Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Building the local economy in Nairn – time for some radical thinking?

The inspiring poster was spotted in the window of  Iolaire down at the harbour - nice one Tez!. In an age where many of us do our shopping from the comfort of our armchairs, bathed in the glow of electronic devices then just how
much more could we do to stimulate the local economy?  NICE hope to stimulate employment through their initiative with the old Social Work Building but it is hard indeed to see how cash, in its traditional form of handouts from the authorities, might arrive. Those days are perhaps just a happy memory of the last millennium. NICE high heid yins would argue that Nairn simply needs to get its equitable share of public funds and there would be sufficient to implement several initiatives in the town.  But can we rely on the authorities to help us anymore? What is there that we could do on our own?

Perhaps it is worth examining some of the ideas of the Transition Towns movement. They bill themselves thus: “Transition Network's role is to inspire, encourage, connect, support and train communities as they self-organise around the transition model, creating initiatives that rebuild resilience and reduce CO2 emissions.”

Some people dismiss them as a indulgent bunch of well-off green loonies having a bit of fun. We face challenging times however and things may never be the same again. Consider the following two opening paragraphs of an interview with a Transition Town luminary:

” Late last year, Rob Hopkins went to a conference. Most of the delegates were chief executive officers at local authorities, but it was not a public event. Speaking in confidence, three-quarters of these officials admitted that – despite what they say publicly – they could not foresee a return to growth in the near future.
"One said: 'If we ever get out of this recession, nothing will be as it was in the past,'" Hopkins recalls. "Another said: 'Every generation has had things better than its parents. Not any more.' But the one that stunned me said: 'No civilisation has lasted for ever. There is a very real chance of collapse.'" ”  If any Gurnites have a few minutes more can be read in this interesting article here.

Will we face that kind of future in Nairn or will we be kept afloat by Ardersier opening up again to make windmills or the building of thousands of houses between here and Inverness?  Whatever the future perhaps it is worth considering some of the Transition Town folks agenda. Some of it might be considered a bit far out but how about a local currency? That is to say Money that could only be spent in Nairn? Would it improve the local economy? Individuals could buy into it for as little as much as they liked then obviously as long as there were shops and businesses that would accept it would get off the ground. It has been done in Bristolinformation here.

When NICE mark 1 got off the ground there were several working groups that were working on various issues concerning the then Council’s plans for the town centre. NICE mark 2 just doesn’t seem to have that kind of engagement with its membership and the wider public just now. Perhaps they, or the community councils, need to consider a few more “out of the box” ideas and set up working groups to bring them to fruition.


radicalised said...

We're over reliant on cheap (yes cheap) fossil fuels to ship goods all over the country. Double their costs and suddenly local goods would make so much sense to everyone. But that really would be radical thinking and I doubt that even the Greens would support such a notion as it certainly wouldn't win many votes.
Meanwhile we ship food that we grow and produce here from the likes of New Zealand and our planet is a little poorer for it
I fear that only when it hits our pockets will we approach any real radical thinking with regard the goods we consume
Keep producing the posters Tez, one day they might ring true

passer-by said...

There are people in Nairn who know a lot about the Transition Town scheme. Forres has already signed up for it, and has run a Shop-Local campaign. Forres have also got a recycling operation going (Moray WasteBusters) similar to that being discussed in Nairn. They, too, have issues over developers wanting to build on Common Good land. Forres and Moray also managed to secure significant local funding from HIE and elsewhere to help with the effect of the RAF departure from Kinloss.

Odd, isn't it, that Nairn does so poorly by comparison. Wonder why that is.....? Could it be because Forres has a single, unified and effective Community Council, and a supportive local (Moray) Council, and the people of the town don't spend their time sniping at each other, and criticising and undermining any efforts to improve things?

Nairn could learn a lot from dialogue and collaboration with our neighbouring town to the east.... if the folk of Nairn were willing to broaden their horizons and open their minds a bit.

Anonymous said...

I do shop local, except for one of my hobbies, where the nearest store is Edinburgh or even worse London for another hobby. We do need one community council, but as this will be ignored by the new Commissioner of Inverness Council placed on us.