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TTBrixton: Economy and Business Working Group Meeting – Friday 7th March 2008
Where: The Melanin Partnership at Piano House
- Mamading Ceesay
- Duncan Law
- Sue Bell
- John Walker
- Jody Boehnert
- Hannah Lewis
- Josh Ryan-Collins
- Robert Geddis
Remit for the TTB Economy and Business working group
It was agreed that the remit includes:
- Economics and Business Chapter of Brixton’s Energy Descent Action Plan
- Conference 19 June
- Other economics-related events
- Community currency, LETS + outreach to local business
- Economic liaison with Lambeth e.g. encouraging local procurement
Economics and Business Chapter of Brixton EDAP
Each working group has its own chapter of the Brixton Energy Descent Action Plan. An EDAP Primer (from Melbourne) can be found online and example EDAPs are at transitionculture.org.
An EDAP should include:
- Definition of the problem
- Vision of the future
Besides localisation of the economy, the emphasis could also be put on Equity and Fair Trade which is the One Planet Living economic principle.
Lambeth Town Hall is booked for 19 June – during the Love London festival 1-21 June (formerly London Sustainability Weeks). Print deadline is 25 March.
- We need to be clear about who they are and set out to attract them.
- The Festival will bring in a London-wide audience (though it will also mean lots of competition and potential “fatigue”) but we want to have plenty of locals.
- We can also reach a wider audience via web-linked talks, particularly with big name speakers.
- Extending the programme into the evening (with film/s + summary of the day?) could reach a different crowd.
- Also needs to be clear. It was agreed that the conference should span from macro to local issues, with strong emphasis on the local and tangible, leading to real action.
- Local is key – partner with local traders, local banks etc?
- Link to history of Brixton?
- Bring in State of the Borough report (Jessica Curry?) to focus on statistics about Lambeth – emphasise that although financially deprived, it is rich in resources
- In discussing community currency, attention must be given to the community (who and where) as well as the currency
Should use a clear “story” to express the intention. This would begin with a macro-level overview, move into a local perspective, then onto possible action. It would also move generally from speakers to structured interaction (games) to more self-organised interaction (workshops).
An outline structure was sketched:
- 2 key speakers to open.
- Structured interaction e.g. NEF’s “Plugging the Leaks” exercise.
- An “event currency” that would enable attendees to buy lunch from local traders (suggested by Mamading based on “Lime” currency at World Summit on Free Information Structures at Limehouse Town Hall)
- Catering in a tent in Central Square (designated an “events space” by Lambeth) – food by Brixton Tea Party / Reclaim Your Food
- A “bright” speaker to perk people up after lunch.
- A game e.g. from NEF / Edgar Cahn’s timebank game / Polyopoly urban cultivation game created by Agents of Change Architecture / Climate Bingo created for the Climate Talk project
- Workshops – facilitated by panel discussion speakers (or Open Space / World Cafe / Sociocracy?) – games could be merged with these. Also include successful case studies of community currencies.
- Panel discussion – summing up workshops and setting future agenda.
Possible speakers suggested (apologies for omissions / misspellings – please amend / add!):
- David Boyle (author of Funny Money and The Little Money Book)
- John Rogers (Community currency specialist – could do a workshop)
- Jerry Mander (Alternatives to Economic Globalisation: A Better World is Possible)
- Nigel Topping â€“ creator of the Totnes Pound
- George Monbiot (activist and author)
- Clive Splash
- Tom Green
- Molly Scott Cato (alternative economics specialist and Senior Lecturer in Social Economy at University of Wales Institute, Cardiff)
- Gill Seyfang (academic specialising in community currency and carbon quotas)
- Liz Cox or Stewart Wallis (New Economics Foundation)
- Jessica Curry (London Borough of Lambeth)
- Polly Griffiths
- David Fleming (founder of The Lean Economy Connection and inventor of the Tradeable Energy Quota (TEQ))
- Mark Prescott (RSA Carbon Limited)
- Someone from the Lambeth Savings & Credit Union?
Speakers need to be booked and hospitality may need to be arranged for some of them.
- Professsor Lord Stern
- Paul Hawken (author of Natural Capitalism and Blessed Unrest)
- Lester Brown (Earth Policy Institute; author of Plan B 3.0)
- Frances Moore Lappe (founder of Small Planet Institute; author of many books including most recently Getting A Grip and Democracy’s Edge, most famously Diet for a Small Planet)
Other economics-related events
- John Rogers talk 7 April – possibly double-act with David Boyle
- “Money as Debt” film â€“ show before April event?
- Possible talk from Matt Prescott (RSA Carbon Limited)
Community currency, LETS + outreach to local business
A potential new local currency was proposed which would be spendable both with local traders / shops and as LETS. Lambeth Savings & Credit Union would be a suitable sterling guarantor.
The scheme could be funded by e.g. – a small transaction fee – a “brick a month” fee / other form of demurrage charge
Shops would be certified with a “badge” of local procurement – possibly launched at the conference – which could be extended onto locally manufactured shopping bags etc. (Leamington Spa’s “shop local” scheme was mentioned as an example)
Mamading mentioned that he’s been working on the concept of a “community engine” (online but with access points in the real world too), sociocratically organized, which could match local needs to local resources, including shared resources such as a car pool, tool library etc. It would support a community currency.
Brokerage / outreach / education / motivation (Sue) would be necessary to match demand to supply, and ensure a good diverse spread of sectors, skills and goods (avoiding the “30 masseurs and no plumbers” problem). This can include both reskilling, and reclassifying things people already do as activities of economic value. The aim is to keep money flowing / circulating locally by incentivising so that “when people have earned they want to spend, and when they have spent they want to earn”.
Mamading explained about the “Dunbar number” (which is less than 150 and represents the maximum number of relationships a person can keep track of) as an organising principle of communities.
Consider what people need / spend on, e.g. council rent – could part of this be paid in community currency?
For outreach to business, we need an “offer”: the Oil Vulnerability Audit (already in practice in Totnes) fits the bill. Combine with training young people to carry these out via YES Ventures
Economic liaison with Lambeth Council
Mamading raised concerns that the council is not committed to buying and recruiting local. Strategies were discussed for building local procurement into policy. It is against EU law to directly specify local recruitment or restrict tendering to local businesses. Josh suggested “social clauses” could work in this way by stating criteria in terms of environmental impact.
Josh and nef are experienced in procurement issues and on engaging local authorities about them.
Sue suggested promoting local currency to Lambeth as a way of managing pension problems.
Mamading proposed supporting the existing lobbying efforts for the creation of a Green Enterprise Zone by Brixton Green
To be added by Mamading / all…
An on-line lets trading system has been built for brixton and is ready to use http://london.letslink.org I suggest you all have a look at the system and consider whether you want to use it. I also suggest you consider what the shortcomings of the system are (e.g. does it support the use of physical brick currency) and suggest improvements for the next version of the system. Whether brixton uses this in the short or not, it is a system that is being launched london wide and we would be foolish to ignore integration with a london-wide lets system. I think the earlier we look at compatibility issues the better.
This will be on Monday 31st March same time and place.