It also comes with me having finished (last week) my last post in the ‘Theoretical Foundations’ series, and I am in the process of compiling them into The Power of Ideas: Decline and renewal in the theoretical foundations of progressive thinking.
So it seems appropriate to finish up the year on a reflective note, taking stock of what’s been achieved, and then to say a bit about 2011.
Policy Progress was based on a belief that new policy thinking was important and a bet that this was an opportune time for it. In my very first post, I wrote:
I started Policy Progress because I believe that a clear programme of how we are going to advance as a nation, both economically and socially, is vital for the progressive movement. That programme, in turn, needs to be underpinned by strong theoretical foundations.
. . . I’m not saying there’s a vacuum here at present. Nevertheless, this is an area that always requires ongoing refinement, development and renewal.
Moreover, we’re currently living in turbulent times. Many of the underpinning theories that have dominated policy thinking across the world for the last thirty years are being seriously questioned – particularly in the economic sphere. And the challenge of climate change may require even more fundamental rethinking.
I predict that this will a fertile time for progressive thought. Part of what I aim to do with Policy Progress is to contribute to introducing and adapting these ideas to the New Zealand environment.
That belief and that prediction have continued to inform the 140 posts that I’ve written for Policy Progress over the last eleven months. I’ve traversed a range of different topics and ideas (especially in my Weekend Reading recommendations) and tried a few experiments (Commentary Round-up lasted pretty well; Quote of the Week not so much).
But the two topics that most dominated my work were what I’ve called ‘Progressive Path to Prosperity’ and ‘Theoretical Foundations’. The first related to improving New Zealand’s economic fortunes, and I feel I presented some interesting and original numerical work on understanding the nature of the problem. But there’s certainly still unfinished business to return to there.
Where I feel a real sense of achievement is on ‘Theoretical Foundations’. This topic went right to the heart of what I was talking about in that first post. It tried to grapple with the history and prospects of progressive thinking and renewal, at a reasonably high level. And the 35 or so posts I produced on that topic really do add up to something that hangs together. There’ll always be more that could have been said on a topic like this, and, of course, new developments happen all the time. But I’m pretty proud of The Power of Ideas and look forward to publishing it online shortly.
In many ways, though, my own work was just the ballast, and the real grace notes on Policy Progress have come in the Guest Posts. Thank you to Darel Hall, Peter Harris, David Craig, Josh Williams, James Caygill, Rob Salmond, Jordan Carter, Ayesha Verrall, Bill Verrall and Donna Wynd. I’m very pleased that two trilogies of posts by Peter Harris and David Craig have been compiled into online publications that will hopefully help them find a wider and ongoing audience (Peter’s one came out last week; David’s should be out shortly). But there is a wealth of other fine guest-posts there, as well.
2010 has also been a learning experience for me at a technical level. I’d been a keen reader of blogs for a few years now (it was RSS readers that really turned me into a convert), so I had some idea what I was letting myself in for. But the ongoing week-to-week experience of producing a blog and keeping it going has been an insightful and at time challenging one. Looking back with hindsight on some of the things I hoped to produce, some of my initial ambition gives me pause (but not regrets). But I’m very pleased that I always gave myself and my readership very clear expectations about what would be produced and how often. I feel that has been the key to maintaining the blog’s momentum.
Thanks too to those who helped get the website off the ground (you know who you are!), and to my Education Directions colleague Dave Guerin who embarked on the blogging adventure in tandem with me.
If this is beginning to sound a bit like a valedictory . . . well, it is, really. I’ll be taking on a new role in the New Year. I can’t say much about it at this time, as the final details haven’t been signed off just yet. But, not only will it involve increased hours and thus reduce my availability for blogging, it will also mean it wouldn’t be appropriate to carry on writing Policy Progress.
So what does that mean for the site? Well, to be honest, we shall have to see. I’ve approached some of my more regular guest-posters about carrying things on without me in 2011, and I’m hopeful that we’ll see Policy Progress entering a new, better and stronger phase. But these people all have jobs and lives of their own, so it may be that the volume of posting reduces a little, or a lot, at least at first. I would anticipate that when new material does go up, though, there’ll still be a newsletter advisory about it, so stay subscribed!
Finally, I’d like to thank you, the readers of Policy Progress. This site has often been more demanding than a standard blog, not just of me, but of the readership as well. Some of the content has been pretty difficult, and the long-running series of posts have often asked a lot of your patience. So thanks for sticking with it, and in particular thanks to those of you who have provided feedback and comment — it really is the fuel that keeps a blogger going!
I won’t be leaving the blogosphere entirely though. I’ll continue to report on my experiences on the Capital & Coast District Health Board on my Care not Cuts website in 2011. In the meantime, here’s wishing you all a pleasant and relaxing Christmas season and a progressive new year!