A very successful Living Economies Expo

Margaret Jefferies of Living Economies and Project Lyttelton organised the event

Well the Expo was a huge success. Three days of intense engagement of 120 people on the topic of seeding change can only produce miracles when the person in charge is the wonderful Margaret Jefferies.

You can’t say she wasn’t challenged. Everything went wrong for her for a start. There were going to be two women working with her. One was required by immigration to get a full time job in addition to her two small businesses, the other got sick. Then the programme committee collapsed, well – more of less. Only Deirdre and Bruce seemed to be there at the end, though many others had contributed to a huge list of possible speakers. The list was unmanageable. Too big and no one seemed to follow up. Then there were Jo and Bryan, organisers of ecoshows. They came in.

Margaret just went where the energy went. No one could afford too much time, but Babs Lake came in for three weeks at the end and then there were the wonderful Lyttelton organisers. The programme details were held together by Bruce Anderson who acted as Chair for much of it, together with the brilliant Jo Pearsall.

Audio visuals were under the very competent John Veitch, all helped by skilled volunteers who attended. Peter ex TV3 has done a video of the whole event and the DVDs will eventually be sold from the Living Economies website.

Gary Flohmenhoft of Vermont, US spoke of land and money and land trusts

Anyway we ended up with two Australian speakers in person Gary Flohmenhoft, who gave a brilliant talk on land and money, and Darryl Taylor from Melbourne whose language was so wonderfully rich and insights into community development so penetrating.

Gar Alperovitz kicked us off with a great talk on the Next System, coming in by skype from Washington DC.

Nafeez Ahmed connects energy, economy,environment with security issues for a very logical understanding of the current world crises we face

The final talk by Nafeez Ahmed was a highlight for me, though it started late and went on to interrupt the next workshops. Crisis managed well by Margaret Jefferies and everyone got to where they wanted. Ahmed’s session was hosted by Invercargill engineer in transition, Nathan Surendran, of whom we will see a lot more in the future.

Why was it a highlight? Because Nafeez integrates energy, economy and environment into his world view, because he sees the decline of net global energy and its effects on the economy that depends on growing energy. But he also sees climate change and understands geopolitics to a degree that few economist do. Being an expert in security issues makes him the ideal person to contemplate the convergence of many global crises, illustrating it with the Syrian situation. But just as important was that he had figured out that Trump and Brexit were the result of misdiagnosis of the economic problems of stagnating wages and precarious jobs. The acceleration of everything during 2016 was almost more than the brain is designed to cope with. He advised not worrying about things you can’t control like freak climate events and financial crashes, but focussing on seeding new changes towards the new system. I recorded his talk on my phone, have played it again and look forward to the powerpoint and the DVD.

My session ran fairly smoothly and I have been thinking ever since about the definition of inflation and have been penning a few paragraphs on this. I was glad I practised it so often so I didn’t go overtime. It is tricky to get a book into 35 minutes! My book is duly launched.

Those involved in Savings Pools and Timebanks had plenty of opportunity to meet and connect. Thamina Ashraf an Islamist PhD student spoke, though I had to miss her talk to hear Gary F. Matthew Slater ran The Trading Floor Game involving nearly 100 participants, an exciting experience to view at the end.

Stephanie Rearick of Madison, Wisconsin initiated Mutual Aid Networks which make so much sense in communities

A popular guest was Stephanie Rearick from Madison Wisconsin. Timebanks are useful within a wider needs based program called Mutual Aid Networks, and I look forward to hearing her again in Wellington on the 10th.

One workshop I attended was on alternative retirement villages. Ruth Gherzon of Whakatane is doing good research and this will go out on the mailout from the Expo to all participants so that enthusiastic attendees can continue to work on it.

Jo Pearsall and I are keen to see the development of new land trust models in this country, much to the delight of Gary Flohmenhoft.

A timebank gathering is planned for September 2018 in Whakatane and it is hoped this may extend to a whole Living Economies hui. Meanwhile the movement has grown a stronger voice and a wider and wiser presence to form the next system.

The full programme, which had to be adapted because of plane delays due to fog, is here