Good money is good for the soil

This is the transcript of a talk given by Ciaran Mundy CEO Bristol Pound CIC to Soil Association staff.

foodcycle

  • A more locally owned economy is at the heart of strong community and real democracy.
  • Local to Regional supply chains means less dependence on fossil fuels.
  • Transaction and data technology innovation to support high streets and social enterprise.
  • Focused support delivering key skills and finance in sectors such as food and energy.
  • Creating a fairer economy by re-circulating wealth in the ‘real economy’.
  • Greater transparency and the potential to steer regional economic development.

 

“Healthy living soil is the basis of all organised human societies. Most modern industrial farming is very damaging to, and wasteful of, the soil. The drive in our economic system for short term profit is felt harder in the farming sector than many other parts of the economy as margins can be so low. The implications of such practices are grave for us all, lost fertility will push up food prices and the release of CO2 from soil is partly responsible for climate change impacts such as flooding and droughts. A keystone in efforts to save our soil, and ourselves, is the work done by the people in the Soil Association. But much more is needed at different levels.

A big part of the problem as we see it at the Bristol Pound is the broken connection between farmers and the people and communities that they feed. Nearly everything is organised by very large supermarkets or middle men driving producers margins ever lower. The pressure to ‘mine’ the soil to death is a harsh economic fact for many farmers. What intervention can help change direction, a systemic change that ordinary people could be central to. A vital link to create a sustainable food system is to re-build regional level connections – less dependent on fossil fuel intensive supply chains and more transparent to all. We support more direct selling from producers to independent businesses across the city and buying groups in disadvantaged areas. In Bristol, anyone can join the Bristol Pound scheme and support this change in a very practical way.

Every Bristol Pound created helps build up a local money supply that supports local economic ties between retailers, individuals and producers of the region. Bristol pounds mostly stay as Bristol pounds after their first transaction, so are far more powerful than any individuals spending choices alone – we have created around £B360,000 so far and we want to go much further.  Anyone can help make this change, without spending any more money than usual.  Just the act of using £Bs instead of sterling is helping to transform the local economy and rebuild relationships between farmers and those living or working in and around Bristol.

We say Love Bristol – Go Local. Get involved today by taking some of your wages into a £B account. It’s safe, fun to use you can even convert back into sterling at no cost if you need to.

Bristol’s unique qualities – its independence, rich culture and community spirit – make it an incredible place to live. Using £B is a great way to discover the city and the people that make it so special. With each transaction you get a little buzz from knowing that you’re contributing to building a resilient and green local economy.”

Slide show

  • Since September 2012: £B320,000 created, 600+ business, 1300 accounts with TXT2PAY, Bristol Credit Union Reserves up £200k+.
  • High Profile for Bristol Green Capital – The Bristol Pound is not only building connections in and around Bristol, it helps put Bristol on the map, with millions of TV viewers learning about the scheme and about Bristol across the UK and internationally – from Australia and China to Greece and Russia, dozens of mainstream radio, newspaper and online reports continue to be published. On the day of our launch BBC had 250,00 hits on the story and it was estimated that the city had £3m of free publicity.
  • Why is the world watching? Without spending any more than before the organisations and people of the city can join together to create a greener, stronger, happier local economy.

Bristol Pounds work for people not banks to create a fairer, stronger, happier local economy.

Foraging, films and fire-by-fricton: meet the Bristol collective that’s exploring social and environmental issues through arts and nature

When was the last time you sat quietly and listened to the birds for half an hour, softening your vision to take in everything at once? Or the last time you pushed your patience to its limits just to get a tiny ember and little waft of smoke? Funny that we’ve got to a point in human history where such things are elusive and precious… but there it is: we don’t really spend much time with just our thoughts, our basic needs and the birds. There are too many emails to be read.

I went on a bushcraft course last spring to learn new ‘survival skills’ – shelters, tracking, fire – and came back with some new strings to my bow. But also, more unexpectedly, with a dawning realisation that wilderness learning is a philosophy of living in balance and with respect; it’s essentially a subversion of consumerism and ‘gadget culture’. Pretty radical considering it involves just hanging out in the woods. I was set alight by the idea* and – a bit like when you finish a book and think ‘everyone I ever meet must read this!’ – I knew I had found something to pass on.Luckily I was pretty sure that Bristol would be full of people wating to explore that same edge. So I invited the tutors, a pair of multi-talented cavemen called Caspar and Robert, to come over to the west country to share their tricks and turn people’s thoughts away from global banking and the daily traffic of cyber chatter.

As a member of CoResist  – a collective of artists, educators and activists –  I was able to gather support from my colleagues to run the course last November. A great success, it was the first of a renewed schedule of events. We’ve hosted a fundraiser against fracking and a whole season of documentaries at Hamilton House, each followed by a Q&A and discussion; next up will be Chasing Ice and The Vanishing of the Bees. The last Friday of April will bring with it a musical, theatrical, post-apocalypse party: The Ramshackle Tabernacle. From the very outset, CoResist has warmly welcomed Bristol Pounds at all our events. We’re sure that local currencies will be needed in such a world, so they’re accepted on the door and at the bar.

As spring has arrived we are readying ourselves for the next bushcraft course; this time with 4 extra hours of daylight (at no extra cost!). If you’d like to unplug from the mains and take your watch off then do join us on May 9-11th.

•    Details of all our events – including booking information – can be found on our website: www.CoResist.org
•    And we love to be liked: facebook.com/CoResist
•    To keep up with what’s on at Hamilton House, visit http://www.hamiltonhouse.org/whats-on/