Building a Real Economy in Southmead

You may have heard of the Real Economy Centre that is soon to be found at Southmead Community Centre, and you may well be thinking ‘What is a Real Economy?’.

Real Economy is just one of hundreds of initiatives in the city that have a commitment to working for a kinder and fairer society that is living in a better relationship with the earth.

We think there is a different way of living out our lives today and our current society has rather lost its way. Instead of progress being measured in terms of profit and GDP, we think it should be measured in terms of the richness of human life, including our health and sense of well-being and our relationship with the natural world. We want to demonstrate this by creating what we call a ‘Real Economy’.

Why do Real Economy?

At our Real Economy Centres we will be deliberately building a different type of economy on a small and local scale. This will be very practical and focused on doing things for one another, aiming to give strength to our lives while caring for the earth at the same time. 

What will you do?

There will be three strands of activity 

1. Good Food
We want to inspire us all to eat really good food as well as be fair to local farmers who are growing the food for us. We will source food from local growers which will provide for a meal which participants at the centre cook and eat together. 

There may also be some food available to take away at the end of the day by those who have participated in the centre’s activities and thereby contributed to the community. 

People may also order a range of food through Real Economy for delivery the next week and discounts may be available for this for those who might otherwise be struggling. The free of subsidised food will be partly paid for through a special solidarity fund.

2. Great Community

We want to provide a place where people can come and engage in creative activities for the good of themselves and their community. We hope that people will find a welcome at the Real Economy Centre and an opportunity to join with others in an activity that is doing something really worthwhile. 

It might be 

•growing food

•helping to prepare and cook the meal

•making something out of recycled materials for sale to support their own income, or in aid of the solidarity fund 

•joining a team that is renovating a particular building or repairing clothes

•visiting older and isolated people in the neighbourhood as part of an outreach team. 

We know that everyone can do something for others. Even if someone is not ready or able to take on paid work in the wider society, our hope is that they will be able find something at our Real Economy centre that they can do.

We have grown used to thinking that everything anyone does for someone else today should be paid for in cash. This is the sign of a weak community. The truth may be that a strong community can be measured by the network of people among whom favours are freely given and freely received. This is what we hope to create.  

3. Inspiring ideas

Each month we will have a discussion after the meal about something that matters to us. Starting from the need for access to good food and how the food system works.

We will branch out to topics of concern to participants – aiming to identify things that are deeply wrong with our society and how we can combine together to create the kind of community we long for. 

Who can come to our Real Economy Centre?

Our Real Economy- Southmead centre will be based at Southmead Community Centre and open to everyone living in, or near Southmead, as well as any volunteers who would like to join us from wider afield. 

It is vital that we create a balanced community and include people with various skills and interests. If you have a particular skill, that can be used for the good of the community in some way, then come and share it with others. The aim will be to shape the activities of the centre according to the interests of local people and we will establish a local user group early on to make this happen. 

We will also be specifically inviting local services and agencies to recommend people to come to our centre who might be insecure in terms of food or otherwise benefit from the community.

When does it start?

We have begun our activities with some free lunches during the summer to which we invite interested people, both workers and residents, and talk to them about the project, identify things that people may be able to offer, learn more about existing work in the area and begin some activities on a fairly small scale. 

Our next lunch is on 5th July and we will be talking about our hope to start a community farm in Southmead. We would welcome anyone to join us who might be interested in being a part of this in some way. 

Another lunch is planned for 12th July, where we will be discussing the initiative as a whole over lunch and afterwards doing a cooking workshop, where we will be preparing tasters for the Southmead Community Festival. 

We will also be holding lunches on the 9th, 23rd and 30th August. The idea of this gradual start is to listen to the people of Southmead and make sure that local people shape the details of this project. All being well, this will prepare the ground for a proper launch early in September.

Please do come and say hello at the festival, meet some friendly local goats and join in our conversation about food!

To find out more contact

 or phone 07429 957881