Category Archives: Pat Conaty
I first met Jane at an Energy21 awards event in London many years ago. We discussed Positive News then and on several occasions afterwards. Neither of us was happy with the type of advertisements carried in Positive News and she managed to persuade the editor to add the newspaper style supplement because she needed something more suitable to hand out to MPs. A charming and able woman.
When I sent the news of her death to Jackie Carpenter, saying I’d like to write about her, as I believe several networkers will have known her, Jackie wrote:
“Here is a story you might like to include. Back in the 90’s, Hermann Scheer, a German MP was making amazing progress with promoting renewable energy in Germany. He came to England quite a bit because he thought it was very important to persuade the UK to do likewise, to become a world leader in renewable energy. He soon got to know Jane Taylor, who used to write glowing things about him in Positive News. I met him at the launch of Eurosolar UK and later I ran the UK branch of Eurosolar for a while. Hermann also met Professor Susan Roaf, who was the first person in the UK to have a solar roof. One day he was with we three ladies. “You are my mistresses!” he said, and Jane replied, “No Hermann, that’s not the correct English word for what you mean.” Hermann laughed and went on, “I want you three to organise a lecture about renewable energy to a large audience in London!” The following year I was president of the Women’s Engineering Society and I fixed up for the lecture to be held in the Institution of Electrical Engineers. I introduced Susan who gave the talk, and Jane was the reporter, writing all about it in Positive News.
Pat Conaty ended, “This is a huge loss to co-op economy colleagues in Wales. Jane had been working with us actively in recent years on the Peoples Bank for Wales project. Indeed she played the lead role on our report that convinced the new First Minister, Mark Drakeford to back our grassroots vision in late 2018.”
Our work on a People’s Bank for Wales is advancing. Mark Drakeford the new First Minister put it in his manifesto and is committed to making this happen. We are working now with Welsh government to make this real within two years.
We ran an online course Social and Ecological Economic solutions in the past and attracted activists from 24 countries. Our partner is the Open University in Canada. The registrations will go live mid Feb. The course is free.
The need for systemic change has never been more obvious or more urgent – for people and planet. We at Synergia are reaching out to people who are committed to the common struggle for transformative change.
As an international network of senior, lifelong practitioners and community educators we are shaping our contribution around two core areas of work:
- a) Designing accessible, high quality educational resources that can be leveraged by change agents everywhere to create system changing solutions fitted to local contexts. Our online learning platform offers discussion and exchange of practical knowledge and strategies for action leading to systemic change and the provision of basic needs.
- b) Providing training and education programming to change makers – whether individuals or organizations – through intensive, face-to-face courses that fit solutions and strategic thinking to solving key issues in strategic sectors.
In 2017 we piloted a MOOC (Massive, Open, Online Course) to test our ideas, methods and tools. Over 600 people registered from 24 countries. We learned a lot. We have now targeted March 11, 2019 for the launch of the newly revised course where change makers from many fields can experience and utilize contemporary, cutting edge content to advance their work. The course will be offered in two four week segments.
The Synergia MOOC offers a certificate and we are working to secure undergraduate and Masters level accreditation. The course is free at the certificate level. The cost of degree accreditation is not yet finalized. To learn more about the theories and approaches that underpin our vision and work, visit: https://synergiainstitute.wordpress.com/
The Synergia Team
To learn more about our face-to-face programs, click here: https://vimeo.com/305934867.
If you have questions about the MOOC or if you want to discuss how we can help facilitate group learning that is geared to your priorities and objectives, please contact Michael Lewis at firstname.lastname@example.org
Pat Conaty, well-known in Birmingham for his co-founding of the Aston Reinvestment Trust with Sir Adrian Cadbury and setting up the Debt Advice Centre at the Birmingham Settlement, moved to Wales where he is promoting community housing and community land trusts (CLTs).
His work with others includes the building of a partnership between the Welsh government, co-op housing activists and non-profit housing developers to run a national demonstration project on CLTs and other forms of democratic housing including co-op rental, co-op shared equity, community self-build and co-housing.
He comments that such partnerships have long been established in Scandinavia where co-op housing is commonplace, continuing:
“As affordable housing both to own and to rent has vanished since 2010, community led-housing solutions have been emerging against the odds. Community Land Trusts in rural and urban areas, co-housing and student housing co-ops have been bootstrapped by activists . . .
“In Wales and South West England partnerships with government and local authorities and housing associations are showing how to develop effective public-social partnerships with local activists to increase the diversity of democratic housing provision and solutions”.
At the Co-op Congress in Wakefield last July, Ed Mayo asked Pat to chair the Reimagine Housing session which led to further developments with Liverpool and Leeds activists connecting CLTs and Co-op housing to speak, the Student housing co-op activists and other innovators.
This led to other meetings in early January with housing co-operatives and the head of a housing association, interested in his Commons Sense report for Co-ops UK on Co-op garden city opportunities and connections with those working in the Midlands on the use of brownfield land to develop new garden cities.