Why Builders Need to Be Involved With Exterior Work


When a property development is complete, it may require the involvement of Auckland builders. Here are some of the reasons that they may be required.

If the building of a new house or office space is to be carried out, it will require planning permission. Before this can be granted, it will need to be checked that the building complies with planning laws and regulations. The work carried out by the construction company is necessary in this process.

For this reason, it is imperative that any building work is carried out in accordance with the construction guidelines laid down by the building department. Once the work has been completed, the contractors will submit an invoice to the relevant departments.

In the same way, when the building of a new home or business premises is completed, it will also require the services of Auckland builders. As there will be some additional costs associated with the work, the builder will not charge for the additional services unless there is a valid reason.

On the other hand, this does not mean that all the building work is paid for by the builder. In some cases, the builder will offer some free consultancy in order to try and prevent any future problems. When the work is completed and approved, the builder will submit final invoices.

Construction companies may also be involved in the handling of exterior work. This could include bricklaying, landscaping, window and door repairs, and similar work.

The amount of time spent on each job will depend on the type of work required. For example, if a contractor is carrying out exterior work, he will not be spending the majority of his time working on the windows or doors. This is because he will be using the inside of the house or building as his workshop or office. It is sometimes the case that a building will be damaged by the removal of an external wall, roof or other exterior structures. These structures are generally made from brick or concrete. Without these materials, these walls will need to be repaired.

When the external structure is removed, the builders will also need to carry out all repairs. The jobs that they perform will depend on the kind of walls being replaced. For example, if a building has a wooden interior, a bricklayer will not have to repair any wall surfaces.

Exterior walls are particularly vulnerable to damage during the winter months. Because they are exposed to strong winds, snow and heavy rain, they must be protected from damage.

At the beginning of December, when heavy snowfall is on the increase, the roofs of buildings are often damaged. This is because the roofs are not kept up to date and do not allow the wind to get through.

The aim of the exterior work carried out by builders is to protect the building from damage and improve its appearance in the meantime. To this end, various services will be required, including installing weather stripping, upgrading guttering and chimneys, repairing cracks and holes, replacing insulation, fixing broken windows and fixing the external wall of the building.


The Best Linux Mail Server


It’s probably no secret that if you’re running a business, the best Linux mail server will be one that works for you. To be truly effective, a mail server must be easy to use, secure, and reliable. While the underlying technology may differ in Linux from other operating systems, the same attributes govern all mail servers.

The first thing to look for is a user interface that makes it easy to get your mail. It shouldn’t be necessary to know how to manipulate any of the various commands that correspond to a certain part of the mail application. You should be able to move from a message’s list to a compose window with no trouble.

You should be able to do this with any webmail service. Most users take a subscription or a free trial to a webmail service for granted. They rarely check the webmail interface.

Webmail providers are as guilty as anyone of neglecting this aspect of their service. Unfortunately, it’s a part of everyday operating system use. People expect their email client to be “magically” fast, and they don’t think about it much until they’re notified that it’s not working. If you’re running a Linux mail server, be sure that you’ve got an elegant, user-friendly email client.

Security protocols are critical when you’re operating a mail server. The webmail client should be fully compatible with any encryption standards. And your mail client should be able to handle not only standard mail but encrypted mail as well.

Encrypted mail has been used for a number of years in the online world, but mail services didn’t always work well with it. For instance, POP3 and IMAP support was inconsistent. Not any more.

With these good ones, you can get access to your mailboxes anywhere, even on the move. It’s no longer necessary to send mail from a virtual computer. And it’s just one more reason that being Linux-aware is so important.

Modern mails are frequently encrypted, so be sure that the encryption is going to work smoothly. Encryption also adds another layer of security. You don’t have to worry about security breaches because you’re using a secure protocol. And your clients will appreciate the added security that encryption provides.

As we said earlier, the most effective mail server is one that’s easy to use and reliable. You don’t want to put all your eggs in one basket. That’s where a webmail service comes in.

While the basic credentials used by a webmail server may be the same as those used by the default mail client, the benefits are manifold. Not only does the email client not have to be kept up to date with every new security feature, it also doesn’t have to maintain its own cache of data, which means that it’s much faster to retrieve mail from the web than from the mail client.

