Margaret Jefferies: Lyttelton - sustainable community building plus, the sharing of love & care in action

Interviewed by

Tim Lynch

Margaret Jefferies: Lyttelton - sustainable community building plus, the sharing of love & care in action

When the Christchurch Earthquakes struck 6 years ago - Project Lyttelton was already in operation and they were in many ways pivotal in assisting in and around Lyttelton during and after this disaster.

Project Lyttelton   http://www.lyttelton.net.nz - in the South Island could be deemed one of the more unique communities in NZ - as enterprising people are doing effectual things as they build warm community relationships that support each other in their daily life.

Situated on the other side of the Port Hills only a few kilometres from Christchurch.

Why does a community come together?

Because these people enjoy warm hearted company that belongs to a creative and caring organisation. One that has the component of Time Banking being integral and is within the umbrella of Project Lyttelton - it is in many ways the glue that along with mindfulness and love - hold this little community together.

When the Christchurch Earthquakes struck 6 years ago - Project Lyttelton was already in operation and they were in many ways pivotal in assisting in many areas of this disaster.

That as a community it is very open to ideas - if someone comes to them with a concept they will first - run it past their ‘vision’ - and if it fits and if there is a champion of this vision - they will take it on and support that idea. The important component, is having a champion to run it - as often ideas do come up, but if they have no champion it fails because no one is ‘eating breathing and being it.’

When they take on an activity or enterprise, Project Lyttleton also puts an advisory group around it, as it can be quite lonely, and this advisory group can then offer ‘group wisdom’ to support and assist it in steering this idea or concept into fruition.

Mind Maps & Time Banks Are Important

So they draw up a Mind Map to get a spatial plan of what ideas come up - many of them innovative and what Margaret has found that time and again, that a Time Bank is integral in nearly every mind map that they draw up - because a Time Back has the names of people who have the skills and the know-how and connections to make projects happen.

Time Banks, Margaret says, are the blood supply or the nervous system of the whole area - that as a singular person championing their own project where you have to be your own lawyer, accountant, marketeer, artist, salesperson, go-for - when you are part of a team - you draw from the collective skills of your Time Bank. This is the gift and magic of organising a time bank in your localised area. You are resource rich!

In NZ Time Banking is based around people’s secondary skills - that are not their main form of income - as they are taxed if they are following their primary financial means of earning a living.

For example - if you are a builder who can do hedge cutting by swapping an hour with a florist who is prepared to paint your garage - one hour of each doing what they are ‘2nd best at’ - is how time banks are structured here in NZ.

In the USA and the UK - time banks are exempt from tax - so NZ is very behind with the times on this issue. Where in future there may be an opportunity in NZ when more Time Banks become ubiquitous across the country - there may then be legislation passed that allows an accountant to swap an hour of their accountancy time to have one hour of lawn mowing done, by a full time lawn mower - in return.

A Large Membership for Their Area.

The localised Lyttelton Township has a population of 2,500 and around the broader basin it’s naturally a lot larger - yet their Time Bank has around 780 members - which offers up a very broad area of skills that can be drawn on.

They also have Savings Pools where people save collectively and yet lending to each other interest free - and the trust that is around this unique way of pooling money is very abiding.

Huge Amounts of Trust

Margaret says that one of our biggest blocks is around how we think and that we need to have a totally new look at how we bank, because we have in some ways a large collective block on how we see banks these days - from the large ubiquitous commercial banks and our unknowing-ness around Savings Pools, Cooperative Banks - Trust Banks Time Banks and Green dollars.

Strong Values Base

Project Lyttelton is strongly values based - which they don’t actually name - but have a postcard with pictures of these values on - which ‘hint’ as to what these values might be. Margaret talks a lot about love and also generosity and kindness and the practice of generosity does amazing things and to offer things to people - not expecting anything in return - allow marvellous things to happen.

