Course: Local Economy and Social Change

Welcome to part 2 of the course!

Now it is time for part 2 of this course which started in May-June.

Here is the video from our secound meeting. Below you find readings, videos and assignment for the period September 26 to October 14

Scroll even further down and you will find, under the heading ”From part 1 of the course” a video from our first meeting, the powerpoint slides from that meeting and the handouts from part 1 of the course.

Here are the slides from the lesson:

Readings, videos and assignment for September 26 to October 14

Here follows a short text about local economic assessments and when, how and why they may be worthwhile conducting. You also find a handout on the workshop approach to local economic assessments.

After that you find a description of your assignment for the two weeks between September 26 and October 14, and a short description of community wealth building approaches for you to study.

We will meet again on Tuesday October 10 at 9.00-12.00 a.m. C.E.T. Then you are asked to share your ideas related to the assignment.

1. When, how and why should we be doing local economic assessments?

Why make local economic assessments? What do we learn?

Assessing or mapping the existing forms of community wealth in a local community is a central part of any local economic assessment. Even for more focused local economic assessments, say for an assessment of how the local economy serves and supports women in a community or an assessment focused on local energy or food economies, it is valuable to map those forms of community wealth that exists, as they may be building blocs for a working strategy for change.

When we work for social change we need estimates of what and perhaps of how big changes are possible. In other words we benefit from trying to answer to what extent redirecting resource flows in a community can support new forms of community wealth?

When we want to build something locally it is also good to know what a community is spending today that is leeking out of it. For example today we usually buy energy and food from far away and the money we spend on those necessities end up to a large extent in the pockets of the wealthy residing far away from our communities.

Local economic assessments can identify leakage of local resources. If we want it can put numbers on it. How much is leaking out of the leaky bucket?

We also try to identify underutilized resources that can be used to develop community wealth. We map them.

The goal of of making those assessments is to compare the present situation with a potential other situation in a collaborative fashion. For example we can estimate and research in different ways how much resources are spent on energy (electricity, fuel or both) in one community and also specify how much of the spending on energy that is paid to distantly owned businesses instead of being paid to locally anchored businesses?

The workshop approach or collecting data? Or both? This is a choice for the group that decides it want to do a local economic assessment.

Handout 4 is description of how the workshop approach can look like. (Handout 1,2 and 3 was given to you in part 1 of the course, see below.)

2. Assignment for everyone to work with between September 26 and October 14

Your main task those coming two weeks is to articulate an idea and sketch very briefly a strategy for furthering community wealth building in your own community. Feel free to work with two and two, or three and three if that is possible and works well for you.

This assignment has three parts:

  1. You are encouraged to list existing forms of community wealth in your locality/district/region, it can be organisantions, informal cooperation, good local businesses, movements etc that you believe could or should play a role within a drive for building more community wealth in the area.
  2. Try to think about what local economic leakages that exists (related to food, energy, services etc) and how to plug them. How could people, different initiatives, new or existing businesses and other actors work together to ”plug the leaks” of your local economy?
  3. Your strategy and idea for community wealth building should lead to the accumulation of resources within the community. Think 5 years ahead, what could have been achieved through working with your community wealth building idea and strategy in the best case scenario?

If you want to focus on a specific aspect of your local community as housing, energy or food, please feel free to do that. If you want to take a broad view and think little bit about everything, do that.

If you are involved in work that is already building community wealth please use this assignment to think about how it this work can be developed further.

Send your answers to the above questions to the WhatsApp-group of the course. Try to send in your ideas about this in advance of our video meeting at Tuesday October 10, at 9.00-12.00 a.m. C.E.T.

3. Some examples of community wealth building approaches

Community wealth building as a strategy for social change is all about to work systematically with the shared resources in a community, ie. our community wealth, and to manage it in a way that builds more community wealth. Community wealth building can be practiced from the bottom up, but it is always anchored in organizations and businesses and local networks of citizens. Where conditions allow it it is also anchored in political institutions who may be important foundations for community wealth building for example through their way of procuring products and services.

What is community wealth?

In the first video meeting of this course we touched upon the diverse forms of community wealth that may exist in a local or regional context. Community wealth can exist for example in the form of:

  • Local small businesses
  • Informal collaboration in a community
  • Housing associations and self-builders cooperation
  • Jointly owned energy production (and distribution)
  • Worker cooperatives
  • Social movements
  • Non-profit social enterprises and non-profit institutions in general

The shared feature of all above is that they, it properly working, contribute to the well being and functioning of local communities and their inhabitants, and they do this by keeping wealth locally and accessible in one form or the other for people in the local community. They circulate resources and money within our communities.

What follows below is a list of a few examples of community wealth and community wealth building. It is in no ways an extensive list, but a collection of examples meant to illustrate how this approach may be put to work. Please look at what you find most interesting and feel free to skip things that you are not interested in.

Example 1: Learning together and awareness raising work

Conducting a local economic assessment together with other people in the community is one way to raise awareness and create a willingness to contribute to a local development initiative. Buy local campaigns can be another way to support a growing network of existing or new local businesses set up to develop the local community in one way or the other.

Example 2: Community Development Corporations (CDCs)

Community Development Corporations (CDCs) are a form of businesses that are set up to serve local community needs. Here are 2 videos that describes examples of this kinds of businesses.

Example 3: Community land trusts

Another form of organisation that have the potential to build community wealth is the community land trust. Here are 2 videos about this sort of organisation and what it can be used for:

Example 4: Food hubs

One community wealth building strategy is developing food hubs. Here are 3 short videos about food hubs and how they are building community wealth:

Example 5: Community energy

Here are 3 videos discussing what community energy can be, how it may contribute to community wealth and how it is an important part of the transition to renewable energy and also a stepping stone to social justice. (Note: I forgot to mention this example in the session on Tuesday Sept 26 but it is included here.)

Example 6: Anchor institutions building community wealth

One example of how cooperatives can be developed with the support of so called anchor institutions is the Cleveland Model which is presented in this short video:

Example 7: Local politics

In UK and the broader European context Preston and some other UK municipalities, faced with austerity politics from above, has been pioneers of a community wealth building in the municipal arena. They were inspired by the Cleveland model but brought it into municipal politics. There has also been work to develop this approach in Kigoma, Tanzania. (See the article: ”Building community wealth globally: The Kigoma-Preston collaboration”, by Michaela Collord, The Next System Project, November 2019.)

The below video discusses the meaning of community wealth building when brought inte local and regional politics.

If you want to look at a longer video documenting the work being done in Preston and the link between that work and work done in Scotland, as well as the Cleveland model and other work in the US in the community wealth building arena you find this here: Building the Democratic Economy: From Cleveland to Preston – a special episode of the Laura Flanders show (27 minutes).

From part 1 of the course – below

Video from our first meeting May 29:

Here is the powerpoint as a pdf possible to download:

We learned about our local communities and their challenges

In the first part of the course the most important task was to describe the situation in one´s local community with an eye on it´s local economy and also to share questions regarding this or topics brought up in the course. In this document some of the contributions to our WhatsApp group are summarized for convenience:

Readings week 1 and 2: Readings week 1 and 2:

Here is uploaded the same readings that were sent out by mail in advance of the course.

In the first video meeting we discussed the concepts discussed in those handouts.

Note that Handout 3 (7 pages) is in Swedish just for the Swedish participants.

Handout 1 and 2

Handout 1 (6 pages) is for everybody who reads English. Handout 2 (also 6 pages) for anyone who have little bit more time.

Handout 3 – in Swedish

This is a reading only for the Swedish participants.