An Annual Meeting with a differenceThis week the People’s Republic of Stoke’s Croft hosted ‘Local Currencies: the Rebellious Act’, a space to come together and reimagine our local currency in a wider context – as one of many local currencies acting together in open rebellion against a failing global money system.
In a world of ever-increasing connectivity, we are more aware than ever of the problems humanity faces. Thinking about fixing some of the global systems creating these issues can be daunting at best and can often be downright depressing.
But here in Bristol, we won’t let that stop us! This city, and our world, is shaped through every action we take. It’s up to us to choose the world we want to live in, by doing stuff. In Bristol, more and more of us are choosing a world where we put people first, not profits, by doing some or all of the stuff on the list below.
Last week we hosted the UK-wide premiere of Demain. Tickets were sold out and we all left the venue buzzing with renewed enthusiasm. The film revealed all the potential, showing us just some of the many alternatives happening around us, which we can be a part of to bring about the better world we all know is possible.
So, in 2017, we’re looking at 7 broken systems and how to fix them – 7 actions you can take right now in Bristol (like right this minute), to change the world.
1. FIX THE MEDIA – Join the Bristol Cable
Problem: Recent years have seen a decided downturn in trust, viability and quality of traditional media outlets, locally and nationally. Yet, it is more important than ever to have unbiased reporting and accountability which challenges power with the interest of people at its heart.
Solution: What luck, here in Bristol we have a media co-operative! The Bristol Cable is created and owned by over 1480 people in the city. They provide online news and events as well as a quarterly print edition and distribute it across the city. You can join the co-op from £1 a month, and once you’ve joined you own the media, not some media baron or shareholders in some distant company. You. So, join now and give control of media back to the people: thebristolcable.org
(Want news, features and ‘what’s on’ around Bristol? Follow B24/7 a Community Interest Company)
2. FIX THE STREETS – Go to an Incredible Edible work party
Problem: The mainstream food system has moved food production into some far off land, out of view. Meanwhile, our cities have been left with ugly, unused spaces and disconnected communities.
Solution: Hey, what if instead of disused lots and uninspired corporate planting, we had edible gardens created by local communities? Well, we do! Incredible Edible Bristol has over 30 edible gardens across the city – they’ve taken over underused land and made gorgeous gardens. They’re in places like Millennium Square, the Bear Pit, right next to St Mary Redcliffe and just off the roundabout next to Temple Meads. They’re everywhere and they’re for everyone. And who is Incredible Edible? Well, it could be you. You can go along to an Incredible Edible group near you, learn about growing food, and when the food’s ripe for the picking it’s anyone’s for the taking! The events are free and frequent – have a look here and just tun up to any session: ediblebristol.org.uk
3. JOIN THE FOOD REVOLUTION – Order a Veg Box
Problem: The mainstream food system involves over-intensive farming which relies on chemicals and fossil fuels and leads to soil degradation and loss of natural habitat. Vast amounts of food we could grow here in the UK is imported from across the globe, with massive carbon footprints.
Solution: Get a local, organic veg box delivered to your door. Take your pick from: Community Farm, Bristol Veg Boxes, Sims Hill Shared Harvest and Real Economy Coop. The more people support this way of producing food, the more food will be produced this way. And hey, they all take Bristol Pounds too.
4. FIX SOMETHING! Anything!
Problem: Throw away culture and ‘planned obsolesce’ (stuff designed to break) make us use up more resources, and leaves us with piles of waste and no handy skills.
Solution: Fixing something instead of replacing it is the new vogue! Plus, it can reduce resource use, save you money and give you practical skills and a sense of accomplishment! There’s sooo many How To videos on the internet to help you do it, or you can go to Craftisan for crafty things or go along to Bristol Repair Café for help fixing stuff, and when it comes to bikes there’s a Women’s Night at the Bristol Bike Project.
5. FREE US FROM FOSSIL FUELS – Change your energy supplier
Problem: The big six energy suppliers are profit-hungry fossil fuel guzzlers. They keep prices high long after the cost of energy production has fallen and primarily use fossil fuels to generate electricity literally costing us the earth.
Solution: Switch to a local, renewable energy tariff. Right now. Just go to Bristol Energy or Good Energy and get a quote. See what you think. As more of us move onto green tariffs we show our demand is for clean energy. Pay your bills in Bristol Pounds for a joining bonus.
6. REBUILD THE ‘GIFT ECONOMY’ – Join Helpfulpeeps
Problem: Over the last century, many of us have become disconnected from our communities. When we need a helping hand, we don’t know who to turn to. And if we have skills and resources and want to help others, we don’t know how to find those in need.
Solution: Here in Bristol we’ve got Helpfulpeeps. It’s an online platform where we can ask for help, and earn Karma when we help others. This is what’s called the ‘gift economy’, where we give without expecting anything in return, but instead earn the respect of our community.
7. CHANGE MONEY – Sign up as a member of the Bristol Pound
Problem: Every time we spend money in a corporate business it leaves the city and heads off via London to places like the Cayman Islands, instead of being respent in the real economy and stimulating our local economy. On top of that, banking and the money system exploits us and the inequality gap is increasing.
