Monthly Archives: May 2014

Love Local – Why, How and What

This post is reposted from its original location: http://bit.ly/LLSustSthlndBlog1


 

This is the first of several blog posts for SSBN by Love Local, an Invercargill-based, not-for-profit ‘social enterprise’, set up to address fresh food affordability and sustainability.

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Love Local was born out of a group of friends wondering what we could contribute to our local community. We’re concerned about social justice issues, such as affordable access to our basic needs – air, water, food, shelter, heat and community. The idea of a food project was put forward, and it seemed to fill a need locally. We quickly learned that we are part of a wider movement of communities all over the world working to wrestle back control of their food supply.

An interesting challenge we faced early on was deciding what legal structure to adopt. Company, charitable company, charitable trust? We learned that New Zealand law does not provide a huge amount of flexibility for those wanting to establish an organisation for which profit is not the highest priority.

Yet the almost universal legal interpretation of ‘not-for-profit’ allows for much more than charity. As an entity formed to fulfil a social purpose, a not-for-profit can make as much profit as it is able or would like, as long as this profit is used according to the organization’s stated goals, rather than being distributed to individuals in a private capacity.  

Source: The Power of Three Words: ‘Not-for-Profit’

We decided early on that Love Local should be a ‘not for profit’ enterprise. For a start, our founders volunteer their time, and have other sources of income. Love Local is our way of giving back to the community. Secondly, in our view the conventional growth-based, profit maximisation mentality, facilitated by interest bearing loans (the source of 97% of money in the modern economy), is a key driving force behind unsustainable business practices.

After much thought, we chose to set up as a charitable trust. The trust deed outlines our charitable objectives, and this helps us to set priorities and maintain focus. However, we’ve decided not to rely on loans or grants for our financial sustainability. Our aim is to be self-funding through our commercial activity (with some donations to get us going).

We sell great value bags of fruit and vegetables to the general public, and profits from this commercial activity are used by Love Local to fund the provision of a below cost fruit and vegetables accessed by Community Services Card holders via distribution points across the city. We support dozens of families a week through this side of our organisation.

In addition to supporting local families, we also aim to support local growers of fruit and vegetables. We aim to source as much of our produce as we can from Southland and Otago growers – thereby cutting down food miles and providing an alternative route-to-market for small and medium size growers who find access to consumers difficult.

You can support our ‘not for profit’ social enterprise through the purchase of great value fruit and vegetable bags, delivered free to your home or business (within Invercargill). Orders can be set up weekly, fortnightly, monthly or one-off and we supply four different options. One option is a fruit bag which is perfect for the staff / smoko room.

For more information including what’s in a typical bag, and to set up an order, visit our website at www.lovelocal.org.nz.

We need the support of the Invercargill community in order for Love Local to succeed. Primarily, we need people to buy our bags, and communicate to us how we’re doing. We’re also looking for volunteers to help us grow orders through promoting us in their workplace or social group.

We’re posting links to various inspirational resources on our Facebook page at in the hope that this will inspire others to either get involved with us or start a complementary business themselves. If you found this article helpful, come and join us there for more links, and help us have a conversation about building resilient communities in Southland. In future blog posts for SSBN, we’ll explore some of the issues we’ve skimmed over above in more detail.

Contact info: email info@lovelocal.org.nz or call 03 928 5073

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Synthetic Society – A Symptom of Separation?

The below post is reblogged, and was written as a guest blog for the Centre for NZ Progress. You can view the original post here: http://bit.ly/1v7eY5K


 

Nathan Surendran is a chartered consulting engineer, entrepreneur, ‘big picture’ thinker with a passion for social justice via social enterprise and an advocate for strong sustainability. He is a founder of ‘Love Local Charitable Trust‘ – a social enterprise focused on food affordability and security. For more info, see his LinkedIn profile.

There’s a lot of noise in the mainstream media here in NZ currently about the prohibition of synthetic highs. We’re posting this article as a counterpoint. The real issue isn’t prohibition or not, but what is it that causes so many addictive behaviours in our society, to the detriment of us all?

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It’s really important to progress, and our discussion of progress in NZ, that we understand the underlying flaws in the popular debate on these issues. It’s possible to be tackling the right issues, but having the wrong discussion – focusing on the symptoms and not the cause.

Whether your view of the world is that we were created mind, soul and spirit for community, relationship and love; or it’s your view that we developed these needs over time as an evolutionary response to give us competitive advantage, the reality is that we need each other. We need meaning in our lives that comes from our significant relationships with others.

In a recent article entitled “Gateway drug, to what?” Charles Eisenstein challenges popular misconceptions regarding addictive behaviour. In the first part of the article he helpfully debunks the myth surrounding the oft cited rat study:

Alexander found that when you take rats out of tiny separate cages and put them in a spacious “rat park” with ample exercise, food, and social interaction, they no longer choose drugs; indeed, already-addicted rats will wean themselves off drugs after they are transferred from cages to the rat park.

