and day out on the government owned national airline, will no doubt serve as a lightening rod for some tension.

Emancipation was hard fought. It is not about how to shop or limited ideas of free choice in a market. The fourth wave emancipation movement is also breathing new life into wider debates about economics (whose economy?), the environment, politics, and our capability to exercise more meaningful citizenship. It is heard in the challenging, irreverent voices of a diverse new feminist movement.

It matters that significant victory for first wave feminism was achieved in New Zealand, a ripple, with far reaching global consequences. It took 2000 years for a novel Greek idea that all free men should have the right to vote, before women won that right and it was first won through efforts of a small group of women largely based here in Christchurch. A phenomenal achievement of strategy, alliance building, and campaigning which is still routinely dismissed by 'experts' as if it were a mere accident or twist of fate and privilege, not an extraordinary political achievement. Where will this new fourth wave of creative witty, challenging protest and debate about everyday sexism and loss of democratic voice take us?  I look forward to finding out and I welcome the new Femsoc publication and thank the editors very sincerely for their vision.

Finally A note about FemSoc: a new feminist publication launched at the University of Canterbury

It is great that UC students are  launching a new FEMSOC newspaper. Feminist societies are blossoming on campuses world wide as part of a new "fourth wave" of feminist thinking and activism. The title of a new Oxford University feminist paper for example is, Cuntry Living a title which still makes me laugh every time I think about it.

Irreverent satire is one of the features of a so called Fourth Wave of feminism. This acerbic, often visual feminist comedy is also illustrated by the Suffra-jests a local student feminist group that recently started here in Christchurch, the home of Kate Sheppard and the White Ribbon publication (an early feminist newsletter published by women who also spearheaded NZ's world leading votes for women campaign in 1893). Today's suffra-jests group sprang up in protest against overbearing central government here in Christchurch and the loss of local democracy after the earthquakes. It is taping into the energy of new, global activist thinking and experimentation on streets everywhere,  from the Transition architecture movement, to contentious feminist debates in Occupy , gender solidarity in Indignados or the interface between urban planning and feminism for example in  Gezi park and diverse indigenous rights campaigns.

Other features of fourth wave feminism are its new focus on cultural life, social media, technology and  political connections between inequality, intersexuality, unemployment, online misogyny, workers conditions, and rape. The new and unexpected nature of this protest and voice is spilling over everywhere. If the first wave of feminism secured political rights to vote, the second wave in the mid 1960s and 70's aimed to secure social and economic rights. A subsequent third wave, (which has set the roots for what we see now today) began to react against a corporate feminist movement "too often about the glass ceiling, never about the floor" as late 1990's feminists gave voice to the diversity, of minority voices and the issues of civil rights in writers like bell hooks (lowercase) and post colonial feminism.

Just as earlier waves of feminism grew out of, and were reinforced by, previous actions and thinking, the so called third wave has now morphed into a cultural online revolution as women and men make connections between the battles against surveillance and misogyny on the internet, the freedom to determine our lives and the rights of women and girls, and LGBT communities to decent sustainable work, quality education, and self expression, typified in the twitter writing of @PennyRed and a constant self critical reflection that listens to the variety of women's everyday oppression experiences in a complex world.

New Issues 
The new issues for fourth wave feminism are different, and here in New Zealand some of this difference is shown in the focus of new campaigns and alliances. Often humour and consumer boycott typifies the most visible protests - and the target is public hypocrisy and everyday oppression. For example in New Zealand feminist commentators already highlight the tension between outrage and complaints about the online group of young men known as Roast Busters  and support for the banned, misogynistic hip hop group Odd Future. The latter was banned from travelling to New Zealand to perform not because of violent lyrics but because it was deemed 'likely to incite public disorder'. This suggests that a current conservative NZ government may have wished to respond to concerns about Odd Future but felt an outright ban was difficult given their conservative yet libertarian position. The alternative however was to ban the group on grounds of inciting disorder, is a far more troubling justification for excluding any group as Elle Hunt and Viki Anderson argue (1).

