Getting started

Start from where you are: how close are you with your neighbors?

The situation can be so different it is hard to give general advice. Some places neighbours hardly talk at all. In other people know each other and cooperate on an almost daily basis. In some places there are one or two things that work – like sharing a trailer.

If people hardly know each other then you’ll need to dream up a few ways of catalysing the connection. One simple start is to greet everyone you see. One place in Italy created a Facebook group first, then they started meeting in real life.

Is there an understanding there is a climate crisis? Are people ready to do something? If not, building community by getting people to first know each other a little bit, then finding one shared activity.

A local street flea market was the way used in a Swedish town. Everyone had a stall outside their house, and people went around chatting to each other.

Or just invite people for coffee or tea in your graden or yard. Any excuse will do!

In one Swedish town local people were upset about clear-felling. People from the local nature club organsed a protest in conjunction with a demonstration day. They invited neighbours up to the clear felled woods to take a picture of them holding placards. It made the local newspaper.

So have a think about where people are in your neighbourhood and see what a good next step might be to try.(And have an idea of the next steps. You as the catalyst will need to keep the kettle boiling.)

Start from where you are: what would be a good geographical reach for your club?

Our understanding is that clubs can only have 146 plus or minus 35 members – and that means 146 individuals OR households. A club will need a central store for bulk buying, and will be helped if there is one place where people spontaneously meet, like bus stops, stations, recycling points. You are not aiming to get every household as a member, so the geographical spread can be wider – if the place has a natural name – like a city block or part of a village so much the better. Something people can identify with.

THe theoretical tipping point is 3.5%. So if you have a geographic areas where 3.5% of the houses are 146 you have the absolute largest areas to work from. Ten percent feels like a better figure to aim for it gives better momentum and “clout” when it comes to political issues.

What about the money?

A thriving 146 club has all the key ingredients working together (the 5 P’s):

  • People
  • Place
  • Products
  • Production
  • Payment (and exchange systems – in other words a functioning market)

Things you can do today.

Do something to catalyse contacts between people. Something simple?

One tool that could help is the Commons Finance Canvas which helps you think through these aspects.

Get a yield early. Is there one thing you and your neighbours can do that is easy and will get a visible result?

Check out our tools articles

To cite Dave Pollard:

The evidence is everywhere. Sooner or later, as collapse takes hold, we are going to have to start to build local communities from the ground up with the people with whom we find ourselves. Some, perhaps most, of those people are going to believe, and believe in, some ludicrous things, things that will horrify and appal you, and you’re not going to talk them out of their beliefs.

You’re going to have to build a local community that works with them. Might as well start now to figure out what you’re going to have to work with.

Dave Pollard

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