Martin Large: Community Land Trusts, Cooperative Ways of Buying Land and Ecological Homes

Interviewed by

Tim Lynch

Martin Large: Community Land Trusts, Cooperative Ways of Buying Land and Ecological Homes

Martin, jumps into the interview likening our current economic situation to a tarmac road - the ‘neo liberal’ tarmac road - that is now breaking up, as there are more and more crises - and in among all the cracks there are many kinds of green shoots coming up to form a new ‘commonwealth’ society.

In many ways this is exemplified by Lyttelton and Project Lyttelton, where Martin was being interviewed by telephone from.

He states this is a global phenomena that’s actually happening in so many countries as a conscious change due to discontent with the ‘monetisation’ of so much of our culture and way of life.

Martin mentions that after the two huge destructive earthquakes that hit both Christchurch and also Lyttelton - the community pulled together and they both have been able to recover remarkably well - (and still having much work to do on this) and he asks the question. Does this prefigure the challenges we face with climate destruction if we do not take timely action?

http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=11935975

The slow moving disaster for NZ’s future - areas that are gradually being affected by rising sea levels.

The Commons

How can we live and have access to both land and a home?

Marine talks about Community Land Trusts and how they can take care of the ‘commons’ of land, water and air, but mainly land for farming and housing. Yet, we have also lost many of our connections with the ‘commons.’

The failure of Neo Liberalism

Saying that the pendulum in NZ is swinging away from Rogernomics and Ruthanasia (Slang for Two previous Ministers of Finance from the NZ Labour and National Parties that championed neo - liberalism) That we are now realising the need to re-balance our society during this present political times by inviting not only the public and private sectors but also the plural sector, the civil society sector - who he says we see for example in Project Lyttelton.

Community and Countrywide Ownership

That NZ was once a large co-operative country that had many commercial co-operatives - dairy farmers being the largest of them, but also, having huge Mutual Insurance Societies, Trust Banks up and down the country, Building Societies, Trust Hotels and Alcohol outlets - and we have basically let them slip out of NZ ownership and control since 1984, when the rightwing overseas bankers infiltrated the NZ Labour Party with the Neo liberal agenda, of self interest.

Co-operative Values

Cooperative Values of self help and self responsibility, community benefit, community participation, openness, transparency and community investment - which Martin says is a wonderful picture - why did we let all this go and why have NZers forgotten this profoundly important history? (Martin was taken aback to learn of this.)

He says that in the UK in the 1990’s and early 2000s, many of the building societies that were member owned and were mutuals for savings, loans and mortgages were privatised too and then they went bust! Resulting in the taxpayers shelling out a trillion pounds to support them in 2007-8.

In the UK Martin belongs to and banks with the Nationwide Building Society, and it’s still member owned which is the largest mutual still operating and it is very efficient and more effective and provide better service than the big five banks of Britain, that he terms casino banks.

Co-operative originated in UK

He talks about the early Co-ops in the 19th century and early 20th century in UK and the Newcastle area and spread to Australia and NZ - See Rochdale Principles.

The Rochdale Society of Equitable Pioneers, (RCEP) founded in 1844, is usually considered the first successful cooperative enterprise, used as a model for modern coops, following the 'Rochdale Principles'. A group of 28 weavers and other artisans in Rochdale, England set up the society to open their own store selling food items they could not otherwise afford. Within ten years there were over a thousand cooperative societies in the United Kingdom.

These were to counter - liberal laissez faire economic business systems of today - dog eat dog world.

https://community-wealth.org/strategies/panel/coops/index.html

Research published by the Worldwatch Institute found that in 2012 approximately one billion people in 96 countries had become members of at least one cooperative.[2] The turnover of the largest three hundred cooperatives in the world reached $2.2 trillion – which, if they were to be a country, it would make them the seventh largest.

This was one way of pushing back for the individual and those less financially advantaged … unity is strength.

Now today - how can we reinvent cooperative methods and recreate different ways of cooperating … this is what Martins sees as our localised challenge.

Today in the UK

In England in Gloucestershire the Stroud Commonwealth enable social businesses - that were very interested in local food. Having enabled the development of one of the first of 6 community supported agriculture cooperatives.

http://www.stroudcommunityagriculture.org

This is a consumer cooperative who commit to buying produce from farmers a year in advance and they guarantee that income for a whole year. There are 290 people in this co-operative - they have a budget meeting every year - they agree with the farmers what should be grown and they support the farmers wherever it is feast or famine.

