As some of you will know I live in one corner of a big public park. The park is run by the Council - but for how long into the future we don't know. In preparation for the day, the Council has wisely set up a 'Friends of' group which could, in time, evolve into something more.
So last night I missed bedtime stories and trooped down, Big Society-style, to the park to the Friends meeting. I had extra motive because, without saying very much at all the Council had put whackin' great fences up around my favourite meadow in some hare-brained attempt to earn revenue from grazing - except no revenue actually comes in till 2017 because the grazier has paid for the fencing.
Anyway, nuff said there. The meeting was composed of various people from the community, mostly older and all, I would say, not high in confidence around their role as a group. The dominant force in the meeting was the man from the council, who, for the most part, was letting people know what was happening.
The interesting bit here is the future. The park is a great place but financially not that viable. It has buildings in it which if sold could raise funds - an endownment effectively - for the park. Equally, they could, with investment, be made into rustic retail and garden-centre type operations which, in turn, would generate revenue.
But who would do this? The Council themselves probably don't have the skills. But neither too do the community. This isn't an area full of up-and-at-it professionals who will lead a new social venture, attract the investment, redevelop the site etc.
So who will do it? I suspect an enterprise bringing all of the parks in West Suffolk under one umbrella is the likely answer - some kind of spin-out which can attract revenues which the council can't. Then comes the question of where the commercial skills will come from. Because one thing is certain. The man from the council will still be at the centre of things and we could be no further on.
My dilemma therefore is this: do I work with and on this gentleman, bringing him along to appreciating that the park is not his park, to share power a little more and, yes, let commerce play a role in a sustainable future? Or do I argue that parts of the park need to be sold off now to create an endowment - and probably put the man from the council out of the picture?
Interesting one - any thoughts?