With all of the major email service providers now offering an integrated mail client, it’s becoming easier than ever to manage a business’s communications. The technology behind this change is simple. Every major service provider now offers a native mail client.

In other words, if you’re running a Linux mail server, you’re still going to need some type of mail program to connect to your email account. But what you really need is an integrated webmail interface.


How to Find a Property Renovation Company in Auckland


If you are considering renovating your house, you may have wondered how to find a professional property renovation company in Auckland. We have done our research and come up with some useful tips to help you find the right company.

First of all, you need to be sure that your property has some problems that need fixing; some of these problems may be beyond your budget or time. A good business will make sure to identify these problems, identify the parts of your house which require immediate attention and fix them.

Ask for quotes. There are companies that will give you free quotes when you sign up. Make sure you check their credentials and don’t hesitate to contact their previous clients.

Ask for referrals. Always ask for referrals to see if the company actually performs the work it claims. If they don’t ask for referrals, you should be suspicious.

Check references. One of the most important steps when choosing a company is checking if they have references. You can visit the New Zealand Red Tape Association to check the legal status of the company. You can also check out whether they have been investigated by the Work Safety Commission.

Inspecting the premises and independent inspectors. You can also check whether the company has had any problems with the general cleanliness of the building and whether the work is inspected on a regular basis.

Ask for the company’s phone number. Many companies will provide this to their customers, but be sure to find out what the current list of services is before hiring them. This way, you will have a chance to cancel your work if you don’t feel comfortable with the company.

Read the inspection history. Make sure the company knows the needs of your house; always request a list of the requirements for the project. Ask the company to confirm that the work will be carried out to specifications.

Estimate the cost. It is important to get an estimate of the actual cost of the project from the company before signing anything. This will help you negotiate with the company and will allow you to say that you were fairly compensated for the project.

Negotiate with the company. If you still do not feel comfortable with the price, ask for a final price to be set in writing; this will help you stay within your budget.

Ask for cancellation. If you are unsatisfied with the cost, it is good to discuss this with the company; they should allow you to cancel the work if you want to.

Ask about the guarantee. Do you want any sort of guarantee against the results of the work? If not, ask if there is a working payment plan.


Is It A Good Idea To Buy Office Furniture In New Zealand?

There is one question that all business owners should ask themselves and their staff to find out if it is a good idea to make the switch to office furniture made in New Zealand. They should ask themselves this question and then answer it “no, it is not a good idea” when they are at the point of buying office furniture in New Zealand.

The reason for this is that buying cheap office furniture from New Zealand is more cost effective. There are cheaper ways to furnish a room in a country with a price tag that rivals any other nation in the world.

It used to be that cheap office furniture in New Zealand would mean local Kiwi companies and not ones from overseas. However these days it is possible to buy high quality office furniture from New Zealand that is the same as you would find in the US or Canada.

No matter what your personal preference is it makes a lot of sense to have the furniture made in New Zealand. When you compare the cost to getting furniture from Australia or the US, you will see that there is a huge difference.

A lot of the construction of the furniture is also done with New Zealand products which means you get high quality and you do not pay the high price. This is also a big factor when you have small offices and you cannot afford to have the furnishing delivered to your door step.

This means that if you have a small staff and you are running your business on a budget you can still get the furniture that you need for your business and it still gives you the same look as if you had the furniture shipped to your house. If you are lucky enough to get office furniture made in New Zealand, you will find that it has to be shipped in but the packaging is very strong and is well protected.

The office furniture that you get will last for many years and you will find that you will not be paying retail prices on your furniture for many years to come. This means that you are getting furniture that is on a roll.

The reason that a lot of businesses choose to go with the cheapest method is because they think that cheap is always better. However the truth is that a cheap office furniture in New Zealand would never be of any real quality and you would end up with an expensive piece of furniture that was not up to the job at hand.

You also have to consider that the costs of shipping will be covered in the price of the furniture and therefore you will not end up paying a fortune on shipping costs. The problem with the shipping is that you will end up paying a lot more than the quality of the furniture and you may end up being without furniture that you can use for years to come.

