Small initiatives/ideas all add up to big changes

Reading Naomi Klein’s ‘This Changes Everything’, I was really excited to come across a list (which I can’t find now, of course) of simple, logical ideas that could have a big impact. I often get small ideas of things which I think would be really useful in reducing our consumption of new things, bringing communities together etc.

I thought we could start sharing those here, see what builds up.

From This Changes Everything: that all phones have to have the same charging port size, so reducing having to produce lots of new chargers for different phones. This could be expanded to include laptop and computer charger sizes etc. Also, the option to buy a new phone (or any electrical item), with or without electrical cables.

Another idea I had ages ago: some way of communally pooling tools that aren’t used regularly, like lawn mowers, or pressure washers etc. That would immediately reduce the production of them, and I think that the neighbourhood shared ownership would mean that items would be more likely to be mended than thrown away. They could also be purchased communally, so reducing individual cost, and funds/manpower pooled to fix them/look after them. It might also increase a sense of ‘neighbourhood’.

Those are my starters for ten :slightly_smiling_face:

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All fantastic ideas. I understand that some of it is actually being done - I was told earlier that in the city of Bath there is a Library of Things which get repaired and shared communally i.e. things like steam cleaners. And that there are Repair Cafes springing up around the place. I’m planning to look into it as I’m pretty good at repairing stuff…

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Absolutely! :grin: There’s a Tool Library here in Brisbane, as well as a number of “Mens Sheds” and I read about a Toy Library which had unfortunately been caught in floods somewhere else in Queensland earlier this year.

Michel Bauwens talks about a car-sharing initiative in Ghent, Belgium - https://www.degage.be/autodelen/ - which seems to have been expanded to bicycles as well. Their statistics (picked up today and showed in the screenshot below) are rather impressive.

George Monbiot uses a phrase I like to repeat: “Private sufficiency and public luxury”. I thought a lot about this in summer, in regard to swimming pools. Here in Brisbane, there are so many backyard pools which hardly get used, while the public pools are so overcrowded on hot days as to make their use an unpleasant experience for anyone who has sensitivity to crowds and/or noise. Having more public pools and fewer private ones would be a much smarter way to use our resources - water, building materials, chemicals etc.

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Don’t fancy moving to a forest in France by any chance? :star_struck:

I think this could be brilliant. I’m just wondering though, how do you see more public pools being managed? Would they be community managed? Private? Or run by the local area?

Probably a mix. I’ve seen each of these management structures work ok, depending on context, although the private management approach probably wouldn’t work so well with a proper abundance of pools (fewer customers per pool). In the longer term, I would like to see us moving more towards a Commons structure – no surprises there, I’m sure! :wink:

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I’m very partial to the idea of ‘libraries of things’. Even from a purely self-serving, financial perspective it seems utterly daft that every person/family should feel the need to buy tools and equipment that they use only once in a blue moon and which otherwise sits in a shed or garage gathering rust.

In-keeping with this free-sharing of physical items is the notion of the free-sharing of skills and knowledge. ‘Ragged Universities’ - https://www.raggeduniversity.co.uk/about/presentations/ - are programs of educational events set up by community members to disseminate information and practical skills, using existing infrastructure (pubs, cafes, museums, parks etc.) as ‘classrooms’.

This is a bit of a triple whammy for me - firstly, people can learn for free - both increasing their intellectual understanding of the world in which they live (and thus improving their responses to it) and developing attributes that allow them to live more sustainably (if you have a collective of folks who together can teach sewing, plumbing, car maintenance, DIY, gardening, brewing, foraging etc. then that makes a massive contribution to community resilience and should reduce consumption locally).

Secondly, like the libraries of things, it gets people thinking in different ways about how we manage resources and brings people together as communities, laying the foundations for other initiatives. Finally, it can be used to support good people doing good things - public institutions, struggling pubs, cooperative businesses etc. - channeling expenditure (of income, time and energy) into local enterprises, and thus enriching residents’ neighborhoods.

All good stuff!

