Editor: Elenor McKenny


Where to start?  Every place is unique, and Cambridge is no exception; shaped by its history, culture, politics and geographical location and the resources developed and recycled within it. With a prestigious university creating a hub for education and the academic capital within the city shaping the landscape for scientific research, development and innovative business - people are attracted from all over the world to study, live and work here. Its reputation for employment opportunities and investors savvy to a property price bubble has made Cambridge an expensive place to live, whether you are one of the many students passing through, an individual or a family trying to put down roots.  So I wanted to learn what type of projects and activities develop within this context. 

It is essential to acknowledge also that this book has been written during troubled times; economic, political, social and environmental turmoil with no easy solution in sight and plans described in the media which appear to encourage more of the same.  When I volunteered to edit a Cambridge edition, I considered (and still worry about) the unintended consequences the series might have, due to the timing and current context we find ourselves in.  This book is not about volunteering or promoting an idea that it is ok to cut funding to essential public services because residents will fill in the blanks.  It is also not saying that grass roots initiatives have all the answers or that social enterprise can take the place of what our valuable public services have to offer.  Instead, it attempts to demonstrate that people already have power to make and shape the communities and places where we wish to spend time.  Everyone can play a role to create genuine positive change but we must be cautious about rhetoric and be careful to question the values and beliefs that underpin it.  National governments, local councils and people’s individual beliefs and values have the potential to shape communities in all sorts of ways.  Those actions, which foster ideas of social justice, are open, generous and do their best to include, are more likely to have a wider positive impact.