The money that you spend buying cheap office furniture in New Zealand will go a long way to improving your company’s bottom line. This is because you are using a cheap but high quality product for the space that you have and this can bring you hundreds of thousands of dollars in sales that you could not have achieved otherwise.

Cheap does not always equate to high quality and when you are in the business of selling office furniture it makes sense to use a high quality product that is low cost. The less that you have to pay in the way of shipping the more money you will save on your corporate budget.

You may want to think twice about cheap office furniture in New Zealand and what you get for your money before you decide. Even if you are happy with the look of the furniture you will find that it will last for many years and you will be able to benefit from that savings when you are looking to sell your business in a short sale.


Art Classes in Auckland – Where to Find a Master Painter

Finding a painting class in Auckland is easy. You just need to look in the right places and get yourself a certificate or diploma in a specialised art. Whether you are looking for a painting class in Auckland to teach you the basics of how to paint or you just want to learn how to make your own art, you can find it in a number of different places.

When looking for a painting class in Auckland, you can take it in several different ways – you can find a school online, take classes in an art school or on a retreat or buy a workbook from a studio offering classes. All these methods will get you the right education but it all depends on how much time you have to invest in your classes.

Online art classes are a lot easier than getting to an art school in Auckland. In addition, online art classes allow you to study at your own pace so that you can keep up with other students who want to master painters in Auckland.

If you are an art student and want to become a master painter, you should first look for the school that suits you best. Ask for a list of the schools that offer classes in painting that you can enrol in. This list may be available on the internet or in an arts magazine.

Once you know which school you want to join, start researching the classes. Learn about the style of painting that the school teaches and how long they have been around. You should also find out how many students are enrolled in the course, which way the courses are offered and if you can book one.

If you can’t find a school that suits you or that offers your preferred style of painting, consider booking online classes from studios that offer courses in painting. You can find these courses through internet search engines like Google and Yahoo. These schools offer services like email newsletters, teacher forums and virtual workshops, where you can practice your art and then create your own artwork at home.

To book online classes, you can visit a studio offering classes or if you are located in the city, you can contact them directly. You can choose between three to five week courses, starting from $350. Some of these studios offer both paid online classes and studio classes for as low as $65.

Booking online classes is easy if you search for a studio offering classes through an online search engine like Google. You can take a look at what they offer or even order for a book or voucher to help you learn at your own pace. You can join an art studio in Auckland or you can take a class online. Go 1 Day painting


Why You Should Use Car Wreckers

At one time, car wreckers were only hired by people who needed someone to haul away their vehicles. Most of the times, these types of companies had to be summoned by police in order to help remove a vehicle. These days, however, car wreckers are used by many different individuals who are in need of a car transporter. In fact, the use of car wreckers has increased dramatically in recent years, especially since Hurricane Katrina.

This disaster was brought on by manmade sources like oil and concrete. Instead of preparing for the storm from the beginning, many people decided to not properly prepare for a disaster. Those who did not move out of the area were able to escape with little damage to their homes, but those who stayed would need to leave quickly.

Unfortunately, because of this, many people did not have the proper transportation. Before the storm, most people would just call a wrecker to haul away their vehicles. Now, however, this task has become much easier with the addition of car wreckers.

One of the best features of car wreckers is that they can save you money. When your vehicle is hauled away, you can pay for it yourself. Depending on the extent of damage, you might be able to get rid of the cost yourself. However, if you do not want to hire a wrecker, you can always sell the car yourself.

Selling your car is a great way to make a few extra dollars. Many people prefer to take this route instead of asking their family members or friends to help them with the transaction. If you are having trouble selling your car, you might consider finding someone to help you sell it for you.

You will find several different people willing to help you sell your car for you online. You can usually find several different people interested in working with you and help you sell your car. If you are in need of additional funds, this is a great way to generate the funds needed to pay off your debt.

The insurance company will also be happy to receive your car at a cheaper price. Most companies offer lower rates to individuals who transport their vehicles using wreckers. Some companies even offer lower rates to those who use car wreckers. By using this method, you are able to spend less on insurance as well as having your vehicle transported more quickly.

