Sheffield – The Place of Community in Green thinking

1 February 2024 , categories: Climate Change, Community, Environment, Meetings, Sheffield

A prominent local campaigner discussed how the Green approach to politics is different to the other major parties and also looked at local Green issues.

On the 1st Feb we met again at The Red Lion and welcomed our guest speaker Peter Garbutt. Peter is a former Green Party member of Sheffield Council and is prominent in green issues in the city. Peter’s opening remarks looked at where the community fits into human organisation with the point that community is the natural unit. Looking at pre-industrial society, the community would be under the Lord of the Manor. In early industrial times factory owners mirrored this in building houses for workers, both communities of place including centred around the place of work and worship. However community has no formal position in modern politics and how we are governed. The proposition is that truth is vital in a community. Building a community is core to Green ideology. In addition, due to corruption and selfish interest at national and international level, local communities are the only viable vector for action on climate change. A community should build trust around what is true and what isn’t and this trust will give agency to the individual to act. Communities are central to education of the young and a community based society would have a high level of education. Communities would differ in outlook and priorities.

We considered what has eroded the structure of community and that these factors, e.g. the welfare state, global trade to deliver our standard of living, were not intrinsically bad. Does our desired standard of living make the self-sustaining community impossible? Are we expecting an unreasonably high and unsustainable standard of living? How fair or moral is this in relation to less developed countries?

In terms of community stability or cohesion, how much of a challenge is the commuting and migration our economic model needs to make it work? We have lost the place where work and community coincide (the manor, the 19th century factory town).

The negative impact of individualisation in breaking up community was acknowledged.

Green thinking would look at building communities around what people can do for the climate (the Climate Majority Project): people who are concerned (but who are not activists) getting on board with community based environmental/climate activities from the point where they are. There is a need to work on elements of common ground regardless of how you view the climate science.

Thank you to Peter for leading a interesting and challenging discussion.

Two books were mentioned in particular:

Less is More: How Degrowth Will Save the World by Jason Hickel

Doughnut Economics by Kate Raworth

Other meetings coming up

The Newcastle group will be discussing regional devolution on Tuesday 13th Feb.

The Manchester group will be be discussing Warriors Against Woke on Wednesday 28th Feb.

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