And you don’t know what it is, do you Mr Old Style Economy?
When Bob Dylan wrote the song I’m clearly riffing around to get this short article going, his inserted name was a ‘Mr Jones.’ A fictional catch-all for everyone standing in the way of the youth revolution that looked like it might be happening back then in the 1960s. So I nearly made life easy, if obvious, for myself by inserting the similar ‘Mr Johnson’ up there in my sub-headline as a contemporary stander-in for so many things that are profoundly wrong right now.
But I’d rather talk about some things that are profoundly right, and I don’t have to make the mental and socially distanced journey all the way to Downing Street to find that. Because the something profound that’s happening is happening here in Liverpool and involves lots of the people you’ll have already heard about on this blog.
Profoundly right, as ever and from the moment the idea was first had, is Kitty’s Launderette. Not only still open and functioning as a drop-off your washing launderette, but currently doing free washing and drying for NHS workers and also our fragile and isolated elderly. And getting finished washing delivered back when it’s wanted to be, by bike. The bikes and riders of Peloton’s Agile Delivery currently criss-crossing our locked down city with essential washing and food supplies and health protection equipment and whatever needs to get from here and there, for all of us. A business to business, humans to other humans lifeline, bringing Kitty’s, Homebaked, Squash Nutrition, DoEs Liverpool and so many other brilliant and necessary ideas to all of our doorsteps. Along with the artists, knowledge, opinion and activity businesses like FoundationMA, PlacEd, Dead Pigeon Gallery, The Florrie and Make keeping more than going and zooming live and like they always have, but now in improvised social ways into our living rooms.
Which all sounds feels and looks like a new version of the economy up and running doesn’t it? Done locally, by us and for us all. All much more thoroughly expressed and systematically described in this inspirational and factual article by Erika Rushton that will almost certainly lift your heart and spirit as much as it did mine earlier this morning when I first read it:
“What’s happening here is an occupation of market failures. The entrepreneurs, creatives and community business are moving in, repurposing what they find. Making do and mend, in a DIY patchwork of activity until, like a quilt, they fit together to comfort and care for us despite our distance, isolation or lack of protective wear…
First to respond were the feeders…Next came the protectors…Peloton changed gear. Fast off the blocks, it quickly found its slipstream collecting and delivering local goods and services…connecting producers and customers, equipping front line workers…Micro-investors on Instagram and open source…
Because the market, when and where it was needed most, failed us.”Erika Rushton
And if this all this sounds like one of my utopian stories it’s because it sounds like one of my utopian stories, except this one is true and it’s right now. All over Liverpool, city and region, there are small-ish, mobile, intelligent and ethical traders doing what’s necessary and needed better than the creaking and slow to respond old market creature still calling itself the economy.
So do read Erika’s article and do respond, to me if you like. My skill, my contribution to all this new economy thinking, is writing and spreading good ideas around. I’m not one of the people that’s up to doing the running of these amazing places and ideas I’ve mentioned, and maybe you’re not either? But we can all do something to help all of us through all this. I can write, write quickly and get the word around. So writing like this is my offer. But what would you like to do? What are you already doing? What’s needed, what do you think? Tell me, tell us,tell everyone. Let’s get a whole city region of new ideas circulating and happening here.
Because we can’t be waiting for the market or government or permission can we? We need to be occupying an economy that works with us and for us now. And the ‘something that’s happening’ that I mentioned up at the start of this, has already started.
Read Erika Rushton’s article “Squatting the Economy” here.