Car wreckers are becoming more popular as a way to help you get rid of your car. It is important to realize that most car wreckers are dedicated to helping customers and there is no reason why you should not use them if you find yourself in a similar situation. If you need to sell your car, you will find plenty of companies that will help you through the process and if you use the services of car wreckers, you will be able to save money while helping others too.


Why do we need a re.volution?

Why do we need a re.volution?
Leaders of the arts and cultural ecology want an end to trying to do too much, with too little, too often on their own.
The human and financial cost of this over-extension and under-capitalisation is increasing, driven by accelerating change and uncertainty in the current operating environment. If the UK’s ‘creative core’ – a recognised major national asset – is to thrive and increase its contribution to the nation’s social and economic sustainability these systemic issues need to be resolved fast.

Despite many achievements, past efforts aimed at addressing these challenges (Such as Arts Council England’s ‘Thrive’, ‘Sustain’ and Cultural Leadership Programmes), which have been well documented over a considerable period of time (see MMM’s launch provocation in 2004 ‘Mission, Money, Models’, MMM’s 2007 report ‘Towards a Healthy Ecology of Arts and Culture’ and MMM’s 2010 ‘Capital Matters’ report have not delivered a consistent step change in individual and organisational capacity across the ecology nor built long-term resilience. Added to this current infrastrcuture for supporting business and organisational development is eroding, fragmented and patchy, and disconnected from the deep roots of expertise in the sector and best practice beyond.

MMM’s research over four cycles of work found that current issues facing the professional arts and cultural sector today with regards to business and organisational development are

lack of expertise to help identify and better deploy key assets
lack of expertise in key areas such as strategic finance and implementation of new revenue generating ideas
inadequate supply of change and/or development capital
insufficiently effective existing toolkits for help in organisational and business development due to disregard of user-centred design or insufficiently focused on the specificities of mission-led creative businesses
over emphasis on one size fits all approaches
insufficient support for peer networks that would allow knowledge transfer within and between sectors
lack of support in developing international markets
lack of holistic and systemic thinking
re.volution aimed to create a simple, but flexible and rich solution to this ‘wicked problem’*: a national (over time international) peer learning network which would draw together a passionate group of thinkers and doers from the arts, the broader cultural and creative industries and beyond, who wanted to transform the way organisations use their resources to support the creation and experience of great art. Offering an easy way in to tackling complex issues, it ained provide high quality, consistent, relevant learning, which had system-wide impact and value for money for peers and other stakeholders.

* “Wicked problem” is a phrase originally used in social planning to describe a problem that is difficult or impossible to solve because of incomplete, contradictory, and changing requirements that are often difficult to recognize. Moreover, because of complex interdependencies, the effort to solve one aspect of a wicked problem may reveal or create other problems. It seems an appropriate term for the organisational development challenges faced by the arts and culture sector.

Our Themes
Our name – Mission Models Money – recognised that these three aspects of any organisation – mission (programmes), model (organisational capacity) and money (capital structure) – are intimately related. Therefore any change in one inevitably has an impact – planned or unplanned – on others. Action is therefore needed on all three fronts at the same time to enable cultural organisations to flourish.
re.volution’s re.source library and the expertise on offer through the network was themed to pick up on the importance of this ‘iron triangle’ and the necessity for organisations to continuously adapt and evolve to the unprecedented challenges and opportunities presented by the current operating environment.



What was re.volution?
re.volution was a peer learning network which aimed to radically reconfigure business & organisational development support for cultural and creative practice in the UK.
Whilst primarily targeting leaders working in small and medium sized organisations, we welcomed people who were sole traders, acting on behalf of consortia or from larger organisations and were keen to encourage membership from across the spectrum of business models in use – social enterprise, community interest companies, cooperatives, charities etc.

The network was designed to help people solve the problems of trying to do too much, with too little, too often on their own. Free of charge it brought peers together from all over the UK and across the arts and cultural ecology, including museums and galleries, to share critical thinking and practical solutions.

