In Ireland we are facing serious problems culturally, socially, economically, and politically. In our efforts to address these problems we have created this entity to generate cooperative entrepreneurially based solutions geared toward rebuilding local resilient communities.
Our model has a wide scope with concrete initial phases already in motion. Lets start there.
Revenue generation for community cooperative development is key to our activities. We do not want to rely on investors and the control structures and proprietary nature that goes with these relationships. To generate income we generate value starting from what we perceive as a fundamental problem in Ireland: our national food system.
Ireland imports 60% of its food. Compounding this issue we have a corporate tax regime that has enabled multinationals to evade payment of the majority of their tax duties enabling their crippling of local small food economy actors. Local groceries, bakeries, fish-mongers, veg.shops, electrical stores, clothes shops and a host of other small businesses are closing and being replaced multinationals such as Musgraves/Supervalue, Lidl, Aldi, Tesco and so on. These latter, on paper, should pay 12% tax, but due to tax avoidance measures enabled by the ‘double dutch’ loophole, they often pay between 0 and 1% in tax. In addition, due to bulk buying power they force down the price that farmers then must accept for their produce.
Due to the associated cost of oil relative to distributing food (transport) we face an impending instability in our food security as a nation. As fuel prices rise food prices rise. The poorer among the population are priced out of basic nourishment. A recent report from an Irish charity sent out a clear message two weeks ago identifying that 21% of Irish children go to school hungry and over 700,000 people suffer from undernourishment nationally. Meanwhile, as expedients of EU advised policy, our government have applied policy constraints that has forced the emigration of over 400,000 people of the 18-29 age bracket. This is about 10% of the total population, the emigration of our best and brightest. (some of us are staying to try to figure this out, we need your help!!!)
And so our first phase, the revenue generator for the community development model we are creating, is called BiaBox. ‘Bia’ is Gaelic for ‘food’. And this phase is a local food system. We connect with local producers who deliver their produce to our solar powered cooling docks. Fromm here we pack boxes twice weekly and deliver to our customers who have made their orders online. Our delivery method is by electric cargo bike, also solar charged. Our aim is to remove the distribution cost paid by multinationals and so remain competitive with their prices. For each bike, with 200 customers, depending on their weekly spend and based on a minimum of 35 euro per customer, we can make between 40 and 60k annually for the second phase of our model.
So far, we have completed a pilot, an initial test phase, and last month we deployed our first ‘all on’ phase of the BiaBox project in Limerick. So far we have 175 customers and are operating two cargo bikes in Limerick city in the south of Ireland and have project managers developing a Dublin-city node, and a Cork-city node.
In the second phase of our activities we have a number of models prepared for deployment and are working together with other distributed organizations emerging nationally to create situations of mutual infrastructural development to effect these models. These models include FarmStart, a program for getting local growers producing organic food to sell through the BiaBox model. Likewise the Community Kitchen Program aims to create an infrastructure and setting for local food producers to make, label, and sell their produce to local customers. We are working with developers toward the creation of a ‘community share release’ - ‘equity crowdfunding’ model to enable local communities to buy and to own their own resources and in the generation of community cooperative energy projects. We are also developing models for CoHousing, Technology Recycling Stations, Energy Efficiency Services using OS models and distributed manufacture in partnership with the Irish Mens Sheds Association, and Community Growery Projects in partnership with GIY (Grow It Yourself) a national organisation promoting the home and community food growing.
Get Local operates according to cooperative values, with the a Foundation arm, charitable status, and in the legal wrapper of a not-for-profit social enterprise. this is largely due to the conditions of legal options in Ireland. We are open to options emerging in the future that might suit the organization better than what we use at present, and especially in the case of connection to emergent projects across the EU and beyond that work toward the mutualisation of knowledge, design, and productions strategies of a networked open cooperativist structure. To this end we are working closely with the P2P Foundation and folks interested in mutuality networks of autonomous cooperatives, the PP-L (Peer Production License), and potential development strategies using EU funds to develop in this direction…(actually, we will do it with or without funding, there is the will, we Will find a way)
In Ireland I am working as a connector according to my understanding of complexity, stigmergy, information exchange and feedback processes and how these, with technological enablement, are creating a new, distributed, fully conective, and horizontal organization capacity for the mutualisation of assets and strategies that can turn the means of production and the means of monetary production back into the hands of the comunnities and individual producers of value. To this end I work to connect the Irish Cooperative Studies faculty of University College Cork, with nationally emergent Food Councils, the MensSheds Association, Community Energy Projects, the Permaculture Communnity, Transition Towns Network, The Community Foundation Ireland, and various projects that are emerging as value sharing and potentially collaborative communities.
I am unwaged and this is a work of service. If you can help us in any way, and if we can help you in any way then lets help each other.
Thanks for this time and for your work in developing this community.
Community Cooperative Development, Local Food Systems, Community Service Commons, Cooperative, Not-for-Profit, Social Enterprise, Foundation, Food, Community Kitchens, Growers, Energy Cooperative, Carbon Neutral