Wed 29 Apr 2020 4:33PM

Where do we go from here?

G Graham Public Seen by 88

At a meeting the other day of the directors of Platform 6, a conversation began about the role that Platform 6 could adopt in the context of the multiple crises that we all find ourselves in. Right now we're in the midst of a major global health crisis. This is very rapidly becoming a global economic crisis (I saw a headline today talking about 1.5 billion people being put out of work in the short term - which I understand is nearing half of the world's workforce). And of course we are also up to our hips in the climate crisis. Crisis is the new normal.

So how can we respond most effectively in this context? @Austen Cordasco – one of my fellow directors, talked about the collapse of our civilisation, and, in the context of the Roman Empire and its collapse, identified the P6 community as the Barbarians.

Clearly there's a major job of work to build a new economy that puts planet and people first rather than last, but what should be our strategy in working towards that aim? Where and how can we focus our energies for maximum impact?

We're really excited by the potential of the new Barefoot Co-op Developer cohort that will emerge over the course of this year, and I'm interested in trying to ensure that P6 does everything it can to help make that more successful and more effective.

So, rather than continue the conversation within the four or five of us that were on the call, we agreed that it would be far more sensible and useful to open the discussion up to our members and fellow travellers. Hence this post.

So, what do you think?


Graham Thu 30 Apr 2020 11:09AM

I'm up for this Sion, as you know. What do we need to do to make this real?


Nathan Brown (Co-op Culture) Fri 1 May 2020 8:42AM

Likewise up for this. But if it is purely reliant on probono/volunteer time then it will be limited and piecemeal. We need the movement to get behind such a quick response network.


John Merritt Thu 30 Apr 2020 12:53PM

We (Social Enterprise Link) have been lobbying locally (the Solent area) and we are extending that lobbying the to organisations in the region (Anchor Institutions, Political Parties and Trade Unions) for them to invest time, money and intellectual effort into putting something in place to deal with the fall out of the UK's current malaise.

The two documents I have attached are some of what we have been using to explore the question, and have had a response of 'we are interested and will get back to you' from Bournemouth (BCP) and Southampton Councils. The Development Coop have a Board meeting tomorrow and we will have this on the agenda.

I know only too well, that Social Enterprises can be slippery fish and it was obvious at the New Economy event in Oldham in February, (facilitated by Jonathan Bland) where Ed Mayo, Peter Holbrook and myself talked briefly about a possible way forward, that coherence and conflict in the room of people of 'good will', were challenges that will surface. So there are good reasons for Coops to Do it Ourselves.

I think a multi-stakeholder approach on a grand scale is needed and we should (and do) encourage plenty of grass roots activism. Indeed, Transition and CTRLShift Summit, Stir to Action, Solidarity Economy Association, Coop Party and many others have been on the case for a few years. However, I do think infrastructure has to be in place and we did start the process in our proposals to the labour parties consultation.

Dark Ages and Dark Times do revisit humanity and it maybe we are already entering another. Concern about the rise of the right, anti-immigration sentiments, authoritarian and surveillance capitalism (state and private) and the rest, topped of with a pandemic and a couple of huge recessions, shouldn't be be dismissed. But is the answer different because of the Pandemic and looming recession?

I think 'we' the progressive alliance of red-green-black democratic political economic enlightenment and business consultancy (Barbarians as Austen might say) have quite a job on our hands.

There is some interesting work on Modern Monetary Theory and Positive Money are discussing Electronic Money systems. Local Currencies and Credit Unions should be part of the short term response to this as well.

Build Back Better https://www.unisdr.org/files/53213_bbb.pdf by a UN report and the hashtag used by Social Enterprises, Coops and Mutuals for getting government recognition that our sector needs to be supported, should be tapped into.

I agree with Sion, we need quick responses, (to workers, trade unions, politicians and others) and we need resources to draw on.

I agree with Nathan, we should be getting the wealthier part of the movement to support development

I agree with Austen and Graham that we need to work with industries and businesses that will be a core part of the recovery (Key workers in Key Businesses).

I also think we need to be able to present ourselves to governments, parties, trade unions and others as a flat but structured product and service offer. I think accountancy and audit alongside consultancy, technical innovation and cooperative finance and banking, should be part of that offer. How we put that together in a short time with no money, is a challenge I only have vague ideas about.

My tuppence worth - but there is lots more to come and I hope many more people will be throwing their hat in the ring


Shaun Fensom Sat 2 May 2020 2:23PM

Can we abandon the ‘fall’ of Rome parallel please? Aside from the fact that the fate in the East and West were quite different, the so-called barbarians that replaced the western empire with their Gothic kingdoms, were the ones who gave us medieval Europe - leading to the crusades and the inquisition.


Mark Simmonds (Co-op Culture) Tue 5 May 2020 11:30AM

Similar discussion going on in Community Business Mutual Aid Forum which is meeting on-line on a regular basis - Tuesday mornings. https://cbmutualaid.co.uk/


Cliff Mills Wed 6 May 2020 9:12AM

What do I think Graham? I think that it is a wonderful, if tragic opportunity. It's worth folk knowing that in Greater Manchester, the Mayor is pushing the Build Back Better theme - see the press conference he held with Steve Rotheram here. The GM Co-operative Commission, which reported in January, has been asked both to carry on working to help implement its recommendations, and now to contribute where possible to support the recovery phase. This creates another opportunity.

I agree with Shaun about Rome. I prefer the Monty Python take on it.

Here's something I've just published on Medium about cooperation, not competition.


Shaun Fensom Wed 6 May 2020 11:03AM

Two thoughts, one prompted by @Cliff Mills 's Medium post:

1. Yes, we have seen a surge in people self organising, locally and without bureaucratic fuss or indeed formal cooperative structures - as @kate whittle and others point out. Worth noting though that much of this organisation is fulled by or enabled by digital methods, including the dreaded Facebook.

2. Love the Maoist reference in the Barefoot Co-op Developers. But - thinking about previous coop development fixation with the number of coops - isn’t the lesson of the surge in self organisation that it is the cooperative behaviour that we want to preserve and extend, rather than the number of formal cooperative structures that we want to increase?

Taking 2. to its next step, shouldn’t we pursue the thinking around umbrella structures (eg SMART, and work @Graham and I did on Innovation Cooperative) ? Some work underway on this if anyone interested.


Kate Whittle Wed 6 May 2020 2:21PM

Totally agree with your point 2, @Shaun Fensom we have seen only too often where that fixation leads. Looking back at old copies of Lambeth CDA annual reports (as you do ha ha) it's desperately disappointing how few of the worker co-ops that existed in the late 80s, are still in existence now - Brixton Bikes the only one I think? Please someone correct me if I'm wrong? & we were held up as an exemplary CDA - with a management committee of worker co-op reps. but the only way Lambeth Council could justify funding us was job creation. I am convinced it is more important to work to support sustainability - (and that includes behavours, as you say, and a strong co-operative culture) in existing co-ops, then they will replicate because they are successful, because they work.

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