Bristol Innovates Where Big Banks Fear to Tread

bp logo with hyphen 2Over two years ago the Bristol Pound launched to much excitement and media coverage. Coverage continues as the scheme was mentioned in national press at least three times this week and on BBC TV last night. Although the majority of Bristol Pounds are spent digitally, the paper is now recognised as an iconic image of Bristol around the world. Bristol Pounds are now accepted by hundreds of businesses in Bristol. The Bristol Pound is small but growing (est. £1m in transactions in 2015) and proving effective at getting businesses to use more local sourcing and reduce dependence on large multinational companies. This is good news for reducing supply chain CO2 emissions, building and retaining wealth in the region and sharing that wealth out more too. But on its own it will not address the need for businesses to access finance.

We are now considering other ways to help while remaining focused on helping local independent businesses. Too often the major banks fail to deliver finance that these SMEs need. This is a problem with the modern international banking system, made worse since the banking collapse in 2008, with real impacts in Bristol, the EU and around the world. The Bank of England have pointed to the possibility of deflation in the UK, already common across the EU. But why is it like this? A recent article in the Guardian by the recognised monetary historian David Graeber claims the Bank of England has blown the lid of the common understanding of how the vast majority of money is made available to businesses and individuals alike. In reality money can be created to match the ability of everyone in the economy to do work. But for historical and political reasons most of us are badly misinformed and believe there is a set amount of money that some people save and others borrow. Wrong!

What can we do about it? In Bristol an EC backed pilot is being run between the Bristol Credit Union, Bristol City Council and the Bristol Pound. One element of this pilot, from the team behind the Bristol Pound CIC, is a proposal to create interest-free loans based on invoices and mutual credit between a network of co-operating businesses. Called Bristol Prospects, it is significantly different to anything else in the finance sector and it will appeal to local and regional businesses and institutions looking for:

  1. Interest free credit finance.
  2. Genuinely new sales and more sales volume with other businesses based in the Bristol region.
  3. Instant payments on invoices to larger institutions  – no more having to wait for months before getting your money.

Set up as a members co-operative, it will be run as a not for profit scheme for the benefit of its members – businesses in Bristol, Bath and the surrounding region. This Tuesday 3rd March at 9.30 -11.00 there is a soft launch at the Engine Shed by Temple Meads. We want to see what appetite there is for this. We hope business people from the SME sector will come along to find out more and maybe ask us some hard questions.

Big Green Week seeks your Valentines to the future

Written by Carolyn Hair, OggaDoon Guerrilla PR and Marketing

Big Green Week Love the future headerThis Valentine’s Big Green Week is searching for the most inventive love note to the future to launch the UK’s largest festival of its kind coming up this June. You’ve already gone head over heels for the independent charm, creativity and ambition of the city, now with Bristol on the international stage as European Green Capital, it’s time to fall in love with the future.

Big Green Week’s organisers are encouraging people to share a Valentine to the future via social media – their passions and hopes for themselves, their beloveds, their families, their city and beyond. #Lovethefuture messages can be as inventive and bold as you like. The most creative answer will win a limited edition t-shirt designed by world-renowned Bristol-born graffiti artist, Inkie.

What would your love note to the future be? As we’re blogging on the Bristol Pound site, your ode may be to your local currency… Why do you love using the Bristol Pound? For the warm and fuzzy feeling it gives you at the cash register today, and the fact that it will protect the local economy for tomorrow?

How to get involved

1. Follow Big Green Week on Twitter or Instagram.

2. Take a pic of yourself making a hand heart or

3. Download this big green heart and write a message

4. Share via Twitter, Instagram or Big Green Week’s Facebook page with your love note to the future tagged #LoveTheFuture

Love tea?

Whether you’re all loved up, or still seeking your perfect match, share your Valentines to the future with the Big Green Week team over a blissed out Love Tea & Selfie. They’ll be spreading the love on 13 and 14 February from 11am to 3pm at the Cascade Steps in Bristol City Centre (you won’t be able to miss them, they’re the ones carrying large green love heart frames)

Through its Love the Future campaign, Big Green Week is spreading the love for smarter ways to live from fashion, food, art and music to transport, energy and nature.

From Saturday 13 to Sunday 21 June, Big Green Week will bring together leading global experts and thinkers to share ideas and inspiration of developing a better future. Last year the Festival attracted 50,000 visitors who enjoyed two weekends of free entertainment and nine days of inspiring talks, workshops, art, music, poetry, comedy and films.