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I couldn’t agree more :slight_smile:

This has got me wondering whether there is already open source library management software available … I’m too busy to do the research myself at the moment but at least wanted to record the thought so it doesn’t run away like they so often seem to do!

You’re absolutely right, and I love everything you’ve said here. I see that the key to solid change is not only looking at how the big manufacturer’s or big industries can be doing things differently, but people having access to information that helps us approach our daily lives more sustainably. I really like the idea of local ‘libraries’ building community resilience. I can see that resilience on all levels will be really important, especially on a community level.

Just a thought that comes up for me around talking about individuals and communities looking to see what they can themselves do to move us all into a more regenerative way of being (and please don’t equate this with anything anyone has said here, because I think this ownership by us as individuals and communities is beautiful and inspiring and important. It’s just that I sense - from many people - a frustration that they see big business often putting the emphasis on what we (consumers) can do to move into a more ‘green’ world while these same businesses, or others at a big business level, are given subsidies, or supported by trade agreements, or avoid paying any tax etc.: basically, being supported by governments and governing bodies (or allowed to behave badly). We see the rich getting richer while being asked to tighten our belts or to use less electricity or drive our cars less. Again, this is not a commentary on shared libraries of things (they’re wonderful). But I think we need to keep awareness of this feeling when we are looking at how we as individuals, and how communities, initiate these kinds of initiatives.

I wholeheartedly agree - but also believe that the sorts of initiatives we’re exploring here hold the key to addressing corporate/government corruption. Exploitation and the consolidation of wealth and power within the hands of a tiny few has existed before, after all, and it has - to some extent - been eroded by activists’ past efforts.

This occurred throughout the late 19th to mid 20th Century because people living within tight, interdependent communities coalesced around popular movements that allowed people to act as one - pushing back the tide of abuse that was perpetuated against them by oligarchical tyrannies. The work of these movements saw the greatest increase in health, living standards - and the most significant redistribution of wealth - since the beginning of ‘civilisation’; as national health services, the welfare state and aggressive tax initiatives were implemented.

These popular movements were based around and dependent upon communities of workers who staffed large industries and who self-evidently shared the same interests, however, and now those industries are gone. That is in part due to the fact that people in positions of power knowingly sought to break up those industries and fragment local communities, so that they couldn’t organise against them. Today, that atomisation continues and people are easily set against one another - either consciously or indirectly - by media/corporate/cultural forces that seek to emphasise the differences that exist between individuals and communities, rather than the interests shared by them.

The corruption that we see within the establishment will only be curtailed by the efforts of similar cohesive social movements, and those can only grow and profligate when we come together again as united communities with shared goals. Initiatives such as those discussed prepare the ground for these social movements; both because they bring disparate people together and offer them a sense of what can be achieved when they act as one, and because they make them less susceptible to the elite’s efforts to manipulate them (if you produce more of your own stuff, claims that corporate supply chains will be hampered/prices will rise as a result of activism will have less effect on you).

The anti-fracking movement is an excellent demonstration of what can be achieved when seemingly discordant sections of the community (crusties and Daily Mail readers :wink:) start communicating and realise that they have shared interests. That movement has withstood every effort to dismantle it by corporate/governmental power, enjoyed unprecedented, widespread support amongst the wider population, largely taken care of itself (with many activists living on the front lines for years - middle-class grannies alongside staple-faced anarchists - fed and financed by community efforts, rather than by their own employment or benefits) and though the threat hasn’t passed entirely, fracking as a force in Britain presently looks to be dead in the water.

From small acorns giant oak trees grow :grin:.

Hmm. I think, reading your response, that you may have misread what I wrote :thinking: It was less about corporate or government corruption, and only about the feeling that I see, a sense of ‘why should I be taking responsibility and putting my time and energy and money into ‘greener’ choices (such as which energy company I choose) when I know that there are people and organisations that are doing destructive things and seemingly being rewarded for them.’

That was it :slightly_smiling_face: The importance of recognising this wave of feeling. It’s not always a feeling I share, but it’s happening and I think that, currently, it’s important to recognise this when discussing initiatives for individuals and communities that aim to take responsibility for consumer decisions.