Blog Archives

News from Pat Conaty

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.

 

 

 

o

Advertisements

News from Pat Conaty – and his tribute to Richard Douthwaite

pat-conaty-bestPat’s work on Community Land Trusts was referred to recently in the West Midlands New Economics Group (WMNEG) blog: At the University of Salford, working with Community Finance Solutions, Pat  has been developing a national Community Land Trusts training programme that has been running courses since March 2011 for new groups and local authorities. He believes that Community Land Trusts offer a community led ‘bottom-up’ approach to housing issues and creative, ecological developments. There are signs of a growing interest in initiatives long advocated by the New Economics Foundation: local currencies, housing co-operatives and credit unions.

With David Bollier, Pat co-edited a report on how different democratic money and co-op capital systems can be united earlier this year. David worked for years with Ralph Nader in the USA. His summary blog follows and the report may be read in full here. He writes:

One of the more complicated, mostly unresolved issues facing most commons is how to assure the independence of commons when the dominant systems of finance, banking and money are so hostile to commoning. How can commoners meet their needs without replicating (perhaps in only modestly less harmful ways) the structural problems of the dominant money system? 

Fortunately, there are a number of fascinating, creative initiatives around the world that can help illuminate answers to this question – from co-operative finance and crowd equity schemes to alternative currencies and the blockchain ledger used in Bitcoin, to reclaiming public control over money-creation to enable “quantitative easing for people” (and not just banks).  

To help start a new conversation on these issues, the Commons Strategies Group, working in cooperation with the Heinrich Böll Foundation, co-organized a Deep Dive strategy workshop in Berlin, Germany, last September.  We brought together 24 activists and experts on such topics as public money, complementary currencies, community development finance institutions, public banks, social and ethical lending, commons-based virtual banking, and new organizational forms to enable “co-operative accumulation” (the ability of collectives to secure equity ownership and control over assets that matter to them). 

I’m happy to report that a report synthesizing the key themes and cross-currents of dialogue at that workshop is now available.  The report is called “Democratic Money and Capital for the Commons: Strategies for Transforming Neoliberal Finance Through Commons-Based Alternatives”

Frances Hutchinson, James Robertson and Joseph Huber posted papers on the Democratic Money Initiative wiki which also includes the report by David Bollier and Pat.

New to the writer was a 2011 paper by our late colleague Richard Douthwaite: Degrowth, Money and Energy. The subject of degrowth has recently been drawn to our attention by WMNEG’s Jeremy Heighway, working in Leipzig as a translator in the field of renewable energy.

Pat Conaty writes:

“What strikes me about this wonderful paper is how he creatively frames an outline of the new money commons architecture and he approaches this challenge in a multi-level way from global to national to regional. He links insightfully the fossil fuel crisis to the crash in 2008 and also highlights what the late Margrit Kennedy drew attention to, the embedded interest costs in public services and other essential goods.

“What is marvelous about this paper is the way he shows how the work to build resilience through co-operative innovation in community energy, food sovereignty, community land trusts (are implied) and regional currency can be brought together in a synergistic way. He argues for a provisioning system as Mary Mellor and Frances Hutchinson set out so well in the Politics of Money book in 2002. But he also draws attention to the kilowatt hour forms of money and tethering ideas Shann Turnbull has been articulating.”