REconomy Project Day Preview
This Friday is REconomy Project Day, of course, one of two prequel conference days leading up to the main Transition Conference through the weekend. For those interested in undertaking a major re-do of the current economic regime, which is probably everyone reading this post, it promises a full programme of learning and sharing, buzzing with new ideas and creative energy.
With many sessions occurring in parallel, one will have to choose carefully and buddy up with colleagues to get the most out of the day. Each of the sessions will be audio recorded and the files will be posted after the event, however probably not a bad idea to bring your own recorder. My own strategy will be to attend sessions I know would be valuable to me in the work I’m doing and record those that would be valuable for others in Totnes, unable to make the trip to London.
No dilemma to start the day, the morning is plenary. I predict some constellation activity early on, leading into the Inspiration presentations where representatives of various enterprises will share their stories. They’re all going to be interesting, but I’m particularly interested in what Ugo Vallauri has to say about the Restart Project, which focuses on re-use and repair of electrical goods. Also, Martin Abraham will talk about the Community Draught Busters in Brixton, which I know will be relevant for many looking to extend Transition Streets projects into ongoing livelihoods. (I’m also looking forward to the Brixton Belsize tour on Monday.)
Just before lunch are the How To sessions, and this is where some difficult decisions must be made. At the moment, I’m torn between “how to set up a bakery” and “how to set up a crowd funding bid.” There are several people in Totnes interested in starting up bakeries and it would be nice to bring back the knowledge that Janet Barnes from the Dunbar Bakery will be sharing. At the same time, Theresa Burton, co-founder of BuzzBnk will be breaking down the ins and outs of crowdfunding. In fact, this session, coupled with the banking strategic workshop later in the day, might be one of the most valuable on the whole day for a whole host of reasons. There's no relocalising your economy without relocalising your financial system. With local banks or their equivalent virtually non-existent in this country, developing a "polyculture" of financial capital sources is key, and crowdfunding will have a foundational role to play.
After lunch, a Re-imagining the High Street session that could prove to be an effective community organising tool. We're about to do this in Totnes, where we have a high proportion of absentee landlords, local shops closing, and corporate chains moving in. Keeping High Streets vibrant and independent means organising to oppose corporate colonisation, while simultaneously creating the conditions for new locally-owned enterprises to start up and re-occupy the vacancies. Perhaps the Re-imagining the High Street process can help with one or both of these needs.
The Strategic workshops at the end of the day pose another difficult decision. For me the decision has already been made. I’m presenting in the Social Incubator session along with Jonathan Robinson from the Hub. I’ll be sharing our experience in setting up an incubator in Totnes, a smallish market town in rural Devon, while Jonathan will be talking about the big city Hub. Our vision for the Totnes incubator is to help foster new business formation to repopulate the High Street and beyond, and we'll share our plans on how we intend to do it. Meanwhile, the rest of the strategy workshops all seem too valuable to miss - Economic Evaluation, Transition Bank, Living in the gift, Creating an Economic Transition Strategy, and Community ownership, development and management of assets.
After all that, a very full day, a welcome break in the bar where I’ll be scrambling to catch up with what I’ve missed, reflect on what I didn’t, and find out what everyone else thought. See you there.
Images: Brixton Draught Busters, TTB; Ross Baxter making delicious French macaroons, Dunbar Bakery