Fem Soc offers a terrific forum for new debate, I look forward to it.

(1) Elle Hunt however refers to laws of 'sedition'- actually, thanks for the reminder -the Law Commission recently abolished the charge of sedition, it was the provisions of the Immigration Act which was used instead to ban travel of the group Odd Future.
A disclaimer, people ask why this blog site is called growing greens-I perhaps should clarify I don't refer to any green political party per se. It was the draft title of a book on green thought- red, blue, deep, or feminist -long since replaced by Children, Citizenship and Democracy, however I've  stuck with the blog handle....

Wednesday, 12 February 2014

Making Our Experience Count

Making Our Experience Count

Climate change, flooding, bushfires, poverty, inequality, youth unemployment...The complex, interconnected problems of a changing world can seem quite overwhelming for citizens of any age, fueling a sense of helplessness and apathy. How can everyday democracy help counter a sense of powerlessness in the face of such complex problems?

Yesterday  I drove a group of kids to a club activity. The news was playing on the car radio, with reports of more flooding, along with an account of the latest child poverty study by the NZ Salvation Army- saying what we know: how serious the issue of child poverty is, and that NZ's current approach to "Work you way out of poverty", isn't working as a solution for many of the complex situations that families with children currently face.
There was a long pause in the conversation after I'd turned off such dismal news.
In the silence one of the kids in the car said quietly,   'The world is so messed up."
My heart sank, and my reply was too quick, I said too brightly, "I know but that's why so many colleagues, in fact everyone we know is working really hard to tackle tackle this".
Even as I said it, I knew how inadequate it sounded as a response.
At the time we were driving through the maze of road cones, gravel and demolished buildings that is the down town of Christchurch city after the quakes, and a bus pulled out in front of us. The bus had  a picture on the back of it of the Christchurch student volunteer army leader Sam Johnson who had networked with 24,000 people on facebook and arranged up to 10,000 youth to work in groups of between 10- 100 each day to help clear silt after the earthquakes here
The advertisement just said "make our experience count". It is a standard public service warning to remind people to secure heavy furniture etc to avoid more deaths/injury from any future quakes.
But what was also interesting was the empowering impact the advertisement had. The child glanced at the advertisement, and then said thoughtfully..."The world is really screwed up but not that messed up..."

I understood what he meant, and not for the first time I was grateful to the New Zealand mental health experts who argued very strongly that any public service disaster messages for Christchurch should be empowering and not more images of doom or disaster.

More than that I again felt especially grateful to the students of Christchurch for their collective response to the earthquake disaster- because it has had a profound and far reaching positive role modelling effect for a new generation of young people, demonstrating the power of  collective "efficacy" in the face of what can be quite overwhelming events.

The power of collective action was demonstrated by the students and other community groups after the disaster in Christchurch, and it continues today often in student led experiments with new transition buildings, new art projects, new community gardens, and new local economic ideas, in the face of often strong central government resistance.

These activies provide a way to test new ideas, and thinking, but the collaborative effort also reminds us that it is not what we can do as individuals that really counts, although individuals taking a stand for example on moral principles or offering new ideas, matters enormously in a democracy, but it is the power of what we can do together, that really makes the long term difference.

When we interviewed Christchurch children aged 8-12 years before the earthquakes, a number of children revealed how years of neoliberal market economics has also impacted on their ideas about what makes a "good citizen". Some thought it was very important that citizens were 'self helpers', able to stand on their own two feet, others through good citizens were citizens who could effect change in the market, as social entrepreneurs or ethical shoppers. Still others thought good citizenship required a sponsor, a philanthropist or charity to support them to fund the school library, or playground

There is nothing wrong with this view of citizenship but it is a very thin response, in two ways. First, it leaves the causes of everyday injustice unchallenged, even if we tackle the symptoms of inequality and injustice , we don't think wider about what systemic actions are causing this situation. Second,  the thin citizenship of self help individualism undermines the capacity of collective effort as democratic community.  As Christchurch residents know, in the scale of an earthquake or natural disaster, there are real limits to what even the most determined individual can do. We also need the power of collective effort and the support of others to sustain our individual capability to take action.

