Community entrepreneurs share know-how for running low-carbon businesses
On a blustery February evening Preeti and I headed to the Museum of Cinema History for a gathering of 90+ people convinced that low-carbon, local business is the future. The day was hosted by REconomy LIFT, a new initiative from Transition London & South East, an inspiring group of people with thriving green businesses which range from school buildings with solar panels to hyperlocal food markets, landfill saving repair shops to veg grown in every space imaginable. Green business is springing up everywhere!
REconomy + Transition Network
REconomy (Local Innovation For Transition) is a network where people share knowledge and support ‘resilience, sustainability, equality and wellbeing.’ All this is essential given the changes to the planet and the ripping up of critical climate agreements.
Transition Network is a welcoming movement for proactive people who want to create low carbon local communities. It’s ‘Light touch’ and forward thinking with a global following. If you’re interested in this movement, find your local Transition group here:
Lucy Neal (Transition Tooting) got us off to an imaginative start, suggesting we recall a scene from a film we’d watched as children. In my mind I was the giant being tied up in Gulliver’s Travels – I never enjoyed being told what to do as a kid!
A few of my favourite things from Lucy and Andrew’s talks…my comments in italics.
- Experiment. Can we do things differently?
- Urgency, joy, creativity.
- Questions – ask, listen and be curious.
- Capturing common sense. How about public services run by social enterprises, cooperatives and local businesses?
- RBS 7 billion up the creek, banks and how to improve them. I’m glad we’re gathering ethical banking services – it’s easy to switch!
- Money: putting it to better use. Lots of examples by people running Transition-influenced small businesses. Blue Patch offer our business model to others here blog
- Business rates, the cost of retail space and the demise of the High Street. We are helping our members to reduce the costs of events, retail spaces, supply chain, waste materials, knowledge, time-banking. Interested? Please get in touch. Blue Patch helps small business owners to collaborate.
- Carbon emissions. Experts clearly think it’s unlikely to stay at safe levels. Okay, we’ll get it together Transition Network, REconomy, Blue Patch plus all proactive people out there, the more we share knowledge and projects the more chance we have of slowing climate change.
- Transition must be open to other organisations. My experiences as an ‘outsider’ show me that Transition is like a delicate but strong weave that connects people who share a mission, a vision even. This is a global movement.
Sustainable entrepreneurs speak:
The keynote was followed by local entrepreneurs sharing their projects: Karen Jones and Laura Marchant-Short – Crystal Palace Food Market, Tom Steele Kentish Town Pegbox, Richard Watson – Energise Sussex Coast/Schools Energy Co-op & Community Energy South, Chris Rowland – Ovesco, Meadow Blue Community Energy (MBCE), Community Energy South, Sarah McAdam – Transition Network, Duncan Law – Transition Town Brixton, Michael Stuart & Sophia Flucker – Transition Kensal to Kilburn.
To listen to people who are running successful low carbon local businesses is massively encouraging – no one says it’s easy, but if we share the journey and support each other we can do it!
Afternoon business skills workshops
Tea and cakes were followed by Workshops: Sharing skills.
Preeti Bonthron (Digital Marketing and Business Development at Blue Patch) got started with a few basic pointers: what problem will the business address, how will it sustain financially, who are the competitors? We’d love to have more time sincewriting a business plan is actually fun – it’s the story of your business.
If you are thinking of starting a business, Blue Patch is currently developing incubator memberships (Please email us to express your interest).
There were also workshops on fundraising, creative arts, business structures and communicating REconomy- lots of knowledge being shared.
What comes next
To finish up – there is no finish, we love being part of this welcoming group of people! There is enough energy and common sense at work here to make REconomy the most important thing we can possibly do. We share a mission to empower through business and help low carbon communities to flourish.
If you’d like to see what Blue Patch get up to here’s our newsletter.
If you are planning or running a business we’d love to help you:
Please contact Blue Patch Team for more information on Membership.