Thanks to everyone who attended the first ever international Trans-Local Entreprenuer Forum on Thursday Nov 26th. On zoom, of course!
After getting to know each other a bit, we had a brilliant presentation from Nao Suzuki about the Isumi Local Entrepreneur Project, on the Chiba peninsula in Japan, which is creating the conditions for regenerative enterprise and economic transformation. We then had a brief open space session with topics on Global Regeneration Colab network, CoDev – a collaborative development methodology, Food & Fiber, Complementary and Blockchain currency.
And then, three solutionary entrepreneurs pitched their projects to the ‘community of dragons’ – all of us in the audience who were eager to provide support. First up was Spark It Liverpool who have a lovely approach to transforming street parking into popup shops and community spaces. Next was TiQuest who are building a solution to help locally-owned shops eliminate waste, as well as own and manage their own data. Finally, Bern Unverpackt, a zero waste coop pitch their project. All had a ‘trans-local’ element as they seek to connect across their local borders and spread their innovations. Our ‘dragons’ responded with ‘investments’ of money, expertise, connections, virtual hugs and lots of love.
It was an experiment and it seemed to work. All in all, about 40 participants – not bad for a prototype event on zoom! And we had about 40 ‘investments’. We’re already thinking about next time! Participants said: “this is the best zoom I have been too!”, “this was absolutely fantastic!”, “What a lovely experience!”
Wow! It’s already the end of November! Time has flown by in this weird COVID-induced world in which we find ourselves. Just another thing challenging young adults as they seek to developed their livelihoods and careers, venture out into the world and build a life for themselves. For the last ten years, it seems ‘the future’ has been demolished and dismantled by financial crisis, austerity and brexit. If you’re under 30, it’s been one bloody WTF? after the next.
ALT/work is an attempt to spark solutions with and for this ignored and disrespected generation. There’s hope in all this calamity that we can #buildbackbetter. Many of us in our networks across the South West and beyond are investing ourselves in this ambitious work to transform our economies to become inclusive and just, ecologically wise, socially thriving, resilient and diverse. If so, then let’s put our young people at the front, in leadership position, throwing the doors to a new, meaningful, regenerative economy wide open!
ALT/work began in September with a series of six online events with speakers drawn from the region, many of them generational peers, each with a powerful story of social enterprise and entrepreneurship. Many of the speakers were from enterprises that are members of the social enterprise networks in Devon and Somerset, and several are potential members. Each session included discussion time and network building. Each included music, even live music. All participants were encouraged to join a separate discussion forum enabling further communication and network building. Several social enterprises agreed to post volunteer and internship opportunities.
These sessions proved to appeal and inspire participants. Gross total participation for the sessions was about 150, of which about half were from our target audience – age 28-16, Devon or Somerset. Feedback from participants was positive. Although the number of participants was less than our target, the quality of engagement and reported positive impacts was very high.
The efforts to attract the participation of our target group began with a design exercise with a small group of art students, ‘The Collective’. Their ideas were tranformed into an edgy aesthetic communicating the benefits of participation, of meaningful livelihoods and issues that matter. ‘The Collective’ produced a music playlist and contributed original photography to use in our website and Instagram page, which went from zero followers to 178 in just a few weeks. We also built a website, altwork.live, which would convey the description of the programme, speaker profiles, schedule, and registration.
Overall, the programme successfully inspired and motivated many young people in to consider regenerative enterprise as a possible career route. We engaged social enterprise networks and enterprises, as well, many of which remain motivated to develop the project further. And we feel certain the groundwork is laid for further engagement of young people in this region on the opportunities for them in social enterprise and entrepreneurship.
A few testamonials:
“thanks for these talks, so inspiring. as a potential young entrepreneur, and constantly being told hw valuable experience is”
“this session has really given me hope for my career”
“It’s been great meeting new inspiring people, not just the speakers but the other participants too!”
So, what’s next? We’re working on it and we invite you to co-create the next steps together. A national network? More speaker events? Entrepreneurial training? It’s all possible. If you’re interested in getting involved, send us an email. email@example.com
The Heart of the South West Enhance Social Enterprise Programme is receiving up to £1,053,610 of funding from the England European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) as part of the European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme 2014-2020. The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government is the Managing Authority for ERDF. Established by the European Union, ERDF funds help local areas stimulate their economic development by investing in projects which will support innovation, businesses, create jobs and local community regenerations.
