SSC 2018 – End of Autumn course: ‘Communities of the Future’ update and next steps

 

Dear All

The next SSC Scholar event incorporating the usual monthly planning meeting, a mini-workshop on envisioning Emergent Learning evaluations, and a small SSC community celebration with regard to studies completed, the impending arrival of winter et al is scheduled to take place on Saturday 15 December 2018 at The Mansions of the Future commencing at 10am for a 12 noon completion. 

(Oh my giddy Aunt, how terribly corporate and academically tedious the above all sounds – apologies!)

In essence: Hello everyone, just to let you know that we are getting together on the 15th to have a warm, collective conversation on how can we supportively and pragmatically share our learning journey with each other and the wider community. Please note we will be meeting in the first floor Boardroom, and access is via the former NFU building doorway.

In the spirit of openness and co-operative learning, the first session of the 2019 New Year will be billed as ‘Emergent Learning’ – which simply aims to welcome the whole of our SSC community to show what has been accomplished during the previous term, including: what scholars thought of the learning experience, discuss whether the individual sessions raised further queries in relation to deeper understanding, awareness, connections to other issues studied, are there calls for different styles of learning or more of the same, and so on.

A number of scholars felt that a session dedicated to Emergent Learning (EL) was crucial, and that additionally, the New Year EL session will be of particular interest to those former/lapsed/new scholars who have indicated they wish to become more involved next year, and perhaps offer to facilitate some future learning sessions. Further detailed information on the EL session and also the requirement for an AGM will become available to the SSC Community before the New Year. Dates for your new 2019 diaries are: January 12th and 26th

As a recap for all scholars in relation to the EL session, the SSC Autumn 2018 learning schedule “Communities of the Future: Imagining an alternative and more just society” included:

Date Session Facilitator
29th Sept 2018

 

Ownership Bradley
13th Oct 2018

 

History of Co-operative Lincoln David
27th Oct 2018

 

Permaculture Lucy and Laura S
10th Nov 2018

 

Eco-Anarchism Philip
24th Nov 2018

 

Women’s Struggles Laura S and Sarah
Notably, all the learning sessions were planned, researched, and delivered exclusively by scholars for scholars, and of course, as always, endeavoured to welcome and include anyone else who happened to chance upon us…

If you were unable to attend during the 2018 Autumn term, some individual scholars have kindly provided their own insights and/or interpretations of the above sessions, and these are available on the SSC website: https://socialsciencecentre.org.uk/

As well as preparing for the Emergent Learning session, and after our customary monthly planning discussions, we will be indulging in a social nibble and natter – as you do at the end of term. For those who also wish to use the opportunity to celebrate the advent of winter (but, not necessarily in the sense of the all-foreboding “Winter is Coming”) and/or communally observe your personal belief at this time of the year, there is also a proposal to dress as festive as you feel, although this is entirely optional!

Nevertheless, if you are able to join us of the 15th, in the spirit of sharing, please could you kindly let us know you will be attending and bring something edible for yourself and one or more other persons to nibble upon. Now, to be perfectly frank (or indeed, betty), I like hummus as much as the next veggie bod, and do not wish to be all ‘Victorian Dad’ about it (see Viz for further details), but we did have a bit of trouble consuming the vast myriad of pots of Hummi(?) and innumerable breaded items at the AGM in May.

In acknowledgement of the massive environmental impact of food waste in this country alone, and the heart breaking global crises of food poverty, it may seem so petty to ask, but, if you are willing to ‘Bring and Share’, please would you let us know what your edible contribution is likely to be by emailing: kiplincs@gmail.com

 
Already listed is vegetarian pasta bolognaise (lactose free) and veggie Lemon Drizzle Cake. Any surplus contributions will be taken to the YMCA/Nomad directly afterwards.

Looking forward to seeing you on the 15th of December (whether you are wearing a festive jumper or not!)

All the best
 

Fen

SSC Learning Session: Permaculture

Presented by Laura S and Lucy on Saturday 27 October 2018

10am – Mansions of the Future, Lincoln

So you thought Duplo® bricks were merely innocuous kid’s toys, huh?

Take a look-see below:

See those seemingly innocent stacks of bright and friendly looking bricks; they actually had the ability to cause not only a fully-fledged, and at times, heated debate, but also a personal reminder of what matters in life…

The stacks of bricks were a visual representation of average addition to climate change per capita in the UK alone. However, not necessarily accounted for, were also:

  • Trade off emissions (particularly between countries – usually the developed over the developing world)
  • Waste
  • Economics
  • Cows
  • Transport
  • Home energy wastage

Further brick stacks illustrated the cost to the earth of using air travel…

But, what has this got to do with Permaculture?

In providing a detailed, well researched referenced background, Laura S informed us of the principles, purpose and ethics of Permaculture:

Earth care, People Care, Fair Share

 

Permaculture: as a definition

“Permaculture combines three key aspects:

  1. An ethical framework
  2. Understandings of how nature works
  3. A design approach

This unique combination provides an ethical framework that is used to design regenerative systems at all scales – from home and garden to community, farm and bioregions.

