LWM members, friends, supporters and contacts,
It’s been a long while since we put together a newsletter and as coordinator I apologise for that. After celebrating ten years of LWM in October we spent the winter working hard on our Mainstreaming Community Economic Development research project – of which more below – and since then have been working equally hard on funding bids to continue the work. Along with a dearth of volunteers recently this has made it impossible to get newsletters out with any regularity. This email will therefore have to act as a rather rough-and-ready Autumn 2013 newsletter – hope you find it interesting.
This has been our most significant piece of work over the last year, and hopefully this isn’t the first you have heard of it as we have put a lot of effort into promotion.
Funded by Barrow Cadbury Trust, the research found strong evidence that local economies with more small businesses and local ownership perform better in terms of economic success, job creation, social inclusion, civic engagement, wellbeing and local distinctiveness than places heavily reliant on inward investment. We used inspiring private, third and public sector case studies to explore how to scale up and replicate good practice and to maximise the local returns from all economic development. See project webpages for more detail, as well as our infographic that puts findings across in a more visual form.
Perhaps because the project appeals both to a pro-business agenda but also to concerns over concentrations of wealth and power, MCED has seemed to have catalysed discussion and activity in a number of places. It was useful evidence for Birmingham’s Social Inclusion Process, helping to shape its recommendations on an inclusive economy. It sparked a community economic development project and post in Wolverhampton, and discussions with other local authorities. It also got us involved in some cross-organisational discussions with Danny Alexander and his team at the Treasury, and helped spark interest in a potential national Alliance for a Better Economy with groups such as Reconomy, Co-ops UK and the New Economics Foundation.
This research gives us an excellent basis for taking forward models of economic development that maximise local returns and start to take a sustainable development approach. We plan to be working on this from October onwards. Please get in touch if you’d like to join the MCED Action Learning Network to share experience and learning on this agenda.
What else we’ve been busy with
As a quick roundup of other LWM activity: We have been working on the TABLES project with the excellent Professor Alister Scott from Birmingham City University and other partners. This is some follow-up work on the National Ecosystem Assessment for DEFRA on what tools can best be used to integrate the ecosystems services approach into decision-making. This is essential work in global sustainability as well as local area quality terms, but it will be a challenge to integrate new complexities into decision-making systems that are already severely challenged by public sector cuts.
We are currently evaluating the effectiveness of green energy equipment for Birmingham City Council, with associate Phil Beardmore leading on this. This and other strands of work keep us in touch with the energy retrofitting and community renewables agenda and how this is unfolding, with the help and hindrance of the government’s Green Deal programme. We have long been advocating and working on ways to ensure that publicly driven retrofitting and renewables activity maximises local economic benefit and tackles fuel poverty – the Energy Saving Co-op provides a great example of how it can be done better.
And finally we produced a short case study of America’s famous Evergreen Co-ops – which Co-op Futures have been doing a great job of promoting and which we hope will soon be replicated in the UK.
Change is in the chair….Back in October last year LWM had a change of chair: Hannah Worth has left the role. Despite the over-full-time job that was her role at the well-respected Chamberlain Forum, Hannah was always conscientious about her chair duties and made time somehow to support and liaise with me as coordinator whenever needed. I am sure my colleagues would agree it was also refreshing to have an excellent younger female leading in a sector dominated by (equally excellent) older men..! We wish her luck in new roles and hope she’ll stay involved.
Jon Morris, a longstanding LWM associate, has taken over the chair role. Jon has been responsible for some of LWM’s most important work in the past, so it is excellent to have this experience feed into his leadership of LWM.
We are always interested in having new board members who are committed to LWM’s aims – and particularly who will bring perspectives we don’t currently have by improving our lack of diversity.
On another ‘people’ matter – many thanks to Helen Ryman for voluntary work with us on evaluation and funding bids over the last year, and to Jamie Stone for work on our website and communications.
Changes to website
We’ve had the chance over the summer to make some small changes to the LWM website. Have an explore some time. I’m afraid there might still be the odd glitch – let me know if you find anything. I particularly like our new quotes page as a bit of inspiration – particularly David Korten on definitions of capitalism and concentration.
And lastly if you’re so inclined you can also always follow us on Twitter.Thanks for reading. Keep in touch.
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