12.2 C
Saturday, 24 October 2020
No menu items!
Home Blogs Jonny Hankins Social Sustainability Meeting

Social Sustainability Meeting

Last updated 7 years ago by UtrechtCentral.com

Next weekend I am going to the Integrated Network for Social Sustainability Annual Meeting in Charlotte, USA, where I will co-present a poster with Utrecht University’s Cristina Grasseni. The poster title is Food Sovereignty and Social Sustainability through Solidarity Economy Networks, and it fits into a meeting whose focus is to prioritize challenges for social sustainability.

Our poster presents work-in-progress insights into solidarity economies. We are looking at provisioning activism, or different ways people go about sourcing and buying the products they need in their daily lives.

To give an idea of what this means we are talking about groups of people who get together and form bulk-buying collectives or food coops, or run urban community gardens or community-supported agriculture. Projects also include the development of small workers’ cooperatives with ambitious plans to create “green” jobs for marginalized youth in post-industrial wastelands.

In practice these groups are organizing themselves in an attempt to replace supply chain consumerism in many fields with locally controlled networks. Initially limited to food, “provisioning activism” increasingly focuses on clothing, IT, renewable energy, green construction, recycling, mutual insurance, cooperative credit and local currency exchange.

In Italy we find Solidarity Economy Districts, areas within which different groups are based and help and deal with each other. In the USA we also find that groups cluster together. In Massachusetts we have the town of Worcester that acts as an informal focus point for groups that produce and distribute food, invest in locally owned and produced solar energy and are constructing a bio fuel plant where they can produce bio diesel from used vegetable oil collected from local restaurants.

This is not entirely a new idea though, 10 years ago a similar plant opened in the UK, see this post for a better explanation of the work pioneered by Sundance Renewables.

To give an idea of the scale of business, the main energy coop in Worcester takes $1.3 million a year in income, while in Italy a loose network of solidarity buying groups spends about 80 million Euro per annum, mainly on locally produced food.

[GARD align=”right”]The poster represents an overview of 7 years’ work for Dr. Grasseni, research that I too have participated in for that length of time. Her book Beyond Alternative Food Networks came out last year, and her move to Utrecht will allow her to expand her research field into the Netherlands.

For those of you who don’t know, the Netherlands is a leader in its approach to promoting locally sourced food, and has pushed forward into local institution and governmental collaboration, but plenty more on that to come in further posts as this research develops.

On a practical note it is 26 in the shade in North Carolina on Friday so I need to look for my shorts after a long and extremely cold winter, now where did I leave my Ray-Bans?

Jonny Hankinshttp://responsibleinnovation.co/
Author of the 2012 ebook "A Handbook for Responsible Innovation" (99c from Amazon), Jonny works for the Bassetti Foundation in Milan publishing articles on innovation and responsibility on their website and also blogging about his interests. He is on the editorial board of the Journal of Responsible Innovation and a member of the Integrated Network for Social Sustainability.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Popular in the last 7 days

Rietveld Schröder House: an iconic masterpiece

Rietveld Schröder House is an iconic masterpiece of the architecture world. Although, to the average public, it is just a pretty house....

Beer and Bitterballen

Dutch cuisine is not really the most mouth-watering in the world. But the beer-bitterballen combination is a delicious exception

Coronavirus cases rising in Utrecht: All you need to know

The graph of coronavirus cases in the Netherlands is going up at a very fast rate. According to the latest data released...

The age of dragons and georeferencing

This article is about georeferencing old maps which allows to compare them to new ones. Georeferencing is conducted by Utrecht University and is an interactive method which gives access to the old and new maps of the university library's collection.

More from this Author

After Work Drinks, Or Emails?

There has been a lot of press recently about the French governments proposal to make it illegal for employers to contact their workers outside...

St Patrick’s Day Inclusion Problems

Top of the morning and happy hangover to you all. Yes it is that time of year...

Cultural Production and Flying Cars

At the moment I live my life straddling two continents, and two lifestyles. I reside in the...