Since Lowimpact began as LILI in 2001, we’ve offered a constantly increasing bank of information, courses, products, services, books, magazines, links, videos and advice for people wanting to change their lives – to live in a more sustainable and less corporate way.
We’ve realised though, that you need a certain amount of time on your hands to do things like grow your own veg, keep chickens, make your own soap, gain a craft skill etc. – and even more so to install renewables, become a smallholder or build your own home.
We know that not everyone is ‘time-rich’ – a lot of people have (more than) full-time jobs, and just don’t have the time to do (m)any of the things in our ‘topics’ section. They still have to buy the essentials of life though (food, energy, phone, clothes etc.), and maybe have a little money in a (corporate) bank savings account. The oft heard refrain is ‘what can I do?’, to which the answer is: move your money – i.e. aim it towards the non-corporate rather than the corporate sector.
I suppose that up ’til now, we’ve taken the ‘money is the root of all evil’ approach, but really, there are some fantastic initiatives out there that are starved of funds, and we’d like to help them attract more money to do more of what they do.
There are already extremely clever, committed people building alternatives to the current environmentally-damaging, undemocrating and frankly, ugly system. You don’t have to work out how to develop a community energy scheme, a community-supported agriculture project or a credit union (unless you want to of course) – people have already done it for you.
We’d love to help this sector to grow – because not only will it provide more and more of the things that we need, and starve the corporate sector of funds, it will also provide jobs. We know lots of young people who bemoan the fact that they have to find work in the corporate sector just to pay for a roof over their heads – even though they hate it, they can’t find alternatives. Let’s grow the non-corporate sector to provide those alternatives (including apprenticeships). But to do that, they need money.
Click here for lots of options. First, I have to declare an interest about the top item on the list – I was recently elected to the board of the Ecological Land Co-op. However, when I say ‘interest’, I don’t mean financial interest – I’m not getting paid for it. My ‘interest’ is in getting land into the hands of ordinary people, and getting them planning permission to build their own natural home and live mortgage-free. Wouldn’t it be great if more of us could do that?
One criticism we sometimes hear of the non-corporate sector is that it’s expensive, and the classic example is the £3.50 ‘artisan’ loaf from an independent local bakery. Yes, you can get bread for £1.50 from a supermarket, but the problem is that it will be corporate-produced, farmer-squeezing, environmentally-damaging, not-very-nutritious bread – and who wants that? Unfortunately, if we want to build a non-corporate sector, we’re going to have to pay for it. Not everyone will be able to afford it, but many will, and so it’s up to them to blaze the trail, until the price comes down for everyone else. Meanwhile, as more money pours into this sector, employment opportunities will increase, and ultimately, a £3.50 loaf is less of a problem when you’re baking it.
Finally, we plan to organise a conference / gathering next year for this sector. More information on this soon – we’re putting together a working group to organise it. We’ll invite key speakers from the fields of energy, food, land, housing, employment, computing, banking etc. to talk about the problems that they face in their fields, and to discuss how we might be able to help each other to remove them and grow the non-corporate sector. For example, community energy schemes can’t provide electricity directly to their members, because the licence is so expensive that it’s only affordable by the energy giants, and so they have to sell the energy that they generate to the grid at 5p per unit, then buy it back at 15p per unit. Who, outside the community energy sector knew that? It will be the same for all the other parts of the non-corporate sector. Corporations don’t want money diverted from them, and they’ll use governments (via political donations, the corporate lobby industry and jobs for the boys and girls) to make sure that it’s as difficult as possible.
It’s not all about ‘struggle’ these days – there are positive things happening to slowly build a new kind of society right now. Please consider steering your money towards them.
The views expressed in our blog are those of the author and not necessarily lowimpact.org's