On the 24th of October Birmingham Pound and The Guild of Independent Currencies organised a workshop day full of inspiration, innovation and information about how you can develop local currency projects in your own community. The event took place in The Impact Hub in Digbeth, Birmingham.
We welcomed delegates from Bristol, Brixton, Exeter, Belgium, Liverpool and Sheffield to name a few! The day went very well, with some interesting discussions. We spoke about what makes a local business. Is it the fact that it is independent and completely owned by an independent local resident? Or is a franchise that uses a national or international name but is owned locally by a local resident and staffed with local staff also a local business?
We also spoke about trade and member engagement; how else to incentivise businesses to sign up and how we can both benefit from the use of an independent currency. For example, perhaps currency schemes can offer business insurance or other similar benefits of using the currency.
We had a session on communications and how to understand and deliver our message to our different audiences, from the general public to academics, businesses to the local city council.
There was also a discussion about additional projects that run alongside and complement the currencies in different cities, such as the Brixton Fund, the Brixton Bonus. The Brixton Fund is the Brixton Pound’s micro-grants fund, financed by revenue from the Brixton Bonus (which is a monthly community lottery).
The Fund supports local individuals and groups that might struggle to access larger funding pots, and work in Brixton to:
Strengthen and benefit communities
Take action for social justice
Increase local employment opportunities
This means that the currency goes that bit further for immediate benefit.
We also spoke of the Real Economy project in Bristol, which is “a food cooperative for people who care about food and our food system. We’re committed to sourcing fresh and locally produced food as directly as possible from the people who grow and make it, and to giving them a fair price for their produce.” Also, another way to take the work of the independent currency that bit further in supporting the communities that don’t have easy access to fresh produce, and finding a way to get it to them.
In all, it was a good day with some great conversations, which felt like they were starting to move further than before.
The full agenda from the day is available here and there are links on the right-hand side of the page to some of the presentations that were delivered.