BGW logo CMYK

Highlights of Big Green Week 2015:

European Commission Conference

Big Green Week will be in the spotlight this year as it hosts the high-profile European Commission Conference to announce the winner of the Green Capital Award 2017.

Festival of Nature

The first weekend of Big Green Week kicks off with Festival of Nature on 13 and 14 June – the UK’s largest free celebration of the natural world.

Big Green Market

The Big Green Market has been running for three years, attracting over 10,000 visitors to the heart of Bristol city centre. With over 85 stalls, two music stages and a dedicated children’s area, the market is simply unmissable.

Farefashion Show

For you fashionistas out there, Farefashion is back celebrating ethical fashion in style. After a glamorous sell-out show last year, we advise booking early…

Find out more: visit Big Green Week’s website- www.biggreenweek.co.uk

Join the conversation on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook with #LoveTheFuture

 

Getting to Know the Bristol Pound

365-logoOriginally listed on 365 Bristol

The Bristol Pound is revolutionary in that it is the UK’s first city-wide local currency, the first to have electronic accounts managed by a regulated financial institution, and the first that can be used to pay some local taxes.

Of course, Bristol Pounds stay in Bristol, with a strong emphasis on creating and building community connections and work for people, not banks, to create a fairer local economy.

We caught up with Bristol Pound Communications Manager, Katie Finnegan-Clarke, about the local currency, its future, and how you can get involved.

When did you set up The Bristol Pound and what are the key goals of a local currency?

Bristol’s local currency launched on 19th September 2012. Because Bristol Pounds stick to Bristol they make our city wealthier. This is particularly important for the city’s independent businesses. Our immediate aim is to support small independent businesses. In the longer term, the Bristol Pound can play a big part in making Bristol a vibrant and resilient local economy.

Are the team from Bristol?

Some of us are proper Bristolians (like me!); the rest of us have been living here for a number of years. We’re all a bit in love with Bristol.

How’s business?

The number of account holders is still on the rise, and we are continually breaking our records for most Bristol Pound text payments last week. More than 750 local businesses accept the currency and you can pay for First buses with paper Bristol Pounds. We’re looking to massively scale up for Bristol’s Green Capital year so watch this space! But it’s important to remind people we are a non-for-profit community interest company; any profit is reinvested in the scheme.

How can businesses and our readers get involved to support Bristol Pound?

The more people and businesses that use £B, the better it is for Bristol! By spending £B you’re making an active pledge to the local economy; you’re also encouraging local businesses to spend £Bs with their suppliers, passing on the pledge to spend locally.

Join today online at www.bristolpound.org/signup or we can sign you up in person at Bristol Credit Union on Stokes Croft or Bristol Pound offices above St Nicholas’ Market on Corn Street.

There’s a new design going on the currency next year. Why the re-design and how can aspiring artists submit their work for consideration? We’d of course be more than happy to have the 365Bristol logo on there!

To protect against fraud there is an expiry date on the notes so they become invalid from 30th September 2015. The new notes will be introduced from 30th June 2015.

We’re running another citywide design competition, which will open on 16th February and close at 5.30pm on 16th March. All the information you’ll need to enter can be found on http://bristolpound.org/competition.
You’re welcome to submit an entry!
What’s your favourite things to do in Bristol and any restaurants you and the team recommend?

We had our team Christmas meal at Souk Kitchen in Southville, which was a flavoursome delight. If you like a good coffee, which I really do, I’d highly recommend Small Street Espresso and Full Court Press in The Old City! They keep me going…
Where do you see Bristol Pound in 5 years time?

Still working hard for Bristol’s local independent traders and helping to build an economic system which works for everyone, not just the elite. I’m sure you’ll agree, a local finance system run by the people, for the people is so much better than one run by the banks, for the banks! That’s what we are creating!

Bristol Pound has been set up as a non-profit Community Interest Company and presumably have used a lot of blood, sweat and tears initially to get the organisation up and running. In light of budgetary constraints on charities, arts funded enterprises and other non-profits what advice can you give to organisations in need of additional funding and support?

Don’t give up!  You won’t get all the funding you apply for; but that doesn’t mean what you’re doing isn’t worthwhile. We’re lucky enough to live somewhere where there are a lot of great projects going on, so getting funding is really competitive.

If you were Mayor of Bristol for a day which one thing would you change?

I’d probably accidentally cause irreversible damage in that situation but for what it’d be worth I’d:
Put pressure on big businesses to pay their taxes in full and support the communities that they are profiting from, encourage a fair living wage and support people with finding sustainable housing. All in a days work!