In a changing world, young children can feel like "eco-worriers" who care very much about the changing climate or poverty, yet feel disempowered, by the situation, burdened by a sense of responsibility that they have to solve these issues themselves. Others  growing up in inequality may struggle with a sense of isolation.  It is only a very small step from feeling overwhelmed by a problem, to disengagement and cynicism, as Clive Hamilton reminds us in Requiem for a Species, apathy, that "why bother" attitude, is a rational response to a sense of powerlessness.

Given the scale and the complexity of many social and environmental problems we now face, it understandable that citizens, young and old can feel disempowered. Overwhelming apocalyptic imagery about a changing climate or constant statistics about poverty often doesn't help, if the problem is so big, why think about it? Why not carry on business as usual? What good will worrying about these issues let alone taking action, do? Far easier to justify our disengagement, "I have enough to worry about, its their fault they are poor", "I work hard", "I  saved for a house built on high ground, why can't they...?"

Yet it is not all bad news. Even after three decades of emphasis on the values of economic individualism in New Zealand, many New Zealand children we interviewed still expressed a confidence that they could also take collective action and significant empathy for others. When we asked children where they felt they were listened to and when they felt they could make a difference, the answers came out thick and fast: they felt listened to in team sports with a caring coach, in mid decile community schools where children met people unlike themselves, yet also felt  respected and safe. Other children felt proud of taking part in culture groups like kapa haka, community gardens, on school camps or combined school musical and theatre performances and felt they mattered. Some children commented on taking part in everyday community action or protest, about real issues with more experienced citizens and peers.

Each of these activities might not sound like the lessons in citizenship, and they are a very long way from civics tests and facts about politics, but the best way to learn about democracy is by  doing democracy. The opportunity to engage in respectful,  collective discussion and to take action with others, is an important seedbed of a different, richer kind of citizenship.

 Opportunities to learn about citizenship by taking action and collaborating with others are  important for any age group. It is easy to overlook for example the way the roots of the Student Volunteer army itself grew out of a group of students from a theatre club and a student hostel.

I have written previously about the sea change that is represented in the rise of a new generation of collective action and is now visible in new feminist thinking and new student union activity in solidarity with other groups , challenging traditional economics textbooks and experiments with  networked action to resist unfair global tax or business practice or to encourage a variety of new cooperative ideas.

It is part of a wider rediscovery of collective citizen power after financial disaster and in the face of a changing climate, and growing inequality. But it is collective action that challenges 'group think', and rediscovers new ways to create meaningful democratic citizenship in everyday life.

It is in this everyday collaboration with others that we as citizens begin to appreciate the extra-ordinary power of ordinary people acting together to achieve a more just and sustainable world.

Monday, 27 January 2014

What we cherish, we defend: Why social democratic values and outdoor play matter

What we cherish, we defend 

This is a blogpost, written mainly for my home of New Zealand, in which I begin an argument that we need to rethink (and renew) our social contract (or agreement between citizens) about how we govern ourselves, and what duties and mutual obligations we owe each other and especially children.

 I realised after I wrote it I've been also thinking for some time about Rousseau's social contract and his reflections on walking- as well as Horton and Friere's ideas about education in their book, "We make the road by walking" .

So this writing is a 'meandering walk' through a range of ideas, and ways of seeing the world as I start to draft a piece on the social contract and how we come to value democracy beyond civics

This morning, before I sat down to work,  I walked the dog. In a thirty minute walk along a farm road, the dog and I climbed a hill, walked though bush, crossed the creek and came to the top of the valley where the bird song hung thick and rich in the still morning. On the way we'd passed a small eel rearing its head up from the local creek, a geranium growing wild and tiny flitting piwakawaka fantails (see the hasty mobile phone images above), passed a gaggle of small black ducklings and startled a flock chaffinches.

