Economy and Business Working Group Meeting – Thursday 17 April 2008

TTBrixton: Where: The Melanin Partnership at Piano House

When: 6:30pm

Present:

Sue Bell
Jody Boehnert
Mamading Ceesay
Duncan Law
Hannah Lewis
Apologies:

Robert Geddis
Josh Ryan-Collins
Balbir Singh
John Walker
Saskia Walzel
GROWING LOCAL MONEY EVENT

The Growing Local Money event with John Rogers on 7 April attracted 32 attendees. A key theme was the importance of designing local currencies as “targeted tools” – identifying not only the overarching aim (like building resilience to prepare for peak oil) but very specific objectives that match up local needs with local skills and surplus / underused resources. These will be different for every town / area – so the currency (or more than one, to target specific problems) needs to be designed in collaboration with the people who will use it to ensure it will work for them.

LOCAL CURRENCY DESIGN

7-9 people at the event registered an interest in Brixton LETS. The next step is to find out whether their interest is in trading and / or in organising the LETS scheme – and to involve them (particularly organisers) in developing the system. A series of currency design workshops was proposed – possibly based on John Rogers’ new Currency Design Manual – to build community ownership of the currency/ies.

A Survey Monkey will be sent to the whole mailing list to find out who is interested in being involved in the local currency design process – including both LETS and paper currency (which could be the same thing). This could be done both pre-conference (at the same time as publicising the conference) and post-conference (to include new people who come to the conference and business evening). It was suggested that John Walker could be asked if he was willing to take on the job of sending out and collating the surveys.

The conference will include a “taster” currency design workshop, followed by a series of workshops through the summer, aiming to launch a small-scale “prototype” currency at the Unleashing in Sept-Oct. (The Totnes Pound was launched in 3 stages, beginning small.)

Various ways of matching people / traders up and facilitating local currency transactions were discussed – events (e.g. skillswap or Business Exchange – matching up businesses’ waste / unused capacity with needs); a directory / magazine; or a website. Mamading volunteered to set up a website where traders could advertise and possibly transactions could be done online. However, a key issue to be resolved is how much management the system will require. It was generally agreed that systems where each transaction must be administered by a “time-broker” are too cumbersome and limited in scale – users should be able to trade autonomously.

LOCAL ECONOMY DAY Thurs 19 June

PROGRAMME

David Boyle and Molly Scott Cato (author of Market Schmarket) are confirmed as speakers.

Charlie Davis (Green Island Economics) was mentioned as a possible workshop facilitator. It was also suggested that he and Sue could run a pre-conference workshop (as Sue cannot be at the conference).

Jody and Hannah will run a workshop (at the conference) for communication designers, aiming to develop ways of representing key ideas from the conference visually.

Jody will approach some “big names” such as Lester Brown, Paul Hawken and Michael Shuman (author of The Smallmart Revolution) to speak via weblink.

The overall programme was outlined as follows:

10-11am: 2-3 speakers including David Boyle, Molly Scott Cato (or one of them could kick off the afternoon).

The first speaker should give an overview of the present money system (fiat currency, money as debt), current events that link it to people’s lives (the credit crunch), and why unlimited material growth is impossible. Jonathan Porritt was suggested for this role, but his book “Capitalism as if the world matters” and his work at Forum for the Future is generally focused on big business and doesn’t put much emphasis on the local [I have a copy of the book, will bring to the next meeting – Hannah]. We would need to check out whether the kinds of things he would say would be compatible with the other speakers and the rest of the day.

11-12: Workshops – Plugging the Leaks, Growing Local Money, etc

12-12.30pm: John Rogers – local currency success stories Philippe Castaing – Brixton Green

12.30-1.30pm: Lunch

1.30-5pm:

15mins speaker

Open Space session 1

Tea

Open Space session 2

Wrap up

[I may not have got it all – please correct or add details to the above]

CATERING

Shane of Brixton Tea Party has been approached re catering in the square. However this would cost £4 per person and people would have to eat outside.

Alternatively it was proposed that we set up a deal with local cafes to accept Bricks for one day only (exchangeable for pounds afterwards). This seems to make sense as it will give users a taster of using local currency, and also raise awareness among these local businesses and act as a trial run for the currency launch.

The Local Business Evening will require catering as people will be hungry after a day at work! We will have to pay for the in-house caterers at the Town Hall, unless an alternative venue is chosen?

FUNDING

We need to decide between £10 or £20 as an entrance fee. There was agreement that there should be a small discount (£2?) for locals (SW9, SW2, SW4) which would also act as an incentive for people to give us their addresses!

LOCAL PUBLICITY

Posters will be up by 20 May.

We will approach the Comms Group to handle PR.

Hannah has been working on a prospectus for local businesses – introducing local economic issues, what TTB can offer them, and events invitation. This is now http://www.transitiontownbrixton.org/2009/01/local-business-prospectus/ – to be edited by all…

Mamading will approach Philippe Castaing and Devon Thomas with the draft prospectus to find out whether it would work for their members.

[Hannah adds – I’ve approached Stuart Horton and James Webster re quotes on local resilience, but Stuart wasn’t really convinced – he painted a grim picture of business in the market, saying it was getting tougher to make a living. I made the mistake of mentioning local currency – he was very sceptical about whether it would be accepted or could help. He seemed interested in the idea that it could match up local resources with local needs, but I couldn’t persuade him to say something nice for the leaflet! James seems willing to help but is away in Cuba till 5 May. But I found a couple of nice quotes from Philippe here - http://www.londonsdc.org/londonleaders/profile.aspx?ID=1 - maybe we could ask him? And/or Devon Thomas / John Gordon?]

LAMBETH LIAISON

It would be good to get Lambeth’s Economic Development team at the conference. Mamading will liaise with Jessica Currie to find out who needs to be invited, and also ask for a “round table” meeting with them on local economics (before or after the conference).

Officers may be more inclined to take it seriously and attend if someone from Lambeth opens and closes the event – Lib Peck was good in this role at a previous event.

UPCOMING EVENTS

Peak Oil Primer with Adam Dadeby, Wednesday 30 April, 7pm, Room 8 Lambeth Town Hall.

Money As Debt screening, Monday 12 May 7pm, Myth Bar, The Hope and Anchor, Acre Lane. Duncan will approach Shaun Chamberlin to do a Q&A afterwards.

ACTION POINTS

Duncan:

Approach Shaun Chamberlin re Q&A for Money as Debt, 12 May
Approach Lib Peck re opening and closing the conference
Ask John Walker if willing to send out and collate surveys to mailing list
Approach Jonathan Porritt as speaker?
Sue:

Contact Charlie Davis re possibility of co-facilitating a workshop before the conference (when he returns from Thailand)
Start reading list at http://www.transitiontownbrixton.org/2009/01/reading-list/
Jody:

Contact possible weblink speakers
Mamading:

Approach Philippe and Devon with draft prospectus
Liaise with Jessica Curry re inviting / meeting with Lambeth’s Economic Development team
Hannah:

Contact Stuart Horton / James Webster / other local traders for quotes for prospectus
Upcoming action points…

Put together questions for Survey Monkey (who?)

Approach local cafes re trading in Bricks on conference day (Hannah, Jody)

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