Our good friend Andy Lester of A Rocha pointed out to me that so many of the people who attended the JiE conferences in Birmingham (2014) and Bristol (2015) were the people that usually turn up to our events. One might call them ‘the usual suspects’ – people from that small group pf loyalists who support a range of different green Christian activities.
So let’s make the Big Workshop a bit different. A task for each and every one of us: recruit an unusual suspect for the Big Workshop!
So to help you persuade someone a bit different to come, here are some of the topics that we will be covering.
In the café conversations participants will be presented with a range of cards to discuss, some with information, some with graphics, some with questions. The general theme will be ‘what makes us consume as we do’. We will learn that in the UK we receive advertising messages on which 20 billion is spent each year in the UK – that’s about £300 on average for every man woman and child. Advertising is only the tip of the iceberg of a powerful and sophisticated modern marketing process. Other components include the ‘printing’ of money by the banks, in the form of loans to people to facilitate new purchases, and promotion of the cult of novelty. We will learn some of the consequences of this: on families in particular in the pressures they are under to go into debt, and consequently on well-being, and of course on the implications for our natural environment long term.
As you can see, these are more everyday concerns than the topic of a ‘new economy’ might suggest. So let’s identify people some people who concerned about the well-being of children and families, and bring them along on September 18th. Parents, teachers, health professionals, concerned grand-parents and older relatives. Because the young spend so much time in front of screens they are particularly vulnerable to marketing messaging – and parents know it and feel the pressures. Teachers know it, as classroom concentration is affected. CAB advice workers know it – they have the queues of people who have got into debt. Anti-poverty campaigners may also be interested. They may be aware of how low pay, zero hours contracts, etc., interact with consumerist pressures to make a bad situation worse.
Parents, teachers, advice workers, poverty campaigners – these are just some of the people we might engage on this topic and encourage to come on a journey with us. In our vision for the new economy we discuss what the Christian faith has to offer: not just in campaigning for specific changes in our political economy but in how we can work with other faiths and secular society organisations in inspiring people and helping shape a better world.
Your ‘unusual suspect’ will be glad they have been ‘detained’ by the end of the day!
Joint Co-ordinator, joy in Enough