Articles

Jules from the Real Economy Lab – Good London

by .
Originally published in Good London

Imagine a city where the power lay in the hands of the people. Like in Porto Alegre Brazil, poster child of direct democracy. If it can work there, and in other places then why not here?

I’m based near Bristol and so I’m passionate about Bristol, but I work every week in London, have lived there for 15 years in the past and am proud of our capital city. Proud but ambitious for change. London could be so much more.

My vision is of the city of London being a hub for the next economy. A sustainable city run by and for the citizens which encourages flourishing lives for all and is at the cutting edge of the emerging people to people (p2p) next economy and next politics world.

Lets hold our politicians to account and get them to give power back to the people.

Imagine a city where the power lay in the hands of the people. Like in Porto Alegre Brazil, poster child of direct democracy. If it can work there, and in other places then why not here?

Lets hold our politicians to account and get them to give power back to the people. Look at Zac Goldsmith, he recently said “I want to make direct democracy a London reality”. Lets make sure whoever becomes Mayor delivers on that.

Imagine a constitution for London that put the values, principles and practices of the Common Good at its heart.

Imagine a city where the energy utility isn’t owned and controlled by some extractivist, faceless profiteer, but by the citizen-customers themselves, like the 1000s of German energy coops or the $1.2bn revenue US SMUD energy utility which serves 1.5m Californians. Imagine a city that s truly walkable and cycleable not one where cars get priority, tubes are so rammed you can hardly breath on them and our kids have to risk getting asthma going to school every day.

Imagine a city where community land trusts flourish and land value uplift is socialised for the benefit of those who need decent affordable housing not for the shareholders of billion pound property rentiers and their overseas overpaid oligarchs. A city where the commons and commoning are key to the future of life like what’s happening from Flint to Bologna.

Imagine a city that puts happiness before money

Imagine a city that puts happiness before money and really focuses on being a Happy City.  Imagine a London with its own local currency Pound as vibrant and innovative as the Bristol Pound or Bristol Prospects.

In fact I could name endless other examples in Bristol of how as a city its council, citizens, grassroots movements and businesses are putting Bristol at the cutting of the Next Economy. Both through numerous grassroots and community initiatives but also things supported by the City and through the multi-stakeholder Bristol Green Capital Partnership it’s a city that has a lot to be proud of.

London also has so much going for it. Its vibrant, multi-cultural, a hub of innovation and social enterprise. But its also breathtakingly expensive and can tend to be a hot-bed of competition and extrinsic values. So why don’t I think ‘new economy’ when I think of London? Why do I think bankers and punch and judy politics?

Whats the big vision for a London as exemplar and laboratory for a new economy? What might we do to explore this vision? How about hosting a weeklong Next Economy Summit like one a group of us we recently ran in Bristol. 

The summit could celebrate whats best about London and invite people from around the world to showcase their innovations from things as diverse as the sharing economy, the solidarity economy, the steady-state economy, the gift economy, Transition Towns, the p2p world of open-coops and platform-coops. Using open-space social technology and platforms like Represent.cc and Loomio together we could co-create this vision and start to bring it to life.

We won’t have to reinvent the wheel. There’s an exhilarating array of innovations from places as diverse as Berlin, Barcelona and Bombay and probably even some places that don’t start with B.

It won’t be smooth and easy. In a place as powerful as London the stakes are high. Powerful interests will no doubt poo poo and seek to undermine but hey, its got to be worth a shot.


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