This Saturday the weather was lovely and Stroud’s amazing weekly Farmers Market was heaving – so much going on, what with the harvest season being in full swing and the apple season just ramping up, and it was Stroud Food Week or something like that.
Stroud really is an amazing place, filled with so many amazing and committed people. Saturday saw the launch of the Stroud Pound, an alternative currency for use in Stroud. I received my first gratis pound, and will be joining the co-op (cost £5) and then buying some local notes soon, for use in places like the Stroud Bookshop and Star Anise Café.
Its an exciting thought that we might be keeping even more local money in the local economy through this – people already buy a lot of local produce here in the Stroud Valleys – the Chiemgauer from Bavarian is well established and has €3 million worth of currency in circulation. What is fascinating is that this money is spent much more than Euros, in the sense that it changes hands much more. Local currencies like this devalue over time, so there’s no gain to saving it.
Stroud also had a repeat of its Open Homes initiative to open up eco-friendly / renovated houses to the public over the weekend. I visited a couple to find out about rainwater harvesting, solar heating and some insulation challenges. I also found out unexpected things along the way, eg that you lose more heat through the mortar in joints in conventional walls than you do through the blocks (per % area or in total I don’t know) so a green new-build used very thin mortaring between blocks to combat this.
Last night I attended the local launch of The Green New Deal in Stroud.
It turns out that the New Economics Foundation and The Green Party unveiled this back in July before all the really bad banking stuff hit, and before the US elections. There’s a lot of talk of GND now in the USA, and there has been some over here since the launch in July and the UN’s backing for the (rather broad) concept.
Speakers included Colin Hines and Molly Scott-Cato, who were excellent at presenting the economic issues and possible solutions at a high level in terms everybody can understand. Issues covered very quickly included the need to write off all international debt and some mechanism of fining countries for both trade deficit and trade surplus to achieve a form of steady state economy.
In particular I was interested by the talk of wealth in terms of quality not quantity, and the increasingly convivial nature of society that will have to develop from everything being more “local”, which is something we will have little choice about soon.
I have wondered for some time what it would take for us all to get out of our brick boxes and “be” with with our neighbours more. It could be that the economic downturn and peak oil together will drive it. Watch Eastenders or have your neighbours round for dinner… which will it be?
Jade Bashford reminded everybody about the excellent Stroud Community Agriculture project, which currently has space for another 30 members or so. Locally grown organic food for little cost and a little time.
It was also very interesting to hear Martin Whiteside our local Green candidate and district councillor speak of his experience explaining the proposed solutions to passers by in the street, and how evidently the solutions seem like common sense to even “non-Greens”. Ultimately, I think everyone is a green when they stop to think about the issues. There must be so few people who actually believe we can expect no ill effects of the stress humans are putting the Earth under.
I also met the brains behind Bright Green Kids which is giving an outlet to young people who are motivated by green issue
Anyway, more info on the Green New Deal tomorrow.
I feel lucky to live in Stroud where so much seems to be happening in terms of progressive groups and ordinary people taking affirmative, position action – and I’ve met some wonderful people.