To state the obvious, political and economic change happens in all kinds of ways including through crisis and calamity. For those of us working for change at local, municipal and regional scales, this is the moment when many of the solutions we’ve been promoting are needed and the conditions for building the foundations for longer term change are favourable. There’s much to explore on this topic, obviously, but let’s just focus on a few points which might inspire immediate action and kick off a continuing conversation in our wider community of changemakers, and especially here in the South West, UK.
Who hasn’t noticed the growing vacancies on the Totnes High Street? Totnes has been more the exception than the rule, resisting the retail malaise that has struck High Streets all over Britain. It has, so far, resisted the encroachment of chain stores, while being held up as an example of a local economy thriving on tourism, community spirit and independent shops. For decades, local traders have opposed pedestrianisation, which is, ironically, a suggestion that many visitors make upon struggling their way up the High Street and The Narrows. A few years ago, a temporary traffic reversal was blamed for a few shops closing with an energetic campaign to reverse the reversal.
But there are larger forces at work behind the current trend of closures. One obvious explanation is that shops are failing because people don’t want to buy what they’re selling. This is undoubtedly true for some, probably most, while a few are closing for strategic reasons of their own. A couple of multinational retail chains are opening new units, a SpecSavers and a Coffee One, a subsidiary of Cafe Nero. Both will put further pressure on locally-owned opticians, as well as local cafes and their local suppliers.
Perhaps we all agree the current economic system is the problem. This is, of course, a generalisation which could be endlessly unpicked and elaborated. But if we’re concerned about global warming, biospheric damage, inequality, etc, the globe-sized elephant in the room, so to speak, is the dominant economic system powered by fossil fuels and predicated on endless consumption and growth. It’s efficiency-oriented and centralising, concentrating ever greater economic and political power in the hands of oligarchs and autocrats, which means change will not come easy.
Perhaps by now we also know that change is coming one way or the other. Experts warn we must rapidly reduce the energetic and material throughput of the global economic system by orders of magnitude in the coming years or face severe consequences, including a variety of collapse scenarios. These consequences will hit real people in real communities in our towns, cities, and surrounding regions. This suggests what’s needed is not just a radical rethink, but a radical reconfiguration of how we meet our needs.
Recent research for the Reconomy Centre shows that the quality entrepreneurs value most is resilience: to be able to take the knocks, weather the storm, and somehow still come back for more with a smile on their face.
Getting involved with trying to leave the world a bit better than we found it has its ups and downs. The inspiration and the excitement of working with kindred spirits, the satisfaction of seeing people moved or changed, stretching your talents – even getting paid for it – all fulfil the promise of what you came here to do.
But there is also a range of unpleasant feelings: overwhelm, doubt and anxiety. How can you possibly get it all done, and how can it be good enough anyway? And the self- judgements – who do I think I am taking this on? What do other people think of me and how can I manage that? Looking around you notice others seem to be getting on with it despite set backs. They don’t look like they have a permanent knot in their stomach or a constant nagging anxiety.
So what does resilience look like? I suggest it is trusting yourself that in any situation, however challenging, you have access to inner wisdom and clarity to know what to do in the moment. And although being human, you may sometimes feel insecure, stressed or self critical, you deeply know that those feelings are not based on anything that is ‘true’ and that they are transitory. It may look as if the feelings are coming from outside circumstances or from some past conditioning, but you do know they are to do with temporary thoughts and reactions. So no tools or techniques are needed – just a simple and profound understanding of how we create our experience.
I recently ran a series of workshops at the Reconomy Centre where w explored all of this called Accessing your Inner Resilience. It was such a success – I’m running them again. Some of the comments from participants included:
‘I had fresh insights which have given me an extraordinary lightness and clarity that it’s not on me to fix everything.’
‘It is something that sort of sinks in subliminally. After the last workshop I was in a situation where I could have let myself get quite upset and annoyed – and I was consciously aware that the way I thought about would affect the way I felt about it and I was able to let go.’
