Blogs >> Of mulch and massages - Jonathan Dawson

Of mulch and massages - Jonathan Dawson

2.5 tonnes of mulch
 25 fruit trees
 A radio show
 £2,000 in donations and pre-sales
 A horse paddock
 …..and a scattering of massages and free lunches……….

What do they have in common?

All were donated to the School Farm’s newly-launched community-supported agriculture (CSA) scheme at the 2013 Totnes Entrepreneurs’ Forum. Organised under the auspices of the Transition Town Totnes REconomy project, this is an annual showcase event for local independent businesses that aims to link them up with potential investors.

As the above list suggests, ‘investor’ is pretty loosely defined. Nor is this in any way accidental. For the event organisers are consciously seeking to promote the ethic that in the new economy, everyone can be an active investor in the place where they live. This is economics with a smile on its face and a twinkle in its eye, actively inviting participation and engagement. It offers the opportunity to experience ‘the economy’ not as some malign alien presence over which we have no control, but rather as something that we can chose to get stuck into co-creating, no matter how much or little we have to invest – for, in truth, all are rich and gifted in some way.

Students on the Masters degree, Economics for Transition that I teach on here at Schumacher College, have spent the last month or so visiting some of the many similar initiatives that are springing up all over the south-west, powered by community engagement and investment. These have included Bath and West Community Energy, which over the last three years has raised more than £1.5 million, almost half of it from the issue of shares to its nearly 200 investor-members, for community-owned renewable energy generation, the Bristol Pound, a paper and electronic community currency aimed at ‘plugging the leaks’ in the local economy by encouraging local trading (and which is now accepted in payment of both business rates and council tax); and the Red Brick Building in Glastonbury, a former sheep-skin tannery saved from demolition by community investment of over £300,000 that is today acting as a community centre providing social and micro enterprise support, arts and community activity, and demonstration of (as well as training in) sustainable construction and refurbishment.

This is the new, ethical, community-rooted economy being born daily all around us: sleeves rolled up, engaged, generous and generative.

Oh, and by the way, if you want to become an investor in the Home School Farm CSA, it is not too late!