Skip to main content

The grammar of change - an essay by David Boyle

One of a series of essays written by independent thinkers exploring how people and places are changing through Big Local

September 2017

"The fear of regret sometimes paralyses people from doing anything at all, because to have done nothing means you have to regret nothing. We need to give people the opportunity to get things wrong - and to do something." Stephen, Arches Big Local area, Kent.

In this lively account of visits to Big Local areas in Kent, Blackpool, Leicester and Doncaster, author David Boyle examines the powerful stories of the residents involved and challenges established ideas about what it takes to create local change.

This essay is the first of a series exploring how people and places are changing through Big Local. Each essay considers the lessons of Big Local for institutions and policymakers interested in radical devolution of power and responsibility to a community level.

About the author

David Boyle is the author of a range of books about history, social change, politics and the future. He has been editors of a number of publications including Town & Country Planning, Community Network, New Economics, Liberal Democrat News and Radical Economics. He is a fellow of the New Economics Foundation.

Other essays in the series

'New seeds beneath the snow?' - Julian Dobson

'Skittled out? The collapse and revival of England's social infrastructure' - Dan Gregory

'Community Spirits' - Stephen Bates

'Designs on the past' - Carey Newson

'Building wealth' - Hazel Sheffield

Online version
PDF (35 pages)

Our phones are down

2 Jan 2019: Our office is open but our phones are not working. Please email us at while we fix them and we will respond to messages as soon as we can.

Got it

We’re making changes to the website. Your feedback will help us improve the site. Your feedback: