There have been quite a few community owned businesses during the tour so far, and I love it every time we find one. Rocklands Community Shop is a wonderful example. The way a community business works is that shares are sold to members of the community, local people staff it and often will volunteer there too. I’ve seen community pubs, a wind turbine and shops but really there’s no reason why you couldn’t use the business model for all sorts of things, whatever the community needs. The great advantage is that the money spent in the shop stays in the community. Normally when you shop at a chain store a large chunk of the money leaves the community to be paid to the head office and on to the parent company, gradually bleeding the resources from the town. If you buy at somewhere like Starbucks or Amazon almost all the money leaves your community and goes to the US, thus avoiding paying any UK tax. Community businesses are a great way to help each other stay strong.
Sat by the river in Norwich you can meet the most lovely people. Johnny told me about his recent experience on an environmental awareness course for businesses called Green Edge.
Years ago at university I knew I wanted to volunteer to protect the environment in my spare time, and the first place I turned was The Conservation Volunteers (TCV) previously BTCV. The volunteers go out to do conservation work, meet friends and keep fit. I asked Debbie what it’s meant to work for them in Norwich and how she managed to make the change from her previous work in banking.
Our first visit to Cambridge was a beautiful amble which critically for me, included an icecream. Strangely similar to Oxford in some of it’s beautiful old college architecture, yet the buildings of Cambridge are generally lower, not more than two stories. The river Cam runs through Cambridge and young men will try to persuade you to come on a punt along the river (a low long boat that you push along with a pole).
The Transition group in Cambridge is thriving, with many different groups and events. We were fortunate enough to spend time with many different people involved with Transition in Cambridge, but it was Anna who really brought it alive. She walked out to meet us as we came in to town and she was full pelt on different projects. Just that weekend was the fantastic Repair Cafe where people could bring all sorts of items to be repaired.
The Cambridge Hub meanwhile provides a focus where students can get help to protect the environment and take positive action for society.
Cambridge Carbon Footprint (CCF) is another active and hugely influential group of people for change in Cambridge.