Eisenstein goes on to ask, Are we like rats in cages? He suggests some ways we could put a human being in a cage:

  • Create constant survival anxiety by making survival depend on money, and then making money artificially scarce. Administer a money system in which there is always more debt than there is money.
  • Divide the world up into property, and confine people to spaces that they own or pay to occupy.
  • (see below for the full list)

“…It is no wonder that people in our society compulsively press the lever, be it the drug lever or the consumerism lever or the pornography lever or the gambling lever or the overeating lever. We respond with a million palliatives to circumstances in which real human needs for intimacy, connection, community, beauty, fulfillment, and meaning go mostly unmet. Granted, these cages depend in large part on our own individual acquiescence, but this doesn’t mean that a single moment of illumination or a lifetime of effort can liberate us fully. The habits of confinement are deeply programmed. Nor can we escape by destroying our jailers: unlike in the rat experiments, and contrary to conspiracy theories, our elites are just as much prisoner as the rest of us. Empty and addictive compensations for their unmet needs seduce them into doing their part to maintain the status quo.”

Many of Eisenstein’s identified human cages seem to be side effects of industrial civilisation. If this is the case, it raises an interesting question regarding the role that our technology plays in progress.

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If our machines and devices are part of the cause of our current problems, is it wise to expect that they can also be our saviours? Many of today’s debates about progress often focus on green energy and eco-technology, hailing them as the shining lights of hope for a better world, but is this another example of addressing the symptoms and not the causes (such as over-population, debt-slavery due to structural issues with economics, etc)?

Albert Einstein said “We cannot solve our problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them”. Do you agree with this statement? Have we identified the ways of thinking that have created our current problems. And if so, what different ways of thinking will move us towards ‘progress’?


 More from the article:

“You’ve probably heard about those addiction studies with caged lab rats, in which the rats compulsively press the heroin dispensing lever again and again, even to the point of choosing it over food and starving themselves to death. These studies seemed to imply some pretty disheartening things about human nature. Our basic biology is not to be trusted; the seeking of pleasure leads to disaster; one must therefore overcome biological desires through reason, education, and the inculcation of morals; those whose willpower or morals are weak must be controlled and corrected.

… That is, perhaps, why Bruce Alexander’s devastating challenge to the caged rat experiments was ignored and suppressed for so many years. It wasn’t only the drug war that his studies called into question, but also deeper paradigms about human nature and our relationship to the world.

Alexander found that when you take rats out of tiny separate cages and put them in a spacious “rat park” with ample exercise, food, and social interaction, they no longer choose drugs; indeed, already-addicted rats will wean themselves off drugs after they are transferred from cages to the rat park.

The implication is that drug addiction is not a moral failing or physiological malfunction, but an adaptive response to circumstances. It would be the height of cruelty to put rats in cages and then, when they start using drugs, to punish them for it. That would be like suppressing the symptoms of a disease while maintaining the necessary conditions for the disease itself. Alexander’s studies, if not a contributing factor in the drug war’s slow unraveling, are certainly aligned with it in metaphor.”

…”

  • Remove as far as possible all opportunities for meaningful self-expression and service. Instead, coerce people into dead-end labor just to pay the bills and service the debts. Seduce others into living off such labor of others.
  • Cut people off from nature and from place. At most let nature be a spectacle or venue for recreation, but remove any real intimacy with the land. Source food and medicine from thousands of miles away.
  • Move life – especially children’s lives – indoors. Let as many sounds as possible be manufactured sounds, and as many sights be virtual sights.
  • Destroy community bonds by casting people into a society of strangers, in which you don’t rely on and needn’t even know by name the people living around you.
  • Create constant survival anxiety by making survival depend on money, and then making money artificially scarce. Administer a money system in which there is always more debt than there is money.
  • Divide the world up into property, and confine people to spaces that they own or pay to occupy.
  • Replace the infinite variety of the natural and artisanal world, where every object is unique, with the sameness of commodity goods.
  • Reduce the intimate realm of social interaction to the nuclear family and put that family in a box. Destroy the tribe, the village, the clan, and the extended family as a functioning social unit.
  • Make children stay indoors in age-segregated classrooms in a competitive environment where they are conditioned to perform tasks that they don’t really care about or want to do, for the sake of external rewards.
  • Destroy the local stories and relationships that build identity, and replace them with celebrity news, sports team identification, brand identification, and world views imposed by authority.
  • Delegitimize or illegalize folk knowledge of how to heal and care for one another, and replace it with the paradigm of the “patient” dependent on medical authorities for health.

It is no wonder that people in our society compulsively press the lever, be it the drug lever or the consumerism lever or the pornography lever or the gambling lever or the overeating lever. We respond with a million palliatives to circumstances in which real human needs for intimacy, connection, community, beauty, fulfillment, and meaning go mostly unmet. Granted, these cages depend in large part on our own individual acquiescence, but this doesn’t mean that a single moment of illumination or a lifetime of effort can liberate us fully. The habits of confinement are deeply programmed. Nor can we escape by destroying our jailers: unlike in the rat experiments, and contrary to conspiracy theories, our elites are just as much prisoner as the rest of us. Empty and addictive compensations for their unmet needs seduce them into doing their part to maintain the status quo.”

You can read the full article here: http://www.opendemocracy.net/charles-eisenstein/gateway-drug-to-what

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