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?


Kate Whittle Wed 29 Apr 2020 5:29PM

Bit of a vague ramble, but I thought i should have a go because if I put it off I won't come back to it. So .. In a Paradise built in Hell, Rebecca Solnit says that in times of disasters - earthquakes, floods, hurricanes - people come together in new ways to solve problems, to organise to help the injured, to feed people - and that it is nearly always the authorities that mess things up. She describes how in the San Francisco earthquake in 1906 areas of the city were burned by troops' misguided efforts to burn housing to make fire breaks and that people were prevented from saving their homes. I think soemthing similar si happening now - people are coming together in new ways, making connections, working together, making and distributing food, making masks and scrubs for health and care workers. We have this great opportunity now, when everyone can see what is precious to us and what is not, which companies are helping and which are exploiting a ££ making opportunity. (See Ethical Consumers' list of top ten companies to avoid). But we have to seize the day. We know what kinds of business model works both for consumers and employees, for the environment and for the future. We have to - as ever - promote the hell out of it and demonstrate that it doesn't have to be like Dragons Den or the Apprentice. We have to identify, join and work with all the new networks that are springing up. We have to show solidarity with co-ops overseas who we can learn from. Our great strength, and something that has always given me hope is that the co-operative movement is a truly international movement - because this great new world cannot happen in one country. Not quite sure where I'm going with this i need to think on, but here's my tuppence worth for starters.


Kate Whittle Wed 29 Apr 2020 5:31PM

Not sure if I've answered the question about where to put our energies for maximum impact, I'll think on ..


Nathan Brown (Co-op Culture) Wed 29 Apr 2020 8:15PM

Unless we create an actual new economy, revolution style, abolishing or seizing property and wiping all debts, monetary instruments and ownership then my big concern for all the existing and new co-ops & alternative economic set ups is how they survive the next 12 months to be around to provide the solutions. Loans and community share offers are not the answer to the profit and loss problems. Something to focus energies on? Getting those with the money in the movement (is it one?) to spend it in the right places could be crucial. Previously it was just nice or desirable. All those assets that the movement has been slowly building up could be swooped on by the vultures as debts are defaulted on. Joining up the richer parts of the movement with the cash strapped pioneers might be a start.


Graham Thu 30 Apr 2020 11:05AM

Outside of the co-operative "movement" they call this stuff community wealth building. You are of course correct in stating that there are immediate issues of survival through the short term - the next few weeks and months. We're happy to be a fund where people can pool resources than can be quickly re-distributed to co-ops in distress - we're already doing this is small way through our operations on the Open Collective platform, where people can contribute to P5 directly here, or set up a collective under our fiscal umbrella here, and of course people are very welcome to become members of P6 here, and we're very happy to accept additional donations/contributions as part of that process, or separately. I fear that without heavy duty influence at senior levels within the large co-op orgs the impact we can have may be rather modest on that front, although of course we could launch a campaign to raise awareness amongst those players and others, and would be up for that if there's an appetite and enough people willing to put their shoulder to that wheel. Does anyone know if any other co-op orgs have yet set up a recovery/survival fund?


Nathan Brown (Co-op Culture) Fri 1 May 2020 8:48AM

I wasn't just talking about funding. I'm talking about goods and services too.


Austen Cordasco Thu 30 Apr 2020 10:04AM

Just to clarify and elaborate on the comments I made that @Graham picked up on to start this thread: our fossil-fuelled civilisation is crumbling and there is an analogy between the continual disasters that we are living through and the fall of Rome. Rome wasn’t felled in a day – an aqueduct fell into disrepair here, a bad governor was appointed there, there were local outbreaks of civil unrest and starvation and exactly one pandemic. The military was recalled from the edges of empire but eventually the centre couldn’t hold and barbarians took the capital. Those who are building the new economy are the new barbarians – we do things differently, we have a new sustainable, regenerative, responsible and ecological paradigm and we will use different currencies.

Moving from the general to the specific, what co-operative developers need to do to plan for a post-covid world is identify what sectors will need our expertise and services to repair, renew, rebuild and integrate into the new economy, exactly what services we will need to provide to them and how we manage our currency. It’s great to see that conversation has already started.


Graham Thu 30 Apr 2020 11:08AM

I'm keen to read your thoughts Austen - and others - on what those sectors and services will be. Food, clothing, shelter: can we be more focussed?


Kate Whittle Thu 30 Apr 2020 11:42AM

education? identify and get involved with 'co-operative' schools as trojan horses to get real co-operative ideas into their thinking. Talk to teachers. This is off the wall thinking I have no idea how it could be done, but seems to me useful to do a sort of brainstorm here, and filter out the non or less achievable ideas later?


Graham Thu 30 Apr 2020 12:54PM

There's a co-op trust school near me. I'll get in touch. Good spot.


Sion Whellens (Principle Six/Calverts) Thu 30 Apr 2020 10:16AM

Perhaps acting as a ‘quick response’ network so that where we see emerging a collective self-managed response in a strategically important workplace, industry or sector, we can mobilise advice and information quickly?

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