The word ‘permaculture’ comes originally from ‘permanent agriculture‘ and ‘permanent culture‘ – it is about living lightly on the planet, and making sure that we can sustain human activities for many generations to come, in harmony with nature.

Permanence is not about everything staying the same. It is about stability, about deepening soils and cleaner water, thriving communities in self-reliant regions, biodiverse agriculture, and social justice, peace and abundance”.

(Permaculture Association: retrieved November 2018 from https://www.permaculture.org.uk/knowledge-base/basics)

 

A learning resource in the form of handwritten statements citing the two of the main Permaculture protagonists (Frost and Stevens?) were passed between scholars. Laura explained that although at first the authors were in agreement on the fundamentals of permaculture, eventually their philosophy diverged as they separately considered what ultimate outcome was required and proposed how to achieve it:

A picture illustrating example of the written statements

Based on the learning resources provided, scholars discussed and debated the local, national and global impact of our lifestyles on the earth’s resources. Arguably, the passionate exchanges in relation to Carbon Offsetting caused the most intense and divided opinion, but as an observation, also expertly illustrated the depth and breadth of knowledge and all consuming interest in the subject matter by the scholars present, regardless of their own political persuasion.

It was stated that: “Capitalism is eating itself” i.e. by disrespecting and abusing the very resources it actually needs to survive…

The counter argument contended that: Yes, but we are ALL buying in to it”

Scholars offered suggestions for alternatives, but on observation, did we ultimately blame others and shrugged off our responsibility by using Capitalism and its fanatical proponents as scapegoats? Are we as individuals, daily buying into and knowledgeably using the exact same system, whether we ‘buy’ green products or not, just as guilty of ‘Greenwash’ as those businesses who claim to be mitigating the decimation of nature through utilising technological advancements that rely on as wind, solar, water power instead?

A video on ‘Carbon Offsetting’ is available here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vM0RrobKcrk

Lucy then brought Permaculture as an alternative lifestyle into vivid focus through deftly sharing her own experience of recently spending several months living and working ‘off grid’ at The Grange near Thetford Forest in Norfolk. In relating how permaculture principles were enacted at The Grange, Lucy illustrated how self-sufficiency not only created a much-needed haven for nature, but also provided a refuge for refugees through weekly work details (Workday Wednesdays) that professed to deliver physical, mental, emotional and spiritual support. A large team of support agencies/partner organisations aimed to assist those attending The Grange to build their own personal resilience, and in the wider and longer term, advocates of The Grange, (and of such places of a similar ilk around the UK), aim to create a network of places of sanctuary equally for the benefit of all animal and human kind…

A link to The Grange website is available, but please do take time to find a guest post on the website from a young Egyptian Refugee here: https://www.thegrangenorfolk.org.uk/index.php/blog/34-salah-s-article (Lucy kindly provided a printed copy of the post to each of the SSC scholars present at the Permaculture learning session).

Laura S and Lucy also spoke of newly-establishing permaculture principle-type projects and protagonists that were beginning to emerge in and around Lincoln/Lincolnshire and elsewhere such as Transition Towns, City of Sanctuaries, etc.

As a personal observation, I felt this learning session enabled scholars to consider how the SSC could be involved and/or support local projects considering permaculture as a way forward in terms of providing breathing spaces for, and of hope, as well offering an attempt to explore an alternative solution i.e. Communities of the Future

Ends

FKJ

Thoughts on Eco-Anarchism at the SSC

Hi folks,
In lieu of proper note taking, please see below some of my thoughts on the fantastic session on Saturday on eco-anarchism at the SSC!
The topic for discussion was anarchism and specifically the social ecology and libertarian municipalism of Murray Bookchin. The concept of assemblies where all members of a community can vote, as well as a higher level of groups of assemblies holding each other to account to some degree on issues that impact multiple communities appealed to me, although there was a discussion of what this would look like in practice. In particular we discussed the idea of what anarchism means, with many definitions aiming for the abolishment of the state, and all forms of hierarchy. We discussed whether this is feasible and whether Bookchin’s theory abolishes hierarchy or simply certain, unaccountable, forms of hierarchy. Is this enough?
Particularly interesting for me were discussions of what we can draw from this mode of thinking and how we can apply it to our lives, in Lincoln, today. The school of thought does not offer an exact blueprint for a utopian society – rather perhaps ways of organising and approaching collective problems. Perhaps attempting to run for positions or influence the structure of local councils is something suggested to us by Bookchin, although within anarchism this is a controversial topic.
We also saw a video of the Zapatista movement in Mexico, getting a glimpse of how they operate along these lines and what life might look like for them (the video has been emailed out to the group). In particular we discussed how there is a connection to an understanding of the land and the produce that comes from it and is then worked with and consumed by the community there that is very different to the relationship we have with food and other products here in urban Lincoln. How would anarchist organising look differently for us in our different context here in Lincoln?
We also discussed the pressing issue of climate change, and how ‘time is running out’. How do we respond to this? And how might Bookchin’s thoughts help us with this? We also discussed how for some parts of the world time isn’t running out – it’s already ran out and climate change is a daily reality for them.
We discussed a lot more – this is just the stuff that stood out to me!
I’d welcome reflections from anyone else there too 🙂
Hope you are all well,
Bradley