Off the Shelf: Weekly Articles from the Archive

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Stir to Action

May 25, 2020

The current pandemic has reanimated many ideas and practices we've featured in the pages of our quarterly magazine over the last few years. Now's a great time to republish them! Jonny Gordon-Farleigh, Editor


There's no shortage of ideas in our movement for a new economy and the current pandemic has started to open up the political imaginary once again.

For the next 12 weeks, we're publishing an article each week from the archive, supporting our movement to effectively respond to this crisis now and over the next year.

The series starts on Wednesday 27 May with the publication of Beyond Disaster Capitalism from our Co-operating out of Crisis issue.

Invite friends and colleagues to sign up for the newsletter, and they'll receive updates from the Off the Shelf series and other news from Stir to Action.

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What to expect in the Off the Shelf series...

Week One

Beyond Disaster Capitalism, Jonny Gordon-Farleigh

“What if the expected responses during disasters either fail to occur or are only marginal? What if the temporary breakdown of social hierarchies allows for new ideas and systems to emerge?” Read here

Week Two

A conversation with Ashley Dawson about his book Extreme Cities: The Perils and Promise of Urban Life in the Age of Climate Change

“Cities are not homogenous, though, they are sites of extreme class and race inequality – it's always the most marginalised communities that are affected.” Read here

Week Three

The Blitz, Rebecca Solnit

“Some spread out to camp in forests, caves, and the countryside outside London. Many became so inured to falling bombs they chose to stay home and chance death for a good night's sleep. The people’s role in their own defense and destiny was downplayed in order to stress an old-fashioned division of leaders and led."

Week Four

Beyond the individual in mental health & wellbeing – Sally Zlotowitz

“By focusing solely on the individual, ‘solutions’ obscure the impact of our current economic and social systems on our psychological health, essentially suggesting that we can all talk or think our way out of this mess."

Week Five

Want a new economy? Get over yourself – Daniel Stanley

“The reality is, most people have no idea what the ‘new economy’ is, and we know very little of how they feel about the component parts. Despite the need for rapid growth, incredibly there is a real lack of research on how the public feels about our key models, or how attractive they find key entry points."

Week Five

A Race for the New Economy – Guppi Bola

“Wage equality and workers rights can only be realised if we centre the BAME community at the heart of our efforts to build alternatives."

Week Seven

20 Book Clubs, 20 Co-operative Businesses – Ajowa Nzinga Ifateyo

“In 2016, twenty book clubs were formed all across Philadelphia, inspired by the historical examples of co-operative study circles, the plan was to study how to create twenty new co-operative businesses in the city.”

Week Eight

Talking sense: A Call for Democratic Speech Therapy – Riley Thorold

“Simply giving people more opportunities to vote is not the solution. Most parties now involve members in their internal decision making and the public votes in referendums more frequently than ever, yet neither of these developments has stemmed popular disengagement."

Week Nine

Councils and the Climate Emergency – Peter Lefort

“As councils we have not reached this decision to declare a climate emergency in isolation. We are all standing on the shoulders of decades of informed, passionate, and tireless campaigning. The climate emergency is not an issue we can own, and a declaration is not the end of the conversation.”

Week Ten

From What is to What If? Unleashing the Power of Imagination – Rob Hopkins

“We are relentlessly bombarded with information, all vying for our attention, to the extent that many people fight a daily battle with distraction. Author Hugh McGuire describes ‘the unavoidable siren call of the digital hit of new information’ and explains how digital technologies have changed the way he works.”

Week Eleven

Getting Local Authorities On Side – Simon Parker & Mark Walton

“If you want to build a new economy it is becoming increasingly clear that you need local authorities on your side. For all their many flaws, councils are still our only institutions that focus on the quality of life in our places. The way they spend their diminishing resources are critical to the shape of the local economy.”

Week Twelve

A Guide to Hospitality: Community Businesses & Wildcat Strikes – Amardeep Dhillon

“The workers from The Ivy House pub in South London launched a wildcat strike, shutting down the pub for three days. The striking staff demanded the reinstatement, pending investigation, of four members of staff dismissed without due process, trade union recognition, and an end to zero-hour contracts.”