Notwestminster Reading List

As part of Notwestminster 2022: The future is unwritten, people in our community have been sharing their reading suggestions for each other. Here’s our Reading List.

What’s on your Reading List?

What words would inspire or move our participants? You can add up to 3 things to our Reading List. This can be anything you’d personally like to recommend – an article, a poem, a book or any other writing, by anyone – which fits our theme.

Add to our Reading List


Why the Key to Fixing Everything is All of Us

In Jon Alexander’s new book, published on 17th March 2022, he argues that we’re living in a time when the story of society is shifting fundamentally – creating a moment which is deeply scary, but also hugely empowering and exciting. This is the Citizen story, and we’re all part of it.

Notwestminster special preview: Read an introduction to CITIZENS, which Jon has shared specially with the Notwestminster network, ahead of publication.


CITIZENS by Jon Alexander

Same Skies publications

Same Skies are The Regional Democracy Think Tank
for West Yorkshire. Andrew Wilson is sharing their collaborative books, which include an alternative manifesto for West Yorkshire and a book of ideas about the future of the region.

AMPlify West Yorkshire

What Kind Of Region
Do We Want To Live In?

Slow Democracy

Rediscovering Community, Bringing Decision Making Back Home
by Susan Clark and Woden Teachout

Chosen by Quixada Moore-Vissing:
“I would recommend the book Slow Democracy which is a helpful resource about what building local democracy looks like.”

Slow Democracy

From What is to What If:

Unleashing the power of imagination to create the future we want
by Rob Hopkins

Chosen by Diane Sims:
“A book for helping you look forwards. It’s about imagination and the practical difference that we can all make in our local places when we start to ask “what if?”

From What is to What if

Democracy in a Pandemic

Edited by Graham Smith, Tim Hughes, Lizzie Adams, Charlotte Obijiaku

This book is a collection of writing from activists, practitioners, policy makers, researchers and writers, which makes the case for deeper participation and deliberation both during and beyond times of crisis. It was created by a great team including our friend Tim Hughes and had a belated launch in March 2022, with the Democracy Network at Newspeak House.

Democracy in a Pandemic

How to: Be More Pirate

by Sam Conniff and Alex Barker

Alex Barker shared the pirate story of writing your own rules at Notwestminster, and it struck a chord with many of our participants. You can read about lots of real life, relatable pirate examples in this book. It’s a map for causing good trouble. Also check out Sam’s earlier book on the same theme, which led to the Be More Pirate movement.

How to: Be More Pirate

Flatpack Democracy

by Peter Macfadyen

Start your local democratic revolution with these guides which are based on Peter’s experiences in Frome and examples of other places who have gone independent. Chosen by Pam Barrett, for anyone who would enjoy “A radical and fun romp through town and parish councils.”

Flatpack Democracy – The books

The Art of Gathering

How We Meet and Why It Matters
by Priya Parker

Chosen by Noreen Blanluet: “this book reflects on how to create thoughtful and purposeful gatherings, that are designed to meet the aims in terms of outputs or outcomes, while being positive experiences for participants. A big source of inspiration for me… which I think will be useful for anyone else operating in environments where people get together.”

And also chosen by Tom Chigbo: “too many of our well-meaning attempts to bring people together to practice democracy are boring, uninspiring or unproductive meetings that leave people less likely to come back for more… Priya Parker draws from a huge range of gatherings, rituals and experiences from around the world to show how we can do so much better.”

The Art of Gathering

More book recommendations

Chosen by Carl Whistlecraft

New Power – How it’s changing the 21st century and why you need to know, by Henry Timms and Jeremy Heimans
The Innovation Blind Spot – Why we back the wrong ideas and what to do about it, by Ross Baird
Why We Get The Wrong Politicians, by Isabel Hardman

Chosen by Nick Booth:

The Body Keeps the Score by Bessel Van Der Kolk
“Lets not pretend we’re invincible – this helps us stop.”

Chosen by Rebecca Deegan:

Invisible Women by Caroline Criafo Perez.
“It looks at many local level policies such as transport and shows how they are planned through a gendered lens, overlooking women’s needs and the consequences this has for everyone.”

Chosen by Tom Chigbo:

How to Resist: Turn Protest to Power by Matthew Bolton
“This book is a brilliant practical guide to the craft at the heart of any flourishing democracy: building relationships across communities and pushing for change. Matthew Bolton reminds us that democracy depends people power and spells out how any of us can go about building the power we need to get the change our communities are calling for. The book contains lots of stories and inspiring case studies of people putting Bolton’s principles into practice and winning.

Radical Help: How we can remake the relationships between us and revolutionise the welfare state by Hilary Cottam

“This is a really audacious challenge to everything about how our welfare state and social services work. However it is rooted in lots of small scale experiments that could be developed and tested in local areas. Our local democracy, if organised and supported right, could be a fertile ground for many such experiments that would ultimately make the welfare state more relational and deliver tangible change to people’s lives. Hilary Cottam’s principles and design approach, which focus on local relationships and human connection, should be adopted widely.


Chosen by Annette Aiken:

Caged Bird by Maya Angelou

“I have chosen this writing because it inspires people to think of themselves as free birds, where anything is possible – aspirations, hopes, dreams for a better life and society for all. A free bird ‘dares to claim the sky’ Rather than a caged bird who is fearful about life and the future. That fear makes the caged bird unable to act. The caged bird sings of freedom, but cannot turn this singing into action.”

Articles and blogs

Chosen by Quixada Moore-Vissing:

Community-Based Deliberative Democracy: The Case of New Hampshire Listens
Bruce L. Mallory, Quixada Moore-Vissing, Michele Holt-Shannon.

Quixada has shared this article about the work of New Hampshire Listens, which her Notwestminster 2022 Lightning talk ‘This is What Local Democracy Looks Like‘ was inspired by – “if folks would like to learn more.”

Chosen by Nick Booth:

Funding the Third Horizon – Cassie Robinson

“It sets out some of the thinking we need to do if we really want the future to be different.”

Building Mental Wealth – Dark Matter Labs

“If the world we live in is breaking our mental health then it’s probably the wrong world.”