Workshop coming up with Stephen Healy, co-author of Take Back the Economy: An ethical guide for transforming our communities

As you know, researchers Kelly, Gradon and David are working to think up ways of representing the work that Cultivate and other organisations do to invest in different sorts of futures for people and planet. As part of this process we are conducting a workshop with staff and board members to collectively map out the values of the group and provide a space for discussing how the youth programme has gone, where you want to go and how you might get there. This part of the workshop is really about facilitating a reflective space for you guys to be able to take time out away from the farm and reflect on how things have gone. We won’t record this part, but we will be listening and taking notes and will not be identifying indivdual contributions or opinions in our work. What we are interested in is observing the process so we can try and incorporate it into our own contribution, which I’ll explain below.

Finding Common Ground: more about the workshop purpose

We will prepare some interactive and reflective activities, and of course food. For this workshop, we have our colleague Stephen Healy coming over from Sydney to help us, and are using some of the material from his co-authored book Take back the economy: An ethical guide for transforming our communities. (You can get the first chapter of the book on this site). We plan to use our interview findings and what comes up in this workshop to develop a visualisation or tool for communicating what we call a ‘community economy return on investment’.

What do we mean by a community economy return on investment? When investors decide whether they want to invest in something, they calculate the ‘return on investment’ (ROI) — that is, what they are going to get back for their investment and over what time period. But we don’t just invest in ventures purely for profit, so some people have come up a social return on investment (SROI), which tries to monetise the value of the venture to society beyond the profit for the shareholders. We want to go further than this, and think about how we might ‘calculate’ or at least represent this in a nonmonetary way. So much of our investments are non-monetary — even our time cannot really be calculated just on a wage equivalent. Other kinds of investments in our community and social wellbeing are also near impossible to calculate, as they are immeasureable returns of one life changed, from the subjective experience of the people involved in that person’s life.

Authors of Take Back the Economy (JK Gibson-Graham, Jenny Cameron and Stephen Healy) have started to think about what this might look like in a broad sense. Our project tries to take their start point and use Cultivate as an entry point and case study of a community economy enterprise to help us work through what a community economy return on investment (CEROI) ‘tool’ might look like.

We think it will be pretty fun, and we hope it’s a valuable day for Cultivate staff too. We will have a draft schedule for the workshop content up a few days before the workshop, once Stephen has arrived in the

on the 29th January and we have caught him up on all we have done and you guys are doing.

Ngā mihi,

Kelly & the research team

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