A bespoke on-line and off-line learning programme was especially curated for the network which included a re.source library offering a range of tools and approaches relevant to the four core themes of the progamme:

renew mission
reconfigure business model
revise approach to money
Leadership, culture and values
re.volution also offered a brokering platform supported via the website and by the re.volution team whereby each peer offered up to three days of their time in any twelve month period to help fellow peers address challenges or work through opportunities based on those four themes.

Membership of the network was also available which allows access to the resource library.

The network was designed by MMM, in collaboration with Industry Lead bodies and many others working across the arts and cultural ecology. During the start up phase of the initiative (2011 – 2014), MMM’s role was to:

broker all the relationships in the network in order to ensure relevance and fit,
design and deliver the on and off line learning programme and resource library and
gather a range of new data through the network, especially around financial issues, that will enable arts and cultural organisations to develop their resilience.
A second stage of the network was also designed which will offered peers the opportunity to go on to deliver their business and organisational change goals with the best, most appropriate, most value for money expertise available in the market and share re.volution’s methodology and learning internationally.

After the start-up phase, which will ran until 2014, it was MMM’s intention to pass responsibility for the further growth and development of the network to interested parties in the sector.


How Funders can encourage collaborative working

How Funders can encourage collaborative working
Date: 26/10/10
Author: Clare Cooper

Over the last two years, MMM has been supporting six groups of arts and cultural organisations in Scotland and the North East of England who have been piloting new ways of collaborating. Learning from the pilots has been turned into a suite of materials, the first of which Fuelling the Necessary Revolution has just been published. It has been written especially for public and private funders in order to persuade them to encourage and support more collaboration in the sector. This extract summarises what they can do to help.

Observations and reflections from the pilot participants and recommendations made in the wider literature of non-profit collaboration[1] offer a clear set of interventions that funders could consider in order to encourage and support collaborative working. All of these offer the opportunity for funders to take a leadership role in enabling new ways of thinking and new ways of doing which will evolve the way creative practice is valued, organised and financed.

Connecting potential collaborators through convening power As well as financial resources, funders have significant ‘convening power’ that can be marshaled to catalyse collaborative working. Creating opportunities for individuals and organisations to meet and explore new collaboration ideas through ‘bootcamps’ or other more traditional kinds of seminar and conference-style events can rapidly build new communities of interest and networks around areas of common interest or concern. Such events could be organised to enable participants to identify for themselves a possible focus for a collaboration, for example through ‘open space’ approaches, or be structured to attract those interested in something very specific, such as fundraising in a particular locality, or something universally relevant such as resource scarcity and climate change.

Building on existing assets and encouraging knowledge transfer Funders could identify where collaborative working is already happening well or beginning to emerge, and provide support to enable it to grow further or faster. They could incentivise knowledge transfer by financing peer-led knowledge networks that enable organisation leaders experienced in collaborative working to share best practice with others starting out. This would help to avoid the ‘re-inventing the wheel’ syndrome, and at the same time build the field in ways that make it easier for this way of working to become more mainstream. As two pilot participants remarked: ‘We are always collaborating, bringing either individual creative people together or collaborating with other organisations, and in the last 12 months we have had half a dozen collaborations on different scales… there is an awful lot of know-how there that could be harnessed’, and ‘The message for funders that I would give is to fund the points of collaboration that already exist or emerge, rather than putting in place a structure, that you hope will deliver that… if they work harder at seeking out at what points of intersection there already are and directing their funding to that, I think that would be a cost effective way of encouraging more collaboration.’

Supporting the costs of technical assistance (TA) Funders need to be creative and flexible in how they approach, allocate and distribute grants to support the true costs of collaboration, especially the different kinds of TA needed at different stages, which will be unique to each collaboration. MMM offered each pilot £50,000 to use in whatever way was appropriate to develop the early stage of their collaboration. It was not directive in how the money should be spent, nor in which TA provider was hired or at what cost. It used its network to help identify potential suppliers of TA where it could and advised, if asked, on commissioning documents and briefs. This supportive but unobtrusive role was appreciated by pilot participants and helped to create an ethos of mutual problem solving. Releasing TA support in alignment with the three stages proposed in section 8 (Evaluating opportunities for collaboration, Spotting barriers to collaboration and Tailoring solutions to tear down the barriers to collaborating), with an emphasis on supporting stages two and three, could encourage groups to ensure that the right levels of commitment to the shared vision are present and able to drive the collaboration forward. However, it is important that funders have a realistic expectation of the pace at which the collaboration can move forward.

