What would the world look like if humans lived harmoniously with nature rather than creating environmental mayhem?
What strategies can be employed to overcome the entrenched power of big business, big banks, and big government?
We’ll dig into these questions in Earth, Culture, Economy, an open course at Schumacher College led by Helena Norberg-Hodge, Stephan Harding, and Satish Kumar. Our approach will be broad and holistic and we will consider a range of themes from the perspective of both the global North and South, including:
• How to measure real progress • Putting food and farming at the center of the local economy • Tackling climate change through localising trade • The balance between urban and rural • The spiritual and psychological benefits of connecting to nature and community • Healthcare in a life-based economy • Resolving the roots of racial, ethnic and religious conflict • Restoring democracy through localisation
These events will present a global perspective on localisation and equip you with practical strategies for supporting genuine social, ecological, and economic renewal wherever you may be. We look forward to seeing you there!
The new International Alliance for Localization (IAL) aims to connect a growing network of individuals and organizations dedicated to exploring new approaches to today’s ecological, social, and economic expanding international dialogue and exchange. It will provide a forum for cross-cultural support and collaboration and have the potential to be a united and powerful force for positive international change.
Its alternative to our multiple crises? Localisation. Rebuilding local economies is a solution multiplier—tackling our most pressing environmental, social and economic crises, while creating the conditions for increased wellbeing.
The official public launch of the IAL will take place on November 8th in New York City in the Great Hall of the Cooper Union, which has been a bastion of free speech and a witness to the flow of history and ideas for more than a century – a platform for some of the earliest workers’ rights campaigns and for the birth of the NAACP, the women’s suffrage movement.
It will be a day of thought-provoking and constructive talks on our multiple crises and how we can solve them.
Check the website for more information about topics and the roster of international speakers, including Chris Hedges, Laura Flanders, Charles Eisenstein, Michael Shuman, Manish Jain, Bayo Akomolafe, Judy Wicks and Helena Norberg-Hodge. Registerbefore Sept. 20th for discounted early bird tickets. Ticket prices include membership to the IAL. Scholarships are also available. For more info please email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Those interested in ‘digging more deeply’ into the localisation movement are invited to make space in their calendar for a five-day Schumacher College course with Swedish-born localisation pioneerHelena Norberg-Hodge, who has worked in diverse cultures around the world and is almost uniquely able to address localisation from the perspective of both the global North and South.
We remember her organisation’s promotion – in Britain – of the ‘new’ farmers markets which she had seen working well in the United States, and other aspects of the local food movement in the early 80s. For the last few years she has been ‘spreading the word’ in Australia and America and has recently been invited to speak in China, Japan, Korea, Italy, Austria, Sweden and Turkey – at Taksim Square.
The course will examine the multiple benefits of shifting away from the corporate-led global economy, towards diverse and localised eco-economies rooted to place. It will survey many of the inspiring, community-based initiatives already underway, and consider policy-level changes needed for those initiatives to flourish and spread.
Links between the many seemingly disconnected crises we face – from global warming to financial instability, from the epidemic of depression to ethnic conflict – will be explored. This five-day course looks at some of the most difficult questions facing the localisation movement and will include lectures, interactive discussion, documentary films, and participatory experiential exercises.
The Schumacher Center for a New Economics sends news of this year’s Left Forum annual gathering in New York, which will be exploring ways of confronting climate change and global economic crisis and creating a more equitable and ecologically resilient world.
Such a world will require economic institutions which respond to local and regional needs and conditions, decentralising control of land, natural resources, industry, and financing to serve the people living in an area in an equitable way.
An infrastructure that encourages local production of food goods and services for local needs will be needed; the tools for building strong regional economies include:
community land trusts,
worker-owned and worker-managed businesses,
non-profit local banks,
and regional currencies
Farming: the cornerstone of strong regional economies
Successful farmers operating at an appropriate scale are the cornerstones of strong regional economies. They care for the soil and water, produce healthy food for diverse markets, employ others and support themselves. However, the current valuation of land makes it nearly impossible for farmers to capitalize a business, sustain a livelihood, build equity, and still afford secure long-term access to land.
In our globalized economy the tools that supported local production for local consumption have been lost and in a system where financial tools, education, and community expectations are turned toward the global, the convenient, and the cheap, how can regional “import-replacing” businesses be helped to establish themselves and succeed?
Building a responsible movement for a new economy will require planning how to create new jobs without increased growth. One approach is a strategy of import-replacement, with more labor intensive, smaller batch production, transported over shorter distances.
The goal would be to create more jobs, but not more “stuff,” with a smaller carbon footprint overall. This is an ambitious objective, but it is necessary if we are to transition to an economic system that is equitable and sustainable.
Anna Watson’s Localise West Midlands blog about The Green Economy and Local Job Creation, reported that – as the oil supply peaks – the innovation, manufacture, marketing and repairing of products will become more economic at a local level. Small scale, sustainable employment opportunities will be created, encouraging local resourcefulness and a thriving local economy.