Rebecca Solnit’s book: A Paradise Built in Hell - Extraordinary Communities that Arise from Disaster - http://www.onthecommons.org/paradise-built-hell#sthash.R8lu4JYo.dpbs

Where in disasters people do come together - Whereas Hollywood may show mayhem and everyone running amuck but in reality - people all pull together - they sense a deeper connection - Margaret says that when a disaster happens, everyone ‘drops their stuff’ and only think about helping their neighbour - that before the authorities finally show up - that little window before - is like paradise (group mind connects) - because everyone is working together - and now today, with that disaster behind them - many people go back to how they were prior to the Earthquake and forget what once was - and Margaret understands that - because our world is run on a financial model - that earning money and getting money to buy things is the central thing - and this brings about disconnection again.

Listen to Margaret talk about how the Time Bank came to be of huge assistance in the Earthquake that also affected Lyttelton - big time.

Associate Professor Lucie Ozanne has written a document on Time Banking -

http://timebanks.nz/resources - That during the time of a disaster, was actually documenting the Lyttelton Time Bank before that disaster struck and was able to follow through giving major insights to its efficacy - as there is very little research on a group being monitored prior to and during a disaster. This document has gone worldwide showing that a Time Bank can be pivotal when disaster strikes.

Challenges

The NZ Authorities acknowledged and appreciated what Project Lyttelton accomplished during and after the Earthquake with no financial support.

However Margaret says that Time Banks need to be acknowledged in such a way as to pay the administrators, because they cannot live on just credits alone etc - as there is rent to pay and all the other costs in living are many.

She says this needs to be changed (because at another level they can act as an auxiliary Civil Defence) and it’s too hard for Time Banks to just exist without greater support from the established order.

As Time Banks can run far more efficiently if there is someone working in a paid role. This way the community would become far more cohesive, mindful and caring.

Funding for local initiatives like Project Lyttelton is becoming more difficult to obtain too - for reasons unknown - community initiatives of closer knit neighbourhoods is very difficult to enable Government officials to comprehend - so she and the Project Lyttelton team are looking at social enterprises to enable them to support themselves.

Social Enterprises

Their farmers market falls into this category - on good Saturdays they have 50 plus stalls at their market - which all pay a fee that pays the Farmers Market manager as well as supporting the community garden.

That Garage Sales* are another social enterprise - and this is continuing from strength to strength. (Listen to this interview) People will give stuff and earn ’time credits’.

Plus Project Lyttelton have rented an earthquake deserted (but safe) building where people also bring all their items* that they want to sell.

Community Group Involvement

If you are a community group you can come and run that Garage Sale with that group officiating and at the end of the day they can receive the ‘profits of the take' etc and that is the way community groups can piggyback on outreach of Project Lyttelton's goodwill. For example $500 profit was taken on one particular Saturday.

And they can have 4 Garage Sales a week. They have two part time employees - so they are providing work. People who are in real need - they don’t have to pay … Margaret, says she loves this model and it feeds people at multiple levels - and the people who run it get to know who needs what in the community. (listening is best)

Time Banks Again - there is not a model that suits everyone - as all situations are different - however the general principles apply - transplanting one model to another area though good in theory - always needs to be revised and changed for that other area or region.

Living and Thriving in the Community

Margaret gets her weekly shopping from the Farmers’ Market - due to it being organic and fresh - not from the supermarket where a lot of produce is packaged cartoned and tinned.

A Local Co-Operative

Project Lyttelton has a ‘friendship’ partnership in a Co-op in Lyttleton which has whole foods and it is owned by 200 people in Lyttelton - this is where Margaret obtains her whole foods, etc - so she shops at the Farmers’ Market and the Co-op. That the Co-op also acts as a conduit for all the localised farmers and producers that can sell their products into it and whatever organic produce that they only grow in a very short season - they can bring it to the Co-op.

Social Interaction

They do a lot around food - and shared events - Farmers Market on Saturdays are the best social bumping space to meet people.

Project Lyttleton has a board meeting once a months and they eat and discuss things - paid staff and volunteers meet every week and there is always food there - the savings pools meet every month over a shared meal too.