Support for the pilots was enabled by a partnership of three funders, The Northern Rock Foundation, Arts Council England and the then Scottish Arts Council. Similar funder collaboratives are being set up in America[2]with the aim of helping not for profits develop shared back-office professional functions, such as financial oversight, joint purchasing agreements, partnerships or joint ventures in shared enterprises, and, where appropriate, full mergers of established organisations. More funding partnerships of this kind in the UK would help fuel more collaborative endeavours.

MMM would advocate that funders reflect on the learning from the pilot projects and critique their own CQAs to collaborate, both with their peers in the public and private funding community and with others, including those they fund.

MMM’s 2007 provocation ‘The Art of Living’[3] proposed a variety of collaborative responses that public and private funders could make to tackling the arts and cultural sectors endemic overextension and undercapitalisation. These continue to be in urgent need of response, even more so in the light of current operating environment. Collaborative strategies by funders prioritising the building of financial resilience in the arts and cultural sector at this time for example could have significant impact on the sector’s ability to survive and thrive in the short term and could effect change much more quickly than individual funders working alone.[4]

About re.volution
Leaders of the arts and cultural ecology want an end to trying to do too much, with too little, too often on their own.
The human and financial cost of this over-extension and under-capitalisation is increasing, driven by accelerating change and uncertainty in the external operating environment. re.volution aimed to help resolve these systemic issues by utilising the passion, experience and expertise of art and culture’s greatest asset. Its people.


Letter from Kabul – Part 1 of 2

Letter from Kabul – Part 1 of 2
Date: 17/12/10
Author: admin

This is part one of a two-part guest post by Paul Smith, Director of the British Council in Kabul, Afghanistan. Thank you to Paul for taking the time to share insights from such a remarkable position and place. The image below is one taken from the Kabul Museum

I suppose if there’s a British cultural attache in Afghanistan, well, as Director of the British Council here in Kabul, that proud position is probably mine. But, despite a lifelong commitment to the efficacy of international cultural relations, even I wouldn’t care to bandy the cultural attache title around with too much brio. The guffaws of disbelief would be inevitable. Culture? Arts to cheer up a warzone? Some dilettante offering to an Afghanistan craving baseline development in every sector and suffering at the depths of every poverty, health and education indicator list? Most reactions would bellow that there’s no space for cultural entertainment and fripperies in this environment of hard-graft nation building. So, focus on the things that matter and get real about the things that so obviously don’t. Don’t insult a traumatised people with your laughably peripheral agendas.

With the British Council I’ve spent 27 years trying to stimulate cultural collaboration in societies as different as Kano and Rangoon, Mumbai and Berlin, Cairo and Dhaka. But I’ll confess that promoting the cultural agenda in Afghanistan, a terrain of continuous high alert security, hostility and mortality, certainly does focus the mind and force the issue of relevance. Even as I’m writing this aesthetic piece of punditry, I’m sitting at a rickety table in the desert dust of a UK military basecamp in Helmand, with helicopters hovering above and UK troops psyching themselves up for their next mission over a fag and a plastic cup of tea. At moments like this, I’m inclined to keep my latest Afghan contemporary dance strategy out of sight in my back pocket. This context unquestionably prioritises the issues and strips out the irrelevancies. If cultural attaches can advocate and activate the relevance and validity of cultural engagement and cultural relations here, they could surely do this anywhere.

9/11 –as too often now – was the iconic date. Amongst the many things that changed was that culture moved from the feelgood outer nimbus of international relations to find itself at the core. Culture became the primary determinant of global interaction, with politics virtually a subset to this. Even the writing of history textbooks began to change. Previously the chapter on culture appeared as a final obligatory afterthought and followed the heavy duty chapters on politics, constitution, economics and commerce. Now arts and culture became an organic part of the narrative, rather than an add-on. Culture entered the biology of geopolitics.