‘I loved being immersed in the inside/our way of looking at things. Erica held the group really well and brought each of us insights about how we could see ourselves, our situations and relationships more clearly’
‘I have seen for myself that I do not need fixing. I am a naturally resilient person and I do not need to read endless self-help books to re-build this. It is an innate quality that we all share. It just gets a little disguised sometimes. I have seen for myself that our experience is only ever one thought thick. This has helped me to stay more present with my day-to-day experiences and to be more accepting of life’s ebbs and flows. It’s also allowed me to be more compassionate towards myself and not push away my negative emotions/reaction but rather extend the arm of friendship and embrace them. I feel lighter and I find myself less entangled with my thoughts and emotions’
Please join me on Thursday 4 October at 6.30 for a FREE taster workshop at the REconomy Centre which will then be followed by a series of 7 weekly workshops. Cost for the whole course £65 (or whatever you can afford). To book either e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or phone/ text 07790 177146.
Date: Thursday 23rd November (10am-1pm) Venue: Reconomy Centre, Totnes
To book: email@example.com
Pull together an engaging ‘personal brand’ and CV to create more impact with HR, influencers and recruiters.
You may have spent countless hours editing and re-editing your CV, but how do you know if it’s still what recruiters are looking for? Are you often left frustrated and confused, curios of how the national job-boards like Monster and Reed actually work? Do you know what your personal statement should really say about you to make maximum impact? Too many skilled and gifted candidates are throwing away great opportunities for new roles-and all because they have little idea of what a compelling and engaging CV should like.
Please join coaching and recruiting professional for a 3 hour workshop where you’ll learn how to structure a compelling CV, one that truly reflects who you are, and what you have to offer, so that you can increase your chances of finding much better opportunities.
This impact report aims to understand and assess the impact of The Totnes REconomy project over the last 6 years, between 2012 to 2017. The project is located in Totnes, Devon, UK, a market town with a population of about 8,500 in the town and about 23,000 for the town and district. The report will look at the economic, social and environmental impacts of The REconomy Project, the extent to which it has achieved its aims, and share some of the lessons learned and insights for moving forward.
The Totnes REconomy Project has been running since 2011 with practical aims to develop more opportunities for young people to create livelihoods and for everyone in the community to have their needs met in ways that are ecologically sustainable or regenerative, fair and inclusive, and that contribute to the resilience of the community. The premise for activity is that if we want a new kind of local economy that can deliver on these aims, we must create the conditions for new economic actors, relationships and models to emerge and thrive. We believe we can create these conditions by focusing on four areas of activity: 1) catalysing a new entrepreneurial culture, 2) mobilising local social and financial capital, 3) building an ‘enterprising ecosystem’, 4) weaving networks of ‘new economy’ organisations and activists.
We conducted this study to try to measure our impacts in these areas. What we have found is that through our three principal projects, the Local Entrepreneur Forum, the REconomy Centre, and the Local Economic Blueprint, we have had positive results in all of these areas.
The Totnes REconomy Project has directly helped to raise over £83k of financial support from local citizens for 27 enterprises, creating 5 new full time equivalent jobs. Beneficiaries have reported that access to hundreds of thousands more financial support and creation of many more jobs have been indirect results of the Totnes REconomy Project’s activities and relationships. These local enterprises turnover about £1.3, spending over £870k on local payroll and procurement. These factors make a positive contribution to building community wealth. Furthermore, these firms also pursue social and environmental aims which also contribute positively to an inclusive, fair, sustainable and resilient local economy.
The Totnes REconomy Project is catalysing the emergence of a community supported entrepreneurial culture and ecosystem. Since 2012, there have been over 720 participants in the LEF and over 100 members of the REconomy Centre; 27 enterprises have pitched for support – many now support and collaborate with each other. After 6 LEF events, 170 people have played the role of investor, including 24 from these pitching enterprises. Over 150 enterprise workshop participants and hundreds of hours of volunteer support have been logged at the REconomy Centre. Trends are positive for increasing numbers of ‘investors’ and enterprises applying to pitch. These indicators all point toward a normalising of these activities in local community life.
The LEF and REconomy Centre have become important institutions in the local enterprise ecosystem, offering clear and accessible pathways for entrepreneurs to start new enterprises, or existing enterprises to access support or expansion capital. As a result of their positive impacts, new and/or more impactful roles for local political actors, schools, landowners, and NGOs in this ecosystem have been enabled. This brings to life a ‘community supported entrepreneurism’, a kind of community enterprise incubation system.
