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Economic Development

Co-creating a community economy Nature can live with – Using a systems approach to Local Economic Development

Learning CirclesYour Community Earning, Yearning & Learning
CDRom by Paul Wildman & Helen Schwencke
Revised edition 2010 (first edition 2003) published by:
Prosperity Press paul@kalgrove.com (Paul Wildman)
PO 73 Northgate Brisbane 4013
and Community Learning Initiatives Inc. cla@dovenetq.net.au  (Helen Schwencke)


Benefits for you and your community from applying this CD: As the world faces uncertain times the issue of local economic resilience is coming more and more to the fore.  In developed nations such an approach to Community Economic Development can generate up to 25% of necessary local economic activity.  In many communities this will mean the difference between sink and swim.  Certainly this was a vital part of community for our parents and grandparents and I argue, will be increasingly important to our children and absolutely vital to our grandchildren after the apocalypse so to speak as they will be living in a world made by hand.

Many approaches to Local Economic Development seek to attract ‘big projects or industries’ well OK but these won’t help the community understand the economy development process as a learning one and the big ‘footloose’ industry will eventually just move somewhere else that offers lower wages and taxes often overseas, and the big Government project can be restructured!! Or they focus on one aspect of the local economic ecology e.g. community attractiveness or micro credit or skills training.  None of this generates what we want, and try to do with this CD that is build local economic resiliency.

What this CD does is to join up these dots – into a ‘wholistic resilient’ approach to the local economy system.  What we need then are endogenous jobs within our community generated from within our community not temporary jobs generated by companies from without our community.

This system of Learning Circles is self administering and your community can start at any topic.  The meetings will typically spread over a three month period of six fortnightly house meetings with economy development homework in between each circle meeting.  Generally up to a dozen folks can take part – half that is fine, more become a squeeze and folks can miss out on having their say.

About This Community Economy Development Action Learning Circle Kit.  It is aimed at assisting all communities’, especially rural and remote areas, both nationally and internationally, to respond positively and practically to the economic challenges of globalisation by generating working and learning opportunities in working, earning and learning for people, particularly for marginalised youth and mature workers.

With increasing layoffs, globalisation, downsizing and the rural crisis, the following question is often asked: What can my community and I (little old me) do to help provide our youth and others needing to improve their incomes with local employment opportunities? With over half of the world’s biggest economic entities no longer nation states, and with unemployment and underemployment endemic in many regional areas of Australia, new ways of working, and better ways of generating jobs are urgently needed. The leaning circle adopts a practical self-help learning and action-based approach aimed at empowering your community to co-create local economic opportunities for your children’s children.

The learning circle comprises five topics. The questions below indicate the contents of each topic:

  • Community Question: Do you want to unlock what happens in our community economy so that you can help create (l)earning, that is, economic options for our, and our children’s future? While you do an analysis of [y]our community economy this topic guides you through a process involving ‘what’, ‘who’, ‘when’ and ‘where’, to lead to community economic action. This topic takes a broad-brush approach to look at your community and what it comprises.
    Navigation answer – see the CD Topic: Unlocking Our Community Economy
  • Do you want to understand a community or local economy as a whole system? Do you may want to consider the ‘what’ and ‘why’ of your involvement with developing your community and its economy? This topic will help you to develop an understanding of some of the theoretical background to the Community Economic Development approach and how it applies to your own perspective.
    Navigation answer – see the CD Topic: Understanding Community Economic Development?
  • Community Question: Do you want to have a go at building your role as a community entrepreneur and, in doing so, helping yourself and your community develop to be ready, willing and able to undertake community economic development actions? This topic concentrates on the ‘who’ and ‘what’ of developing economic action. It starts with yourself, builds to a collective learning circle perspective and then returns to you and the others who will take the actions you choose.
    Navigation answer – see the CD Topic: Building Our Entrepreneurial Community Economy
  • Community Question: Do you want to find out how to fertilise your community’s ‘innovation’ soil, that is, ‘where’ to plant and grow your community economic development plants? Understanding and being able to implement innovation processes is crucial for communities to develop actions that are at the cutting edge. Once fertile soil has been identified, you will need to find out how to prepare and care for the soil, select your tools and plant and nurture your crop in order to obtain a harvest. Community Economic Development actions, therefore, need to link with your personal and collective community needs today and for your children tomorrow.
    Navigation answer – see the CD topic: Developing Our Innovative Community Economy
  • Community Question: Do you want development and that is alsosustainable’? This topic leads you to identify sustainability issues and assess possible actions to implement sustainable community economic development. It also provides an introduction to the Triple Bottom Line of economic, social and environmental sustainability and other dimensions of sustainability.
    Navigation answer – see the CD topic: Sustaining Our Community Economy

Would you like to be involved?

A learning circle (up to 12 people) will generally meet at least each fortnight for a few months usually at a member’s house or a community setting. Actions are generally discussed and undertaken between meetings. Meeting facilitation is at the discretion of the group and can be one person or can change from meeting to meeting. Generally members commit to 6-8 meetings and associated actions.

Becoming involved could include being a critical friend, organising and running an action-learning circle, supporting or mentoring others interested in conducting a learning circle, and/or helping to promote and distribute the kits.

What does this Action Learning Circle publication include?

The Learning Circle is published as a CD ROM with an introductory booklet. All materials are in ready to access and use format either as .pdf or .doc files. An internet connection is not required; however, the resource materials on the CD do include key web sites that can be accessed by the internet. In specific situations, upon request, the Learning Circle can be provided in hardcopy form.