A set of Grade II listed buildings, “The Old Print Works” on Moseley Rd, Balsall Heath, opposite the fine Edwardian Moseley Road Baths and Library, offers a historic, but versatile, low-carbon and fun space in the heart of Balsall Heath that gives a vibrant community endless reasons to meet, learn, collaborate and grow:
“For people who want to sustain themselves and their community by learning, using and sharing practical knowledge and making-skills, we provide a unique and beautiful space of local significance, with a creative and welcoming atmosphere that enables everyone to be more self-sufficient and resilient.”
Only two miles from the city centre on the A435, one of Birmingham’s best bus routes, the Old Print Works provides work-space, including studios and workshops, at a modest rent.
At the rear, tenants’ shared resources include gallery and exhibition space, a reception area, parking space and an attractive courtyard.
Pottery, textiles and furniture are produced there. Services include metal-welding, music tuition, photography courses, compressor repairs, wood and metal workshop for children, see http://www.oldprintworks.org/makers/.
The final sentence in David Bailey’s Post article suggests that “a small slice of that £700 million pot that the LEP reckons will be created by the city centre Enterprise Zone could go towards funding a new city site for the Markets”.
“Consulting widely in its first year is probably a good thing to do in setting priorities for the city and beyond, especially if the LEP is to develop a consensual approach to economic development . . . more action and less talking would help on that front, but that isn’t exactly easy when the LEPs have no real resources, limited powers and at best an influencing role. The failure for example to hand powers and resources over skills to the LEPs has been a key mistake in government policy . . . giving LEPs some real powers and the ability to raise finance would help. That in turn could be linked to the willingness of the LEPs to cooperate to get things done at the ‘right’ local scale.”
A series of seminars is planned, giving further input on related subjects
Economic Development Seminar Series
Wednesday 7th December 2011 at Coventry University Technology Park (HDTI Building, Room 2F) at 4pm – 6pm
Professor David Bailey (Coventry University Business School and Chair, RSA)
“Manufacturing, the Economy and the West Midlands”
Wednesday 14th December 2011 at Coventry University Technology Park (CC1.4 –Techno Centre) at 4pm – 6pm
Professor Alex De Ruyter (Canterbury Christ Church University)
“Plant closure and labour market precariousness: an analysis of the status of MG Rover workers 4 years after closure”
Wednesday 11th January 2012 at Coventry University Technology Park (CC1.4 –Techno Centre) at 4pm – 6pm
Dr Lisa De Propis (University of Birmingham)
“Why do creative industries matter for economic recovery?”
Wednesday 25th January 2012at Coventry University Technology Park (CC1.4 –Techno Centre) at 4pm – 6pm
Dr Jason Begley (SURGE, Coventry University)
“UK policy and the Low Carbon Vehicle sector”
Tuesday 7thFebruary 2012 at Coventry University Technology Park (HDTI Building, Room 2F) at 4pm – 6pm
Professor John Shutt (Leeds Metropolitan University)
“LEPs: toothless tigers or strategic enablers? can they live up to the hype?”
Friday 3rd February 2012 Breakfast Meeting at 7am – 9am/10am at Coventry University Technology Park (Techno Centre Restaurant)
Professor David Bailey, Dr Nigel Berkeley (Coventry University Business School/SURGE) and the West Midlands Economy All Parliamentary Group
“Future of West Midlands Economy”
Light Refreshments will be available and there is no charge for attendance
Please book online for our events by clicking on the following link:
Jon Morris, Matthew Rhodes and Keith Budden, who jointly developed and promoted the innovative Birmingham Energy Savers scheme within Be Birmingham and the council right through to delivery, each received an Attwood Award on November 4th from the Lord Mayor, Len Gregory at a civic reception at the Council House.
The Birmingham Energy Savers scheme, now being delivered by the City Council, installs solar electricity generating panels and full insulation in homes. Those on low incomes do not pay for this and welcome the greater comfort and lower electricity bills.
The award celebrated the partnership between an NGO, a technical firm and local government: Jon is a consultant with the Localise West Midlands thinktank, Keith is Birmingham Council’s Environmental Partnership Manager, and Matthew is the Managing Director, of Encraft Ltd, an independent energy consultancy.
The 2010 Attwood Award was presented in recognition of their joint work on the scheme in the tradition of Thomas Attwood, Birmingham’s first MP, who promoted measures to boost the local economy, increasing employment, social harmony and prosperity.
Industrialist Kirsty Davies-Chinnock spoke about the project’s potential which has already generated widespread interest; speakers from Birmingham have been in demand across the UK as other local authorities and organisations are becoming interested in adapting the idea in their area. It was designed by Jon Morris and Matthew Rhodes to maximise the use of small scale local businesses in the installation and advice parts of the project, so creating local jobs and supply chains – which would have doubtless pleased Thomas Attwood.
Keith Budden of Birmingham Environment Partnership said “This scheme is a real win-win-win that supports local businesses, makes C02 savings, saves money on people’s bills and recirculates local money for local benefit”.
Alderman Matt Redmond, introducing the awards, said: “As with Birmingham’s growth in the industrial revolution, our future green economy can be built on local enterprise. Schemes like this give us the mechanisms to do this.”
We appreciate the input from the Green New Deal Group which sowed the seeds in local minds here and in other areas and from its convenor Colin Hines, who is also the co-founder of Localise West Midlands.