Solution: Become a member of Bristol Pound. Switch your sterling into Bristol Pounds each month and spend it in business which are also members. Every Bristol Pound is a commitment to spend locally and when you pass it on, you also pass on that commitment. Money circulates around the local economy, supports local independent businesses and is protected from abuse by the system. Using Bristol Pounds, we keep money circulating in the real economy, supporting local jobs and keeping the power of money with the people.
By doing the things on the this list, you are choosing a world where people come before profits. This list is not exhaustive and doing these things won’t solve the problems overnight, but if we want a healthy, happy city which is world-renowned for leading by example this is the way to achieve it. There is such power of just doing stuff.
So, let’s make a New Year’s revolution.
There’s no denying it: ‘tis the festive season. And for many of us that means getting gifts for loved ones and gathering goodies to enjoy over the festive period. Bristol’s streets are a-buzzing with merriment.
There’s something you can do to make the season of gift-buying and goodie-gathering a whole heap more fun for you, better for Bristol AND the global economy.
Use Bristol Pounds!
Take up the challenge and spread the love this season. Switch that Sterling for beautiful Bristol Pounds, then when you go spend it you’ll be building and protecting what we all love about Bristol, and helping make our city fairer, greener and more vibrant.
Here at Bristol Pound HQ we want to make this as easy as possible for everyone so we’ve put together 5 ways to help you be a hero this Christmas. I’ve added links, so if you like what you see, give it a click to find out more:
- The Bristol Pound advent calendar. We’re putting together a giant advent calendar and popping it in the St Nicks Market foyer. Each day, we’ll open the next door to reveal a special deal for Bristol Pound users to help you with your shopping! What’s that? You won’t be able to join us in the St Nick’s foyer every morning throughout December? Well okay, we’ll post it up on social media each morning too! Like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter to keep up-to-date.
- The Bristol Pound Christmas market. We’re arranging a day of festivity on the 10th December at the Bristol Energy Hub on the waterfront. We’ll have: local craft and produce stalls; live music; free mince pies; Caring at Christmas are doing a wrapping service; you can win a Real Economy hamper; you can pick up the latest Bristol Pound business map and you can find out more about all the things you can do with Bristol Pounds (I can guarantee you don’t know all the things you can do with Bristol Pounds!). Plus, we’re right next to the Harbourside Market, where plenty of folk take the Bristol Pound. More info here.
- Our new Bristol Pound Map of central Bristol – more detailed than ever, stretching from Temple Meads to the Grain Barge and from Wapping Wharf to the Bear Pit, you’ll find 128 shops, pubs, cafes, hair dressers, homeware stores, florists, and much, much more. We’ll be handing them out at the market, but also sending one out to every Bristol Pound member.
- Indies in Bristol – a brand-new, city-wide event to celebrate Bristol’s amazing independent businesses and encourage Bristolians to shop local for Christmas. The main hub is in the Station courtyard (The Old Fire Station) in the city centre, where a central traders market of gifts, street food and a bar will be based. We’ll have a Bristol Pound ‘bank’ at the entrance of the event for your to switch to Bristol Pounds. Plus, we’re also doing a talk at 12.45. See you there! More info here.
- Bristol Pound Trail – as part of the Indies in Bristol event, we’ve put together a pretty special little trail for you to follow – it’s a neat little trip in and around St Nick’s Market. Start at Beast Clothing to pick up your Bristol Pounds (they’re a ‘cash point’) – you can switch Sterling notes, pay on card or withdraw from your Bristol Pound account. Then visit a bunch of businesses waiting to give you discounts and offers if you use Bristol Pounds! More info here.
It’s easier than ever to do the Bristol Pound Christmas Challenge this year – so let’s change our money, change the world and have ourselves a jolly good time doing it.
Adam and the Bristol Pound team
That’s right, Bristol is now the first city to have both its own money and its own energy company!
It gets better: Bristol Energy is a force for social good, a gas and electricity company that will reinvest its profits straight back into the city, supporting essential services and local communities. It’s the first of its kind in the South West. We’re chuffed to bits to come together with Bristol Energy and work to keep money circulating locally, protecting Bristol jobs and creating a fairer, greener local economy.
Peter Haigh, Managing Director of Bristol Energy, had this to say:
“We believe energy companies have the power to make a positive difference. If you pay your bills with Bristol Energy, your money doesn’t just disappear into the pockets of private shareholders, it will help us to support your city. As a Bristol-born company we’re very proud to offer our customers the chance to pay in Bristol Pounds, helping even more of the money made in the city, stay local to the city.”
So, now you can pay for Bristol Energy using Bristol Pounds. But it gets even better than that. When you switch electric and gas quoting BPOUND001, Bristol Energy will give you £B20 and give us £B10! (Or £B10 for you and £B5 for us for one fuel)
Switch now and be the change we all need!
“The morning after the Brexit vote, I was sitting in Small Street Espresso feeling pretty bewildered. As I paid for my coffee with text to pay, it occurred to me (and gave me some comfort) that by using the Bristol Pound it was a way of bypassing national political craziness and keeping things small and local. Our currency makes both a local and collective statement. It made the day a little brighter (and still does each time I use the currency).” Nick Hand, Director of the Letterpress Collective CIC