At the turn of the millennium, planes were slamming into corporate skyscrapers and armies invading foreign fields due to mutual distrust and bigoted, misinformed revulsion against globally disseminated cultures and their constituent faiths, sociologies and value systems. The dominant worldwide pull between, on the one hand, the forces of globalisation and, on the other, the myriad secessions and retractions against the global was a pull that was more cultural than commercial. Whilst politics and economics headed macro, with a welcoming homogenisation and consolidation, culture, in a not unhealthy equal and opposite reaction, headed heterogeneously and dislocatingly micro. The new challenge was the confirmation of common values but alive with the celebration of diverse ones. This dichotomy, this demographic global-local pull seems – from my desert viewpoint in southern Afghanistan – to be even more acute in a warzone of conflicting determinations than anywhere else. We must, it seems, ironically sanctify the sickening Goebbels cliche dictum; when we hear the word gun, we must reach for our culture.

What is happening here in Afghanistan? Essentially diversities of geographically aligned peoples are reasserting their common sense of cultural identity after decades – centuries – of ravaging invasion, of ravaging intervention, even of ravaging goodwill and help. Over the past three decades in particular, external imposition and internal revolt have destroyed economic and social infrastructure along with professional and human resource, and left Afghanistan one of the most poverty-ridden and least developed countries in the world. In 2001 the government and people of Afghanistan commenced the climb back to self-reliant democratic nationhood, resisting extremist interference and determined to improve socioeconomic indicators increasingly to assure future stabilisation and security.

This is not just a developmental and socioeconomic enterprise. Reinforcing national cultural identity and strengthening the professional and educational capacity of the Afghan peoples are critical to this determination. Despite war and dereliction, Afghanistan remains a vibrant conflux of ethnic identities with an equal diversity of urban, rural and provincial governance and social traditions. The path to new nationhood will be as much a cultural as a constitutional and developmental mission. The role of cultural relations, internally amongst the Afghan people and externally within the family of nations, will be critical to Afghanistan’s future stability, well-being and international positioning.

End-2014 will be a critical focal juncture for Afghanistan. By then most NATO combative forces will have departed, handing over responsibility for security and insurgency suppression to the Afghan national security forces and the Afghan police. Though the international development agenda will continue beyond the transition, the pressure is now on to enable Afghanistan to be independent and self-reliant by 2014 across all major governance and socioeconomic sectors.

2011-14 international interventions must strengthen infrastructure and human resource to ensure Afghan capacity to sustain security and to win the battle of ideas amongst the Afghan populus for a future democratic and well-functioning society and economy. This society must be founded on a robust sense of diverse but integrated nationhood and shared cultural meaning and pride. In whatever ways international media and public perception may ossify brand-Afghanistan into a warzone, a terrain of terror, a developmental right-off.

Afghanistan actually is 30 million ordinary men, women and kids who live for their families, their friends and their faith and who are proud of their vibrant ethnic diversity, their mature social identity and their astounding cultural legacy which, despite recent suppression, is again ripely contemporary. Afghans have learned over millennia to sustain their values of life and livelihood despite being the geographical nexus of other peoples’ imperial ambitions. Militarism is only the surface wave motions to the deeper swells of the Afghan cultural story.

Many of the major bullies of ancient, mediaeval and more recent history were bruised and buffeted on this Afghan crossroads between the Indus Valley, the Fertile Crescent and Europa. Alexander to-ed and fro-ed here more than anywhere else. Genghis Khan and Tamerlane fought some of their toughest campaigns in these valleys and mountains. Babur, the founder of Mughal India, was returned to Afghan Ghazni for burial. Victorian Britain three times suffered ignominy in war. 80’s Soviet imperialism is iconically rendered by the graveyard of a thousand abandoned tanks, dustblown beneath the Kabul hills. And how will the footnotes of Western history books, in 50 years time, describe current good intent in Kandahar and Helmand? The second part of this post will be available on the blog early next year