In short, the impacts of the Totnes REconomy Project, through its principal projects, have been positive and increasing. The study, below, brings to light more detail and context, allowing the reader to gain a more in-depth understanding of how and why these projects are working, as well as their limitations. The study creates a foundation for understanding the opportunities for improving the effectiveness of these projects, as well as the potential for new projects and programmes.
Community gathers to invest in local enterprises in party atmosphere
If you have watched the Dragons’ Den on TV, you may have already figured out the twist behind the May 11th Community of Dragons event in Totnes – everyone’s an investor. For the past six years, the people of Totnes and District have come
together to help local entrepreneurs lift off, or a young business grow, with financial and non-financial investments of thousands of Pounds Sterling, offers of business advice – and even child minding and home-cooked meals.
This year’s event is at the Royal Seven Stars Hotel Ballroom and will be co-hosted by Katie ‘Mama’ Tokus, singer of sassy, self-penned blues and soul songs, and a spoken word performer. The evening promises to be fun, lively and productive.
Five local projects will be pitching for funds, advice, and help of all kinds to get their businesses to the next level: food growers the Apricot Centre, at Huxhams Cross Biodynamic Farm, led by Bob Mehew; Potting Shed
Jay Jacoby of Yew Media, a bespoke biographical and personal legacy film company, says, “I’m SO grateful, excited, honoured, scared and happy!!! Thank you for this opportunity! I can’t wait to ‘get stuck in’!” Bob Mehew says, “We at The Apricot Centre are delighted to be presenting to the Community of Dragons this year. With public help we can invest in and share our tractor and other machinery to enable us and other small scale land-workers to improve their efficiency and go further.” Emily Reed of Black Bee Combe says, “We seek to demonstrate ethical beekeeping, by using hives which support honeybees natural preferences,
practicing minimal intervention beekeeping and reestablishing a locally adapted strain of the nationally threatened native honeybee. I hope the Dragons can help us develop new income streams to support the project.”
“The way it works is that everyone can participate and be a ‘dragon’, just like in the ‘Dragon’s Den’ TV show, except we’re all friendly dragons,” says Jay Tompt, coordinator of the Totnes REconomy Project, one of the co-organisers of the event. “We can support our local entrepreneurs with money or time or skills or experience or neighbourly encouragement. Past investments have included hugs and home-cooked meals, for example.”
The 2017 Community of Dragons has been timed to take place during Global Divestment Week (May 5th-13th), when campaigning groups synchronised by climate safety charity 350.org will be persuading individuals and institutions all over the world to move their money out of climate damaging fossil fuel investments. But moving one’s money is only the first step; the Community of Dragons creates investment opportunities, the second and key part of Divest/Invest. Here is where people can move their money closer to home and put it to work creating a vibrant, healthy economy that can grow for the benefit of everyone, providing opportunities for young people and new life for the Devon economy.
The event has supported a wide range of businesses in the last six years. Last year, Ambios Ltd – an educational farm project – and local caterer The Kitchen Table pitched, alongside theatre designer Iola and horse trainer Horse & Heart. In prior years, enterprises have included the food processor Grown in Totnes, New Lion Brewery, GroCycle mushroom farm, and Argand Solutions, a technology company. Last Saturday, April 29th, saw The Kitchen Table providing local-grain-based catering for Grown In Totnes’ processing unit launch on the Totnes Industrial Estate. Both these enterprises are dedicated to promoting local food, and such mutual support is what the Community of Dragons is all about.
“I never thought I could be an investor but always wanted to support the kinds of businesses I’d really like to have in my community,” says 2016 participant Jane Brady. “It felt so good when I ‘invested’ in Ambios last year with my promise to take part in their ‘share in a sheep’ scheme. It was the most delicious investment I’ve ever made in my life!”
John Elford of the Totnes Pound says, “We will be be making the annual Totnes Pound award of t£100 to the enterprise project that best embodies the spirit of Totnes innovation, and t£21 to all the other pitchers.” In every community there are people with experience in business, people with a little bit of money in the bank, and people who value the neighbourliness in the places they live. The idea behind the Community of Dragons and other ‘reconomy’ projects is that when local people come together like this, a vibrant, healthy economy can grow, providing opportunities for young people and new life for our High Streets.
Everyone is warmly invited to join the fun at the Community of Dragon’s event, May 11th, Royal Seven Stars Ballroom, Totnes – networking starts at 6pm, programme at 7pm. Further information are available on the REconomy Centre website at www.bit.ly/lef2017