How can communities create vibrant local economies that benefit everyone? Fiona Ward, from the Transition Network, spoke to a crowded room at Taunton’s Creative Innovation Centre (CICCIC) giving examples of financially viable businesses that fufill community needs and deliver community benefits. That is money going back into the local community and not pouring out of the area like a leaky bucket.
Fiona described how other communities have created local enterprises in areas such as food, energy, construction, community shops, cafés and pubs and shared ownership of land and buildings. Projects such as the Handmade Bakery based in Slaithwaite, Yorkshire who provide a choice of artisan breads for the local community supported by a subscription service (you pay upfront for the bread) and run a cafe. Repowering London are working with Local Authorities and communities to develop local solutions to energy and related challenges, like fuel poverty, energy generation and energy efficiency.
This REconomy Project seeks to encourage people to shop locally, bring assets back into community ownership, and support local enterprises and even start local currencies. There is already vibrant local currencies in Bristol, Totnes, and Brixton to name but a few. It encourages everyone to support community projects or new entrepreneurs by investing their money or offering their skills. Totnes has the Local Entrepreneur Forum , where local people with ideas for a sustainable business pitch their ideas ‘dragons’ den’ style to the local community to gain support both financially and professionally to start up their business projects.
The discussion which followed showed that many people are already actively involved in community projects, and that there is a need for groups to work together to make more progress.
We pulled together the most discussed ideas:
- Starting a local currency: Taunton Pound (Taunton Tone), Somerset Pound
- All aspects of Community Energy Generation and Retention: solar panels on community buildings, hydro-power at French Weir and Firepool, insulation, etc.
- All aspects of Food Production, Retail and Consumption: sourcing local food, community growing, trading, markets, cooking and food education and re-skilling.
Taunton Transition will arrange further meetings to progress ideas to boost local economy initiatives based around these topics.
These meetings could start with 5 minute presentations from groups or individuals actively involved already or wishing to start something new.
If you endorse this idea, we invite you to choose which of these subjects (or choose ALL) you would like to be tackled first and let us know how you would be prepared to take part in the event (and its preparation) or any other subject about which you feel more passionate.
Contact: Jean 01823 282413, Ronni 07949273703 or Fran 07727479761.
Email: Jean – firstname.lastname@example.org, Vicky – email@example.com
Over the next couple of weeks we will try and bring together some of the projects that are currently running in the local area and some ideas from further afield.
The event was organised by Taunton Transition Town and generously hosted by CIC CIC themselves a community interest company. Please support them and attend some of the fabulous events that they hold.