Over the last few months your Labour councillors have been talking a lot about an idea called Doughnut Economics. Developed by economist Kate Raworth, it is a way to think about how we live that balances people’s needs for a good quality of life with the planet’s need for us to live sustainably.
It is a really interesting model, and I think it offers a way for us as a Labour council to think about how our policies affect residents and the world, and how to make the necessary tradeoffs that ensure we will be able to support people and the environment, and begin to undo some of the damage that has already been done.
One way we’re getting the message across is by holding public meetings, but this is very different in this time of social distancing and staying at home. When I ran the Water Crisis Forum in 2019 I started by booking a room in The Guildhall, and had to think about seating arrangements, catering, and how to make sure the PowerPoint presentations were visible from the back of the room.
It was rather different on Wednesday 17 March, when we held our online event on Doughnut and Cambridge, organised via the ticketing website Eventbrite, advertised on Twitter and Facebook, and run on the Zoom videoconferencing service.
We also used PowerPoint, Word, Notes, Google, Docs, Outlook, Slack, WhatApp, DropBox, Adobe and Miro. Maybe I missed some, but that is adding up to a lot of tools for one event. I think this list is a sign about the world that some of us are using to communicate, while we are still expected to ‘stay at home’ if we can…
Perhaps as a consequence I was rather anxious in the run up, as there were so many things out of my control that could go wrong, while once you’re in the same room with a group of people it feels a lot more manageable.
Fortunately the tech held up, people were patient as I tried to swap between Zoom and Powerpoint and find questions in chat while muting and unmuting speakers, and I think the event was a success.
After an introduction from me, we heard from the leader of Cambridge City Council, Cllr Lewis Herbert, who talked about the ways he saw doughnut economics as being important for the council’s future planning, and how collecting the data needed for decision making is vital.
Lewis wrote about this in the Cambridge Independent on 24 February.
He was followed by Cllr Mike Davey, who restated the commitment to explore doughnut economics that the City Council made at its February meeting in response to a public question. He also reminded us that actions following the commitment will be scrutinised at the October meeting of the Strategy and Resources Scrutiny Committee.
[Put it in your diary now – 11th October 2021. You can watch the question and reply at 0:43:5 https://democracy.cambridge.gov.uk/ieListDocuments.aspx?CId=116&MId=3781&Ver=4]
That question came an organisation called CamDEAG, Cambridge Doughnut Economics Action Group, and we heard next from one of their members, Clara Todd – see https://cambridgedoughnut.org.uk/about for more.
And then we heard from two representatives of the Doughnut Economics Action Lab. I met Andrew Fanning a few months ago when Clara and I spoke at a webinar organised by DEAL https://doughnuteconomics.org/ and was so please that he, and also Robert Shorter, could join us to tell us more about initiatives and outreach that they are involved with, and the lessons that they are learning.
I had opened the event by explaining what Doughnut Economics is, and then I gave a longer explanation of how I believe we can make it work in Cambridge, including the creation of the ‘digital portrait’ that collects data about the city, and the ways we can apply the theory at a hyperlocal level.
We then took some questions, which involved a lot of Zoom fiddling on my part but seemed to work. Questions had been posted in the chat space, and I selected them and then got the questioners to unmute and ask them, which meant we heard some different voices. It wasn’t as free-flowing as it would have been if we were all in the same room, but given the limitations of Zoom I think it worked
And I’ll be a bit more relaxed next time
If you’d like to learn more, I’ll be posting a recording of the event on my YouTube channel
Or you can watch an event where representatives from Cambridge, Brussels and Berlin talked about ‘downscaling the doughnut’
And please look at Kate Raworth’s explanation on her website https://www.kateraworth.com/doughnut/