Open for business?
By Elena Plugaru –
As a Regenerative Economics student at Schumacher College, I am excited to be here, in Totnes, at a time when the Devon Doughnut is taking shape. At the Coffee and Doughnuts session on 4th January 2021, I felt grateful to be witnessing the power of collective ‘kneading’. The session centered on how Cornwall County Council are evolving their Decision Wheel to help them, and others, make differently-framed decisions and evaluate initiatives.
Having recently done some research on Community Wealth Building, a movement which aims to create fairer and more just local economies by adopting progressive procurement to redirect wealth, I remarked how important the is relationship between the community, the council and local business in creating long-lasting, positive change. The conversation sparked my curiosity…how would the Doughnut be useful to local businesses?
I will start by acknowledging that these are hard times for most businesses. Besides coping with lockdown restrictions, employee furloughs, stock shortages etc, businesses are also asking themselves some tough questions about their purpose and ability to adapt. Agility, solidarity and humility might be qualities to support an organisation on this journey. Whilst these might not be popular words in the business world, these might be the bridge between today and the future.
The Devon Doughnut could provide much-needed guidance for businesses in understanding “today” in a different way, and preparing for a better “tomorrow”. The social foundation and ecological ceiling of the Doughnut could provide insights as to how businesses can do this. Learning to operate within these boundaries might not only contribute to creating regenerative business practices, but also ensure that there is a future role for business (and humanity!). This is agility.
Throughout the pandemic, we have seen wonderful ways in which solidarity manifested across diverse networks and sectors: businesses, communities, governments and civil society. In working within the Doughnut framework, businesses would have the opportunity to be part of a network of like-minded enterprises on a similar path, sharing experiences, knowledge and practices. What comes to mind is the encouragement Charles Eisenstein shares: we are in this together. The burden and heaviness of the task ahead becomes lighter if shared with others, building a healthier place to live is easier when done alongside people dedicated to the same cause. This is solidarity.
But who knows what tomorrow holds? In 2020 we learnt how interconnected we are, to each other, to our environment and to other-than-human beings. We learnt that we do not control the world, instead we are participants in it. We have an opportunity to integrate, to take a more respectful place in the ecosystem of our majestic planet Earth. Through the pandemic, we are rediscovering what our true nature is. Both individuals and businesses might have recognised in 2020 that we are part of a larger whole, the ripple effects of our actions or choices can reach the other side of the world. The Doughnut explores these areas by looking at it through the following 4 lenses: local, global, social and ecological. This helps expand our vision and understand the wider effect our actions and choices might have and how to navigate in making these positive ones.
Businesses, particularly small businesses and entrepreneurs, are a vital ingredient in the Doughnut making process. Participating in collective working like this might shine a light on the unmet needs of the local community and give rise to new projects, products and services. Being open to learning from others… this, I believe, is humility.