Aimed at the Economic Bush Mechanic in all of us each topic (as described above) comprises 4 documents; the:

(1) Topic Guide that leads the group through the process of learning, developing actions and implementation plans,

(2) Background Information that provides extra supporting information to group participants who want more in depth perspectives, and

(3) Record of Outcomes, Learning & Actions that provides a format to help the group keep records
(4) Evaluation sheet for evaluating the series and your learning circle as well as your local economy

The Action Learning Circle kit is supplemented by additional resource papers and materials. These are:

  • 40 Steps to creating your prosperous small enterprise (a workbook) by Paul Wildman
  • Community participation strategies by Wendy Sarkissian
  • Conducting a Community Learning &Training Needs Assessment by Paul Wildman &  Helen Schwencke
  • Problem Solving & Decision-making Toolbox by Paul Wildman & Jon Warner
  • Building Capacities for Community Economic Development through Community Transformation by Rick Smyre 10pgs.
  • Positive Community Futures through Action Foresight: a step-by-step approach by Jose Ramos 13pgs.
  • Local Government As A Proactive Partner In Community Economic Development? by Jill Jordan 15pgs.
  • Making Community Economic Development Plans Work through Communities of Practice by Richard Coutts and David Milstein 22pgs.

Top 20 things to know about doing a start-up CED (Community Economic Development) project

  1. Community Entrepreneurial/CED readiness (checklist in the CD)
  2. Local economic history – can this be recovered?
  3. Formal and informal power structures often the aunties that make the difference – informal structures usually organised by women are the trick
  4. Requires a commitment to nurturing (yin) NOT a big projects (yang) approach
  5. Criticality is ‘buy the bank’ that is establish, harness and develop local finance packages inc. local currency
  6. See CED as an action learning process potentially using learning circles that will take some time (several months min.) go get some results that
  7. Uses the green circle diagram as a local economy system
  8. Be prepared to join the dots of the existing shards/fragments of the local economic system e.g. local currency || local farmers market || community garden || skills development || local sparkley hub/CED co-ordination || industry/government attraction and retention || small business incubation, establishment, develop and retention
  9. Ethical commitment to CED and a recognition that local produce can cost a margin above mass produced produce
  10. Utterly unshakable commitment to Repair and Reuse before Recycle (which is an admission of failure)
  11. Preparedness to accept an approach to local diversity that eschews a ‘one size fits all’
  12. Where authorities are amendable try to go for a ‘Zone of Socio-Economic Innovation’
  13. Include genders, generations and generation boomers as well as Gen X/Y’s – some of these folks do not have the internet and are basically poor &/or ‘other’
  14. Help some of these folks stay under the police states tax etc. radar
  15. This is where an internet and physical node/hum/hub can prove invaluable esp. in how the two interface
  16. Develop a local CED exchange system where cash, cind (kind) and care can be interchangeable
  17. Recognition of the difference between the money and physical economies and a concentration on the latter that is the physical economy
  18. Conflict pre-emption procedure, open grievance procedure
  19. Extensive and ongoing induction program for newbies regular update courses for oldbies – this program MUST be physically signed onto by newbies
  20. Rules of engagement for the project, subsidiary projects and meetings to rigorously understood and mutually enforced

Contact details For information about the contents please phone: 61-7-3266-7570 Mobile: 0412-027-818 (Paul Wildman paul@kalgrove.com ) or Helen Schwencke on 07 3844 8069. Evaluation copies of some topics will be available by email from Community Learning Initiatives Inc. email: cla@dovenetq.net.au , ph: +67 7 3844 8069


Order Form: Our Community Earning and Learning: Adult Action Learning Circle Kit

Name/Contact Person: …………………………….…Organisation /Institution: ……………………………………..

Postal Address: ………………………Suburb/Town: ………………… State: ………….. Postcode:………

Phone: ………………………Fax: ………………………Email: ………………………..

 Send or email order to: Paul Wildman c/- KALGROVE Pty Ltd PO 73 Northgate 4013 Brisbane Australia.  E: paul@kalgrove.com .
Please make cheques out to P Wildman
c/- the above address.

Enclosed please find payment for

$60.00 (incl. GST, and p&h) for individuals and community groups

$100.00 (incl GST, and p&h) for institutions

NB: The CD is endorsed by Learning Circles Australia and Community Learning Initiatives Qld.
The first author is available on email at paul@kalgrove.com, phone +61 7 32667570 and Skype phwildman
CED is one part of a co-created community others include sustainability and reuse and repair (called the Bush Mechanic or Artificer in Australia see http://www.kalgrove.com/adultlearning/ Left Hand Menu – Bush Mechanics Exemplar Projects ‘Community Economy Bushy’ for further details.

Also available from the author: (1) Wildman, P. (2011). BioChar Action Learning Circles: toward a future Nature can live with. Action Learning Circles based on Paul Taylor’s The BioChar Revolution book (2010). P. Wildman. Brisbane: The Kalgrove Institute, with Topic Guides – 40pgs.

(2) Wildman, P. and D. Cooke. (2011). Designing a Resilient Community Economy Incorporating Biochar. Uki, Castle on the Hill Learning Centre. DVD-1hr – presentation 03-04-2011.

(3) Taylor, P., Wildman, P. and D. Cooke. (2011). Biochar Seminar: Workshop and Lectures.  Paul Taylor: Describes and demonstrates fully the process of creating quality Biochar and its agriculture and planetary benefits.  Paul Wildman follows and contextualised Dr. Taylors first address viz. PW’s address Designing a resilient Community Economy Incorporating Biochar. Dolph Cooke speaks on Australian Biochar Industries within Paul W’s address.  Uki, Castle on the Hill Learning Centre. 3hrs- DVD – presentation 03-04-2011.

V7@20-06-2011 PW

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