The ResPublica Trust's managing director attends a discussion on religion in public life with Tony Blair and the Archbishop of Canterbury, enjoys the upbeat mood in London during the Olympics, and looks into solutions to the UK's housing and banking crisesMonday
The week kicks off with a weekly staff meeting where we discuss progress of ongoing projects, forthcoming events, and various fundraising and business development issues. This week our main priorities are planning ResPublica's fringe events at the British political party conferences this autumn.
In the afternoon I have a meeting with a researcher from the House of Lords, to discuss amongst other things the work of the new All Party Parliamentary Group on Life Transitions. The group's focus on cross-cutting interests such as transitions into adulthood, family life, retirement, intersect very well with a number of projects at ResPublica, such as our Commission on Youth, consultation exploring the nature of marriage in contemporary society, and a project in the pipeline on the flexible workforce. There is lots of exciting potential for future collaboration.
Then back to the office to finish off an application to a United Kingdom-based grant-making organisation. We are proposing to host an event on community journalism and hyper-local media, which we hope will develop into a more comprehensive project on the future of media and local democracy.
The day starts with a meeting with Construction Skills, the sector skills council with whom we are co-hosting a fringe event at the Conservative party conference. In the afternoon I have a board meeting with our trustees, which usually take place every couple of months since the ResPublica Trust – the not-for-profit which now undertakes all of ResPublica's work – became operational around one year ago. We are currently planning the publication of the trust's first annual report.
Then off to an evening discussion in Westminster with Tony Blair and Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, on the topic of religion and faith in public life. It is a wide-ranging discussion covering John Rawls, the Middle East and the partnership between the state and religious communities. Williams argued that the language of human rights is grounded in religious thinking, which got me thinking about whether the more modern individualistic premise to rights should be compared or contrasted with religious values, traditionally based on communitarian principles.
Morning in the office followed by a lunch meeting with UK Regeneration, to discuss a few ideas on enabling the private sector to address the housing crisis in this country and regenerate communities as well as quality places.
In the afternoon I meet with a colleague to outline a new proposal on the banking and finance. We want to explore potential banking reforms beyond ring-fencing and regulation, with a particular emphasis on mutual models and on risk- and profit-sharing arrangements. Perhaps most challenging for the sector are the issues of public morality and private integrity, and it is only in addressing these that real transformative change can be achieved.
Today I am off to an Olympics lunch reception hosted Electric Ireland, with a few current/former Irish Olympians in attendance such as Sonia O'Sullivan and Marian Heffernan. It is held at Foreman's Fish Island, which has a fantastic view of the Olympic Stadium. There is a great Olympics mood in London at the moment and it is a good to catch up with a few familiar faces in the sunshine.
I am in the office all day today. Have a phone call with David Blunkett MP's office to chat through the paper we are working on together on citizenship and young people. In the evening, we have farewell drinks for our work experience student who has been with us for the last couple of weeks, and an intern who is going back to university in the United States.
I have recently moved house, so today I am collecting and assembling furniture – it turns out my DIY skills need a bit of practice. In the evening I have a few friends over to watch the Olympics on television.
A lie in, late lunch, and then spending the afternoon preparing for the week ahead. Next week marks a year since the UK summer riots in 2011 – we are co-ordinating a number of guest blogs and I am putting together a short piece on the contrast between the public mood in London this time last year and this week, where everyone is celebrating the success of London 2012. Rather than just another transient event that sparks media attention, how can the Games leave a legacy of social optimism and civic engagement? I argue that lessons can be drawn in terms of participation opportunities, positive peer role models, and formal and informal support structures.Caroline Macfarland is the managing director of The ResPublica Trust, which carries out the UK work of the London-based think-tank ResPublica