After recent years it's easy to find oneself becoming something of a student of consultation processes. While there are some differences, similar approaches start to emerge early on, some of them unfortunate. But those that are really good are rare indeed - usually ones other people go to rather than oneself.
The first surprise with the latest of the EPD Moors meetings was that it was unexpectedly well attended. I paused a moment to wonder why seeing as so few local people knew about it. It was in Totley close to the moors and there are, unusually for Sheffield, plenty of places for posters to be put up (three community notice boards and a library) and several major community groups who could have been informed. A little investigation showed that none of the posters was displayed and none of the community groups had been told. So how did all these people know about it? An overheard conversation gave the first clue. One of those attending was saying to an organiser that she was here 'as a local resident' - indicating her name label- puzzling until one realised she was actually an employee of PDNPA. At this the penny dropped. Those attending had been informed through 'official' groups, i.e. RSPB, PDNPA, CPRE, SWT, bikers groups, and many others while the more 'general' public had been largely ignored, one could almost say 'excluded' through lack of communication. Actually to her great credit the person referred to above herself made just that point in the Q&A session at the end for which we should be grateful. Though of course her signing in as 'local resident' in the official record serves to give the impression to anyone later querying the broad or narrow representation that locals were notified when they were not. Maybe not a major point and some may claim I'm being picky but similar things have happened before. And I remain sore that my own attendance was not invited and that only luck and the presence of mind of others brought me the information. Anyway.................
Anyway, the point of all this is one of my hobby horses: that some of the most regular users of green spaces around our cities are not members of groups united by a specific but narrow interest but those with a wider capacity for personal appreciation of the areas in question, people whose enjoyment and critical appreciation of the natural and wildlife spaces is less easily pinned down to one aspect. As suggested in her question by the person above referred to, some of us like to go out to enjoy the sunset and do not feel the need to join a group of sunset watchers to achieve recognition by whatever bureaucracy needs our agreement and approval before going ahead with what it's already decided to do anyway.
It's interesting to speculate how this has evolved. Something suggests a wariness of those who are in groups strengthened by a common purpose and therefore better able to exert influence, so must be given due respect. Others however resent that they must needs 'organise' to be recognised in a situation - the tranquillity and remoteness of natural areas- where they have sought out a refuge from just those aspects of human affairs that demand a certain pushiness.
This post is proof that you can start off thinking you were going to write about one thing and then find some time later that you've written about something else entirely. Oh well. Maybe I'll try again later. If I wander off the subject any more I will have to join the Ramblers. Didn't Dr Johnson write a series of periodicals called 'The Rambler'?