I spent a very enjoyable day at Bristol Green Week yesterday. Green Week is a celebration of green ideas and thinking in Bristol, which has featured a wildly eclectic mix of talks, workshops, music, comedy, films, walks and much more. I arrived midway through the week’s festivities, to participate in two events. The first was a screening of ‘In Transition 2.0’, shown as the third in a series of films under the somewhat uninspiring banner of ‘Documentary Evidence’. Apparently Monday’s had attracted 30 people, and Tuesday’s just 4, so it was suggested that I might want to temper my expectations in terms of attendance. In the end over 40 people came, and the whole thing went really well.
There are, as Andrew Simms points out in his most recent blog, two narratives about our economic choices moving forward from here, growth or austerity. Some argue we need austerity in order to get growth, others that we can just cut straight to the growth by printing or borrowing more money. The government recently announced a “massive push for growth“, with £950m being recently allocated for the ‘Regional Growth Fund’ (out of what is expected to be £1.4bn in total), in spite of the fact that money spent so far through the RGF was recently criticised for spending as much as £200,000 to create a single job. One of the key channels for distributing and allocating RGF funds is the Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs). According to my big-green-book-of-localism the government kindly sent me last year, LEPs are “locally-owned partnerships between local authorities and businesses which will play a central role in determining economic priorities, undertaking activities to drive economic growth and the creation of local jobs”. Yet on closer inspection, LEPs would appear to embody everything that is bereft of vision, imagination and indeed of any of the kind of creativity and thinking that these times demand.
I posted the video of this a couple of weeks ago, but I am deeply grateful to Vanessa Kroll who has transcribed it, in case such a thing would be of interest/use to anyone. Here it is:
“Hello. I want to tell you a story which pulls together a lot of what we’ve heard already and looks at what that might look like in the context of one place. And it’s a story which I think can change the world. It’s a story which already is changing the world. It’s the story of my town, Totnes, in Devon. A town of about 8,500 people, midway between Exeter and Plymouth. But before I can tell you the story I really want to tell you about Totnes, I have to get another one out of the way first.