Another fun event is called grow your own - and a dinner of your own growing - (Listen)

The important Essence or Ingredient of Community is:

 

  • Openness - being open with all your accounts - let everyone know where you are getting your money from.
  • Being Truthful
  • Love
  • Being Values based

 

And Appreciative Enquiry - looking at what is going well and seeing why it is going well - and transferring why it’s going well, to other things and projects - and while it is going well including values, like looking at clear communication and acting kindly towards each other.

Including understanding conflict resolution - not that they have had real conflict but to embrace the skill of negotiating through goodwill. Gaining skills to work between and with each other.

The Significance of Appreciative Enquiry

Put up an idea and the very next question is, where’s the money? - Project Lyttelton very seldom gets that question now - listen to how they manifest their money - note it is very inventive and novel …. Margaret says if they have a dream - put it out there - drop all attachment to it - and then it starts happening … and all sorts of possibilities come into being … keep talking to people - because they may have skills and they may be the answer.

What NZ needs to involve themselves with, is that each NZer is encouraged to find what finds them joy and what they feel drawn to and follow this notion.

As this is an Election Year we need to be more involved at a national level and raising questions as to what we would like NZ to become … and raising questions.

Be involved in letter writing, submissions - attending meetings even marches and rallies Margaret said she is not drawn to such things, but when times require it she has done it from time to time.

Thinking Global and Acting Local - is where her passion resides.

Present Focus

Project Lyttelton are in the process of running a repair cafe … and remoulding plastics … looking at their waste stream - educating people into the finite nature of our resources - using things wisely and effectively - plus recycling, reusing and reducing items.

She mentions Doughnut Economics - Kate Raworth

As we are taking and extracting far more from our planet’s resources - some say we are taking far more than our planet actually can replace.

Becoming aware of our ecological well being - our mental well being and our spiritual wellbeing. Deepening our connection with life.

The Global Commons - recognising that the global commons belongs to no one except the biota of our planet - The Global Commons is the opposite to a corporate raid.

Connection at a Higher Level

Margaret wants to see a method where ‘groups’ can be in contact and develop the skills in linking organisations together so that we can share - be more cohesive and connected with each other - especially spokespeople.

By building the capacity to communicate nationwide across the sectors - grassroots groups - organising for a common purpose. So that we network our vision to more and more New Zealanders across the country, pulling the threads of community closer together.

Such as ‘Not for Profit's’ in Christchurch need to form a Time Bank and all work together - and start linking up with expertise and material things like a shared truck or digger as an example.

In a Future Scenario Margaret would like to get rid of party politics - as it locks down initiative - and that we are now caught up in the games that are being played between various parties - as there is no real discussion - (which she admits is a sweeping generalisation) but we understand what she is saying. That the issues have to be debated in a far more open forum.

Instant Localised Internet Voting

She would also like to see ‘instant localised voting’ on a ’safe, non-hackable’ system that allowed people to vote on initiatives at a very localised level - that are binding - in that smaller regions could have more control over their affairs - and possibly voting on Daily Issues even - they would come up on your computer at specific times - maybe every day and this would involve us in ‘Participative Democracy’ and we could vote on the issues. (Listen to the interview)

She also wants a group of people within the localised community to become ‘the voice of the community’ - so that instead of having one person speaking on behalf of the community that these ‘elected people’ - from youth to elders - can then speak - knowing that at heart they have the communities blessing - Margaret says there is a lot of wisdom embedded in her community so why her? And when you get this group together - you can pay them in time credits

This is a very thought provoking and empowering interview of bringing ‘conscious’ care to you localised area and community.

http://www.lyttelton.net.nz

 


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Tim Lynch

Tim Lynch

Tim Lynch, is a New Zealander, who is fortunate in that he has whakapapa, or a bloodline that connects him to the Aotearoan Maori. He has been involved as an activist for over 40 years - within the ecological, educational, holistic, metaphysical, spiritual & nuclear free movements. He sees the urgency of the full spectrum challenges that are coming to meet us, and is putting his whole life into being an advocate for todays and tomorrows children. 'To Mobilise Consciousness.'

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