Words by Agamemnon Otero and Kyle Baldock
Love, support and generosity can be built into business.
Matriarchs, who contribute this energy to civil society, have traditionally been pushed out of the business sector by men. Energy Garden is reconstructing a holistic business case based on the benevolent governance of the matriarch with the Community Benefit Society, a simple governance mechanism which gives equal standing to all members, regardless of the amount they put-in.
The Collective Feeling Conference exploded with laughter and song as we discussed ‘Radical happiness.’
What makes you get up in the morning when climate destabilisation is displacing more people than war? When global wild fish stocks have plummeted below 16% and the biome is suffering mass extinction? How do you then go to bed and do it all again the next day while hearing people were trampled on Black Friday; while Brexit persists with its modern fiefdoms too proud to support the next generation; while the twitter-twatter of a certain political figure’s blatant racism, sexism and isolationism echoes in our news feeds?
At the core of the 21st century dilemma is not the idea that capitalism is somehow “broken.” Rather, the form of governance that we have is faulty capitalism masquerading as a free market economy. What results is inequality in all sectors: while profits soar, costs are externalised and inputs like labour and resources are not sufficiently valued. For example, if your clothing manufacturer had to pay for all the environmental destruction it created in Bangladesh, its end product would not be cheaper than clothes produced at home.
Our extractive 21st-century mentality is run by fiduciary responsibility
An entity must legally create the highest financial return in the shortest amount of time for its share-holders. If one wants to trade internationally, one must have international labour and secure resource prices in international markets. This system treats nature and individuals as commodified assets to be exploited along with everything else. As it rampages forward, it strips individuals and societies of their dignity. But it doesn’t have to be this way.
Emotion. Warmth. Sharing. These ideas don’t have to be excluded from business.
That is how and why I get up in the morning, knowing that one can embed radical happiness and love into a legally-binding structure. Community Benefit Societies have one-share-one-vote governance as their foundation. All Repowering initiatives are collective action and collective decision-making Societies, capable of supporting themselves with sustainable models.
In the case of Energy Garden, it supports over one hundred community groups on thirty London Overground stations, empowering citizens to take an active interest in their surroundings and health. These once-disparate individuals and groups work together to beautify Overground stations, produce food in urban spaces and improve air quality for their children. Getting hands in the soil, gardening, tending bees, cultivating green walls and re-wilding areas for biodiversity visibly demonstrates the power of community.
Our community bond creates a publicly-available crowdfund to purchase solar assets that generate revenue to pay for garden maintenance and youth training and provide a sustainable return on all investments. Calling Energy Garden a “business,” then becomes a semantic definition that disregards the positive feedback loops for its ever-changing people and ideas. It is bound together by a common desire for cleaner air, air quality education, horticulture, biodiversity and, finally, a financial return.
A new best business practice- with matriarch energy at the core
The amazing people working across housing estates and train stations are a part of this one-share-one-vote society, deciding on things like garden design, what to plant, whom to share harvest with and how to have fun doing it. At the heart of all of these projects are mothers, grandmothers and great grandmothers. Like great trees, these matriarchs disseminate wisdom and wellbeing into the community through a benevolent governance. To construct a brighter future, we must rediscover the innate wisdom of matriarch knowledge and transform our mentality toward a new best business practice.