Tuesday, 6 December 2016

Christmas may be approaching fast, but there is just time for one last 2016 co-op event before we disappear into a haze of mulled wine and mince pies.
Since the government cut the Feed in Tariffs, a lot of very smart people have been determined to prevent it slowing down the community energy movement. A new kind of business model is beginning to emerge, that is smarter, more participatory and less reliant on government support. As it happens, it could be an ideal format for urban energy co-ops - and we think Taunton should be first in line.
Do please come and join us on Wednesday 14th at 3pm for a presentation on how smart solar storage could shut down fossil fuel generators across the UK (not too technical) and how it could work in almost any community.
Please check out the attached poster and circulate far and wide - and the event is listed on Facebook, so let us know if you're coming.
Oh, and... there will be mince pies.

Friday, 4 November 2016

Autumn newsletter

Every so often, we get together a newsletter - and here's the latest one. There's news on community owned renewable energy, forging ahead despite unhelpful government policies; some handy pointers for funding and support; news of a pioneering scheme for hiring E-bikes by the half hour; and an update on audacious plans to start the UK's very first rail co-operative, with a route starting in Somerset.
Click for a download.

Thursday, 30 June 2016

Going places: co-operative transport solutions

Our events for Co-ops Fortnight will conclude tomorrow with 'Going Place' in Taunton. We will have two presentations - one from Alex Lawrie on GO-OP, the new co-operative rail operator proposing a new route form Taunton to Nuneaton (an ambitious plan, that still requires the consent of the Office of Rail and Road); and one from Mark Hodgson of Co-Cars who will bring their hi-tech car club operation to Taunton soon.
These two projects show how grassroots activism in communities can meet real needs and give rise to fast growing, technologically sophisticated social enterprises. What's more, those enterprises can remain firmly connected to the communities that gave rise to them, using membership participation to continually improve and adapt to the changing world.
Come along to 10 East Reach between 1pm and 3pm to find out more - and please stick around for the Annual General Meeting of SCS CIC at 4.30pm.

Saturday, 25 June 2016

Some words of advice for Co-opertives Fortnight.... from 1883

This is well worth a read... the University of Bristol have kindly dug this fascinating document out from their archives and scanned it for me. It is a co-operator considering the way forward for the movement 130 years ago, and I feel he has some entirely worthwhile suggestions for us in 2016. Consider this: "It may be said there is no need for new starts. If what there is is good, we have only to move on in the same line... the fact is that money that has been saved by our working classes is constantly being returned... it is almost certain that a great deal of this returned or unsaved money is being wasted... There is a great opportunity for us to do a great deal more for our fellow-men [sic] if only the zeal, the mutual trustfulness, the singleness of purpose, the power of combination of higher efforts can be found."

Friday, 24 June 2016

Brexit and the co-operative movement

So, we are to leave. What does that mean for co-ops?
Firstly, the coming recession (or at least, downturn) will mean that people turn to co-ops to fill the gap left by capitalist enterprises in retreat, and public services in decline.
The introduction of trade tariffs will be a further shock, but may create opportunities for import-substituting Worker co-ops. The rising cost of imports may also boost the recycling economy, where co-ops are historically strong.
Interest rates could go either way,  and house prices will also display volatility; not good conditions for housing co-ops and CLTs to operate in. Local currencies may well become more valuable relative to sterling, and community shares may benefit from a lack of reliable investment options.
The damage to social capital may be the biggest threat. Co-ops that bring together rich and poor, young and old, town and country, are needed more than ever; but the sharp contrast in values and visions may spill over into internal conflicts. Finding new, shared goals to unite around must be the first priority.

Saturday, 18 June 2016

SCS newsletter celebrates Co-operatives Fortnight 2016

Our summer newsletter contains a full timetable of the five (yes, five) events that are coming up around Somerset where you can learn more about the continuing growth of the co-operative movement. Events are taking place from Glastonbury to Wiveliscombe, with the first on the 24th June at 10 East Reach in Taunton. And there's more: the brand new Hive is offering free advice and support for new co-operatives, there is big news around co-operative housing and community supported agriculture, and much more - all packed into just eight pages.

Monday, 7 March 2016

“So I’ve heard”
Part of Somerset Co-operative Services’ Community Organising project, “So I’ve heard” is a new blog about our work in and around the Glastonbury area – supported by the Community Organisers Mobilisation Fund (COMFund).

The blog is written by SCS’s Co-operative Community Organiser Jon Cousins, and his latest post is about the launch of a new Community Supported Agriculture business: Plotgate CSA – a co-operative aiming to “grow local food for local people, and sharing the fun of farming.”

Why not take a look? “So I’ve heard”