Looking across the stillness of the valley, I reflected on a comment a friend made recently about his own childhood, "It is a bit odd living in New Zealand now, after growing up on the 11th floor of an apartment where nature can be a tiny bug that happens to somehow find it's way onto the plants on your window sill. But I also don't think kiwis realise how much green space there was around my 'mega-city' home".

Similarly graduate students from central Singapore and a very deprived urban neighbourhood in Southern USA both recently explained to me how they had to learn to value the environment later in their lives but only once they'd moved away from home. They both made similar observations, "Until I'd lived in a place with lots of nature I didn't really get it, I never thought a lot about it". "Until I moved to somewhere where I saw  hills and trees, not just trailer parks, nature just wasn't a part of my life, it was just something on TV, it wasn't anything I thought about really". 

Much has been written about why the everyday experience of regular, unstructured outdoor play in quality natural environments is so important for children's well-being, independence, mental health, and physical development. We don't have to fan yet more moral panic about the state of childhood to appreciate that it is very hard for children to value let alone defend the environment if the outdoors is not part of everyday life experience. In 1965, in her book "A sense of wonder", ecologist Rachel Carson argued passionately that we need to nurture a child's sense of wonder about their natural world. 

When I was writing Children, Citizenship and Environment I was also struck however by the way we also need to nurture a child's sense of wonder about their democratic world, and the extraordinary possibilities of ordinary people acting together to effect change.

It is equally very hard for children to value collective action let alone democracy if acting together and making decisions with others you may disagree with, has not been a regular part of your life.

In a soon to be completed, masters thesis by Elizabeth Plew, Plew, a New Zealander, reports on  interviews with young people, parents and teachers at one Norwegian middle school. Her work complements a wider study with our colleagues at the University of Oslo, Norway: Voices of the Future project.  One of Plew's interview subjects reflected on how she has grown up valuing public discussion and community participation as part of everyday Norwegian life,

 " a corner of soul, there is a kind of feeling that "everyone matters". I think it's part of the Norwegian way, we've built our welfare and school system on it" (Plew, 2014).

Understanding how New Zealand children learn to value their community and their democracy was one of the aims of my Children, Citizenship and Environment study. The interviews and comments of New Zealand children were striking, while many reported they thought good citizenship was a matter of "individuals" taking responsibility for their "own lives" or spoke of "self help" or charity and corporate sponsors (not unexpected results after three decades of dominant neoliberal values in New Zealand), many also reported valuing richer, collaborative forms of citizenship.

Many New Zealand children we interviewed for that study,  reported learning to value collective life and cooperation through unexpected everyday activities where citizenship was not the main focus of their learning , but a valuable outcome. For example many children reporting valuing opportunities to cooperate and take part in shared decision making through school camps, or in team sport activties, others valued helping out with local whanau or tribal events or the opportunity to observe adults they respected take part in hui or other community meetings. Others reported that they had were part of community protests (eg to retain a local outdoor community swimming pool), or worked with families and teachers to help build a community garden or solve a local problem.

Children who most strongly identified with democratic virtues such as collective problem solving and inclusive, respectful discussion across deep differences were children who had many opportunities to learn from more efficacious  peers or older community members, and chances to take part in real life community problem solving and experience discussion in diverse classroom communities where they felt listened to, respected and safe.

Learning to cherish our democratic communities
After a public lecture I gave two years ago, a New Zealand woman who grew up in Sweden asked a question of others in the room, she said: "When I was a child, we grew up having a nutritious, hot lunch everyday at school, we all sat together  to eat it, it was a community feeling, and when I think about it now I think I grew up feeling loyal to a state that fed me -I think it was quite an important part of how I learned to feel proud to be Swedish actually - so I often wonder why do so many people in New Zealand seem so resistant to the idea of feeding children at school, children are part of our community, we want them to know we all care for for them, they are New Zealanders?" 

