Okay, so ‘board meeting’ may not be exactly true, as we are not technically a board as yet, but what the hell; we’re excited so we will run with it.
Last week saw the inaugural board meeting for Sustainable Liverpool. It was not an open invite session, as the goal was to decide on an initial structure for our organisation and to make a start on some delegations and research projects. Open sessions will come later, when we are at the stage when we can make our first big announcements.
For now, we are still planning, working out what we want to achieve, and how we want to do it. The aims and values of Sustainable Liverpool are far-reaching and extremely ambitious. We feel that this is only right, and a rational response to the challenges we face, but in order to reach our lofty goals we first acknowledged the importance of setting smaller targets, things that are achievable in the shorter term that will serve as milestones on our way to our destination.
It was heartening to see so many people made it to the meeting, and interesting to note that there were a wide range of skills and interests around the table. Amongst our number were a Reiki therapist, a fine artist and engineer, a writer and local businessman and a carpenter and eco builder. Also represented were like-minded organisations Baltic Creative, Northern Lights, Farm Urban, Squash Nutrition and Transition Liverpool.
It was agreed by all that one of the first steps that we wanted to take was to add weight to the project by looking into concerns such as Community Interest Companies, Community Land Trusts and Co-Operatives. There are many examples of these types of organisation working in the city and beyond, and we collectively felt that pursuing these options would help us to focus our efforts and also show potential investors and supporters that we mean business.
We discussed the goal of building an Eco Community Centre, and came to the conclusion that while this was still something we wanted to achieve, it was one of those goals that we needed to set milestones for in order to get there. After conversation about available land and potential areas of the city in which to base our operation, we came back to the idea of the Community Land Trust.
The most high profile CLT in the city is of course Granby4Streets, which recently won The Turner Prize. While this is an undoubtedly impressive achievement, our main source of admiration for this organisation is the impact they have had on a neglected and much-maligned part of Liverpool. Granby4Streets has brought life back to the place in which they operate, and is creating affordable housing for the people of Liverpool.
Inspired by their success and achievements, we are looking into the creation of our own CLT. Instead of starting by building our Community Centre, we are going to look for an existing structure around which we can focus our efforts, creating a Sustainable Liverpool CLT, CIC and Building Co-Operative.
A fine evening’s work, and a positive start that left us enthused and optimistic, with targets set for the next meeting.
One a final note, this meeting saw yet another stroke of good luck for the project in our almost accidental choice of venue. We initially approached another venue two weeks earlier, and having heard nothing back, a friend pointed us in the direction of Naked Lunch Café on Smithdown Road.
As it happens, these guys are a successful and inspiring example of what can be done with a bit of people power; a community co-operative that was first started to save the Café Kerouac when its owner became ill, they reopened as Naked Lunch (nice literary connection there) and as a co-op have gone from strength to strength and are now developing further projects in the city. They were a source of support and information as well as coffee and cake, and we hope to develop a close bond with them as Sustainable Liverpool develops.
We will be writing more about the Naked Lunch Café success story in future posts, so for now, we will close with a final request:
Sustainable Liverpool are looking for a building (or buildings) that we can take stewardship of as a Community Land Trust. If you have any suggestions, or would like to get involved, please get in touch.
Your support enables our success. Please share this post.