Love Economics – Part 1

Is an Economics of love and kindness even possible? It may seem so beyond our current context that it may seem like a dream too far. However, economics comes from the Greek word Oikos, which literally means household. Whoever heard of a household that was really flourishing that wasn’t built on love and kindness? It is true that the simple model of a household is a bit defunct when comparing it to complex economic systems, but the foundational ethical principles need not differ.

 

Our recent “Love Economics” event in Morecambe Bay was kicked off by the excellent Prof Imogen Tyler, head of the Sociology Department at Lancaster University, who sets out the case for the utter failure of the economics of austerity. Her devastating diagnosis of the current trickle-down economic model to (ever) deliver real human flourishing and environmental sustainability is not easy listening. Her insights and wisdom based on sound data and research set the foundations for our conversation in the current reality and pain which our economic models are causing every day. You will find in parts 2, 3 and 4 loads of reasons for hope. However, our hope must not be based in denial of what we are experiencing now, otherwise, we will go on to repeat the same mistakes over and over again.

 

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Love Society – Part 2 – Triads, Weaving a Web and Panel

Bev Skeggs gave us so much to think and talk about with each other. If you haven’t had a chance to watch her amazing talk yet, then please do so! You can find it in Part 1 of this blog series. She left us with a question – “How can we build value with those who are devalued?”

 

 

One of my favourite ways to explore big questions like this (and there are many methods we use through our ‘art of hosting’ training) is Triads. Triads is a simple and effective way of helping people have really meaningful conversations whilst being deeply listened to. It’s a very powerful experience. It involves breaking into groups of three (obviously). One person is the ‘speaker’, one person is the ‘listener’ and the other is the ‘witness’. The listener asks the speaker the question that everyone is exploring. The speaker then has 10-15 minutes (depending on time constraints) to answer the question in whatever way they want to. The listener listens deeply, might ask some more questions, or encourage the speaker to unpack what they’ve said a bit more. They stay curious, trying to draw out the wisdom of the speaker, but not slipping into the role of ‘speaker’ themselves. At the end of the time, the listener reflects back what they have heard. The witness holds the whole process and watches over the time and might offer some reflections of the process or things that have gone unspoken or unheard. Then everyone swaps round into different roles, so that by the end of 40-45 minutes, everyone has had a turn in each role.

 

When everyone was back in the room together and after a good coffee break, we asked the triads to reflect on the following question (moving from singular to combined wisdom – from ‘me’ to ‘we’), having heard from each person in turn: “What have we discovered that  builds value?” 

 

Each triad (or pair of triads) was then asked to come up with one sentence that captured their corporate wisdom. Here are the sentences that were spoken into the room – they are worthy of much reflection. I love how much synergy can come from a diverse group of people!

What have we discovered that builds value?

Non-judgemental education from an early age builds intrinsic value into everyday life, regardless of circumstances.

We have found in the Poverty Truth Commission that through listening, understanding develops, people recover value and become actively involved in pathways forward.

Trusting that we can subvert pre-packaged judgements and values for the value of the common good.

Accepting that we all make judgements, we grow awareness of how to work with judgments in a positive way that is empowering.

Positively engage with and welcome ‘others’ without judgement and recognise the value of individual contributions.

Discovering/Recognising/Empowering/Encouraging/Nurturing the fact we all have unique value and have power in value.

Value (like energy) cannot be created or destroyed. It can only be recognised/transformed/moved around/flow.

Removing prejudices, titles and labels – going back to our humanity and finding joy in sharing life, food and experiences.

In daily interactions, conversations and opportunities by being positive role models in local and regional settings.

Positive disruption focused on an individual level, driven by a moral imperative and brave vulnerability can create a movement of enfranchised, knowledgeable, solid people focused on social justice not social judgement.

Eating or talking around a table builds individual and social value through real connection.

Recognise the common value of humanity and our vulnerability to build empathy and non-judgemental connection.

Knowing that someone understands, accepts and respects our values. 

Recognising and acknowledging value through relationships and being rather than achievements. 

Awareness of self and therefore others.

 

Jon Dorsett and Lou Andrews, part of our team and outstanding graphic harvesters (if you ever need any help!) turned this wisdom into a spider’s web of learning. This is a kind of framework for a renewed society, maybe! However, none of this is straightforward and my friend Roger Mitchell has also done some really helpful reflections of his own, in his excellent blog.

If we want to build a society based on love and kindness, we have to examine the value we place on people and the environment and the values which shape our society currently. That guy Jesus, once said, “What you value (treasure) is where your heart will be also….”

 

To finish the morning we had a reflective panel discussion – it was packed full of wisdom – enjoy!

 

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The Poverty Truth Commission – Podcast

Tweet One of the things I have most enjoyed and also felt privileged to be a part of over the last couple of year has been the ‘Poverty Truth Commission’. Here is a podcast I have done with some of the incredible community commissioners, here in Morecambe Bay about how a ‘together with’ approach to [Continue Reading …]

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Black Swans and Poverty

Tweet Here is a copy of the speech I recently gave at Morecambe Food Bank when Heidi Allen MP and Frank Field MP came to be with us and to listen to the community here in Morecambe Bay about our experiences of poverty. There were some incredibly moving testimonies from community commissioners of the poverty [Continue Reading …]

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Truth about Poverty

Tweet One of the best things I have been involved in over the last few years, is the Poverty Truth Commission and it has helped me to learn just how utterly complex and wicked poverty is as an issue. I’m currently reading an absolutely brilliant book by the theologian Samuel Wells, called ‘The Nazareth Manifesto’. [Continue Reading …]

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Health and Society – Can We Make A Difference? Part 2 – politics

Tweet In the second of this (actually 3-part!) series, I’m looking at how politics and social movement are vital at changing the health and wellbeing of our society, communities and the environment we live in. Together We Can!         Share This:

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Healthy Schools

Tweet Last week, I had the privilege of being at Morecambe Bay Community Primary School. The school is a beacon of hope in this area. I found it extremely moving to walk round, with Siobhan Collingwood, the visionary and big-hearted headteacher and see the incredible love displayed by all staff towards the amazing children there. [Continue Reading …]

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