Now Stroud Community supported agriculture is an exemplar of this very different way of running a farm. Now there are over 200 of these consumer cooperatives throughout the UK. Listen …

Ooooby (Out of our own back yard)

Martin talks of New Zealand’s Ooooby as a world class exemplar of a grassroots food distributor - of boxed fresh organic fruit and vegetables run by a team with Pete Russell originally out of Waiheke island, now in Auckland and with connections into Australia and the US.

https://www.ooooby.org

Using leading edge software - to really connect people with quality food.

Also, Ooooby is looking at how ownership can be distributed among the founders, customers and producers. - They are exploring new ownership forms - the sharing of the ‘common wealth’ of their enterprise. Calling ooooby - a real green shoot.

Purchasing Land

Enabling farmers and communities to buy land and then put this into a farm trust.

A template for young farmers -listen - (it is only a 70 meg download = 35 family fotos)

Martin gives an example of how 8 hundred thousand pounds was raised and exchanged for shares - from 8,000 people - Farmland Trust. Listen to how they make it happen. Started off with only one extra job, now there are 27 jobs.

Now Co-operative UK https://www.uk.coop/is the trade body set up - to facilitate cooperative development.

As a result several thousand different provident and industrial societies have emerged out of this that have groups of people co-operating around renewable energy, for owning the village pub or owning the value shop. This has all come about from a standing start back in 2005-6.

Click to Listen - Martin shares lots of valuable information especially that we need an organisational structure that helps people reconnect with the land - through buying shares as well as a structure for investment - so the co-operative form is ideal for this.

Connecting with like Minds

This includes every year having festivals, courses and workshops - to keep the energy dynamic and people educated and learning.

Plus making the annual general meeting a festive event.

Reconnecting with the land and learning how to do this via artistic workshops from bird watching to biodiversity - interpretive walks and fantastic design workshops by permacuture - horticulture, bees etc is all part of a holistic understanding of our connection to the natural world.

Todays food revolution of fresh local, organic produce is also a cultural revolution as it is feeding our soul, giving nutrient dense vitamins and minerals to us as brain food - so that we make good decisions etc especially because of our deepening spiritual connection to the land. Plus with co-operatives slowly emerging especially in the UK it is an economic revolution as well.

Housing Ownership

Housing model - to find ways of owning your own dwelling.

Community Land Trust

Land is seen not as a commodity but as a commons - to be stewarded That for each community to steward their land commons is for community benefit - thus a lead structure is required. http://www.communitylandtrusts.org.uk/what-is-a-clt

Common Land - Freehold land in Britain can be held in common by a kind of community land trust called the National Trust - which is a body of 3 million members owning 1500 farms and own 3 or 400 stately homes - and people have the right to walk there - and some areas where commoner farmers have the right to graze cows there.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_Trust_for_Places_of_Historic_Interest_or_Natural_Beauty

http://www.vermontcf.org/Portals/0/Uploads/Documents/bclt_strategic_plan.pdf

Burlington Community land Trust in Vermont - Shepherded through by Bernie Sanders - 3000, houses owned by their community land trust - which owns the land - where you can buy houses at 2/3 to 1/2 the market value - because the other half is owned by the land trust. A very interesting model.

Other Subjects Covered

Co-operative Land Societies.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Housing_cooperative

Letchworth Heritage Trust

http://www.letchworth.com/heritage-foundation/about-us

Covering ohu’s that the NZ Labour Government started off in 1973 in a concession to counter-cultural values, it sponsored the development of ‘ohu’ – rural communes.

Happiness architecture and beauty - Kevin McCloud of Grand Designs

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kevin_McCloud

Special low energy homes that are environmentally benign.

https://www.theguardian.com/tv-and-radio/2017/sep/04/grand-designs-presenter-kevin-mccloud-seeks-to-raise-50m-to-build-600-homes-a-year

Martin is here in NZ at the invitation of Caroline Hughes of the NZ Land Trust

http://www.thelandtrustnz.com

 

Martin Large of:

https://www.hawthornpress.com/about-hawthorn/

 

 


Leave a Comment


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.'

Archive