I have thought often about her comments as New Zealand debates the idea of providing children with breakfast and perhaps lunch. Last year NZ's conservative National coalition government fairly reluctantly announced a charity sponsorship deal, that would provide cereal and  milk for children in all low income community schools. It seemed to me at the time a disturbingly conflicted gesture. While no one will deny a generous act of philanthropy, do we really want to leave responsbility for citizen wellbeing to corporate charity? Would 2 wheetbix and a splash of milk really solve the nutrition and poverty related problems facing one in four children in New Zealand?

Privately some conservative politicians from several parties have since remarked to me that some of their own families or friends continue to feel uncomfortable about a seeming reluctance to invest more in children. While there are vocal advocates for personal responsibility, there is an equally significant legacy in New Zealand of compassionate conservatism.
It would be concerning if our small democracy became deeply polarised about the social contract or the support we owe children as young citizens. Adam Smith, the founder of modern economics, talks in his lesser known, (but magnificent book) 'Theory of Moral Sentiments"  of the importance of our ability to empathize with others.That book offers, in effect, a vision of the role of government as a 'helping hand" for citizens which compliments the more (in)famous 'hidden hand" of the market he discussed in the "Wealth of Nations" . 

In a recent lecture to the LSE, Nobel Prize Winning economist Amartya Sen, concludes, that it is not our inability to empathize with the plight of others that leads us to continue to tolerate poverty , but a "cultivated" disinterest. He spoke harshly about the cynicism of media reporting, and the way campaigns can use language that distances us from each other. We should and we must resist language which degrades those who do not share our life experiences and we need to understand the lives of others.

Last week a UK conservative Minister for Employment was reported to have described much of the political language used to talk about poverty in the UK right now as "appalling". Language which dehumanises others, such as the "feral poor" shuts down the need for public moral reflection about our responsibilities to other citizens, and it chips away at our humanity making it permissible for otherwise good people, to dismiss poverty and inequality as just "band wagon issues", even at time when privately many of those same people admit they worry about life chances of people they know personally, or speak with pride about their own parents efforts to raise children and lead good lives, despite personal hardship.

When the current NZ Minister of Education, Hekia Parata recently said she grew up in a rural community that would have been regarded as poor, but it never felt poor, some critics may have derided the comments. However, while I disagree strongly with her Government's new education mechanism of private financial profit investment via charter schools,  I appreciate what the Minister is saying here. Our own research supports the current NZ Minister of Education's personal comments about the strength children can draw from supportive local communities.

It was in interviews with a decile one (poorest) rural kura, (Maori language school) and mid decile bilingual, culturally diverse state schools where children we spoke with were the most confident about community efficacy, or the possibility to collaborate to effect change. Children in the rural kura also also spoke warmly of the support of adults in the local marae or community trust who "make lot's of opportunities possible for us, like sports equipment and a great trip to Wellington to visit parliament and Te Papa (the national museum").

Children flourish when they feel  supported by a community and in turn they come to cherish that community.  

Policies to ensure young citizens are well supported should not and can not become the preserve of progressives alone, legacy politics is also the preserve of compassionate conservatives, as former Prime Minister Jim Bolger, argues,  investment in children and young people is critical for a "decent" New Zealand society.

The security and future of New Zealand children can't be left to party strategists. Citizens need all political parties to renew our social contract for New Zealand's youngest citizens, so all can flourish.

Disclaimer: The website address Growing Greens does not refer not to any political party  but to the  mooted title for a book which later became Children Citizenship and environment. The book explores how citizens of  all political persuasions learn to value  their environment and their  democracy. The first title was (wisely) rejected by the editors, but the blogsite title has stayed- for wider research readings view our  Children's Research Group site as it develops (and hopefully I can get macrons working on this blog site for te reo/Maori language!)