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Bristol 2050

The peoples plan

Sorry it’s taken a while to write up last weeks meeting. Despite the torrential rain we had about 25 people come along so it was a respectable turnout.

We used the Open Space meeting thing again, it worked well, we ended up with about nine possible conversations of which I reckon about six actually happened.

Things that were discussed included:

* Tendency for the community food producers to not integrate well with food retail.

* Opportunities for urban farming on the ‘stadium’ site near temple meads, now designated as a ‘enterprise zone’

* Creating ‘clusters’ of enterprises that can re-use waste products of other nearby enterprises creating a virtuous circle and zero waste. Example:’Waste’ food  from market > Urban Care farm for composting > Food grown on site in compost > food sold back to market.

* Possibilities of using coppice as biomass heating for polytunnels in commerical urban agriculture.

* Bicycle theft & prevention!

* How the 2050 process is a divergent exploritary process at this stage, many felt it would converge on concrete proposals and plans, but not just yet.

* The Occupy movement seems to be attempting to tackle systematic problems, can it bring existing single issue campaigning groups together in a coherent way?

*  Urban agriculture and care farming is a very effective treatment for recovering drug addicts. This is an opportunity for Occupy to model effective solutions to the inner city problems that people actually care about: Drugs and Crime

*  People often lack skills in cooking and preparation of food. Part of picture is showing people how to cook with vegetables.

* The Edible Landscapes Movement in Knowle West

* Tackling complete food supply chains. Supply chain mapping of the food network is going to be undertaken

* Re-iterated importance of working with existing groups and projects. Notably Bristol Green Capital Bristol Food NetworkTranistion Bristol

* Some other stuff I have probably forgotten about

Worth stating again that the Open Space model allows for discussions on much broader topics than just those defined by the ‘organisers’ of the meeting. As shown by the bicycle discussion.

The next meeting will be in a couple of weeks. Watch this space for details..


We are hoping to create a shared vision of the future that the people of Bristol can get behind. We ran a poll on our website to decide what issue we should tackle first and you chose food.

The theme for the February the 18th meeting will be “Who should feed Bristol” The title is borrowed from the “Who feeds Bristol”  report by Joy Carey. The report would be a useful thing to read before coming along.

* Should we be producing more food locally

* How viable is urban farming in Bristol

* Can care farming help us address our cities drug problems

The meeting will again be run using the ‘open space’ model.

Artspace College who are kindly hosting the event have a on-site food project.

2pm – 5pm Sat 18th Febuary @  Artspace college  BS3 5JJ

The first Peoples 2050 meeting happened yesterday.

It’s probably worth mentioning again that this is only one of the projects emerging from Occupy Bristol. Other projects addressing different issues, utilising different ways of working will be announced shortly.

We had about 60 people come and a good range of interesting conversations.

The Open spaces meeting format was warmly received. A couple of people had questions about the facilitation, and how the format had been decided. The Open Space format was introduced and facilitated by Simon Stafford-Townsend, who’d volunteered to help.

In open space meetings the agenda and discussion topics are set by those that come to the gathering. So there was no preconceived agenda going into yesterdays meeting, beyond the question: “How can we make Bristol 2050 a success.”

Some of the conversations focused on the 2050 process and some of the conversations addressed the actual issues people wished to tackle.

If you’ve got ideas for what the theme of the next 2050 meeting should be, please let us know in the comments.

The conversations that happened were:


Lessons from occupy:

A chance for some of those involved to discuss the lessons learned. These included:

* If inner city camping is used as a tactic again, to put more effort into pre-planning some of the infrastructure and logistical issues.

* Some people put in a lot of energy early on, then had to step back and take breaks, a lot of these breaks coincided in early-mid November and let to a certain loss of momentum

* Take breaks, keep the rest of your life happening.


None specific


 How can Bristol’s Green Groups in the city work together more effectively?

* Focus on the things they agree on, put difference aside

* Link up the 2050 process with the ‘Future City’ conversations

* Continue the dialogue


* Working group formed to discuss 10 simple ideas that the groups could unite behind

* Invite all to event 7pm Hamilton House 23 Feb


Inclusion/ Diversity in Peoples Bristol 2050

* Discussed how to mobilise as many voices as possible

* Risks of a self-selecting group

* Participatory rather than telling people what is good for them

* Events in different areas of Bristol.

* Schools & Places of worship as a way of reaching out to people who may not otherwise get involved

* Diversity of activities: Only people who like meetings go to meetings

* Developing info pack that could be used by communities

* Developing talks that can be given to stimulate conversation in communities.


* Meeting in South Bristol next time


What is Success for the peoples 2050 project?

* The ‘official’ Bristol 2050 is actually Utopian in it’s own way – It imagines that continuing growth is possible, even likely!

* Reality is going to be much harsher unless we make changes soon: Peak oil, Bankrupt system

* Success might be a post-growth 2050 document

* Success might be a document(s) that show a way for a growing Bristol population to remain fed, warm and happy.


None specific



* Integrated transport authority

* Tram network

* Bike network that is not a afterthought on the side of roads

* Linking up with existing projects through


To feed into Big green week/ forum for future discussion


Technology in 2050:

* Not Luddites: Green tech

* Internet continued importance as a democratising platform

* Products kept for much longer time: Laptops for 15 years

* New models of ownership (lease rather than buy)


None specific


Local food resources:

* Lot’s of interest in food

* Discussed

* Discussed the Community supported agriculture model

* Lot of support for expanding veg in Castle Park scheme


* Working group formed

* Fund raiser for Guerrilla gardening planned


 Positive Money

* Discussed whether a return to the Gold standard could be progressive

* The present situation of Bank controlled money supply worst of all possible worlds

* Alternative methods for controlling money supply rationally discussed


* None specific (Pub discussion later touched on Pro’s con’s of )


Localism in a Global context:

* What are the limits to what we can achieve with localism?

* Creative projects to increase awareness of where products come from & impacts of production

* Articulate how we can interact for ‘good’ with the global economy


* Working group formed to map the existent links between Bristol/ Global economy


We will be running a poll to decide the theme of the next meeting. Please give us your suggestions in the comments below!

The explosion of open source software and mass co-production of things like wikipedia has shown that people together can do amazing things. It’s time to turn this to the serious business of our future.

Business West have organised a Bristol 2050 ‘consultation’ but have consulted only business leaders. Their plan focuses on business growth, not human happiness and community. It also takes no account of the reality that economic growth can’t be infinite on a finite planet, that the world economy has serious structural problems and risks widespread collapse, and that even supposing continued growth were possible, our economic model is dangerously destructive to the climate and natural world.

A group of people involved with Occupy Bristol are starting a rival (and better!) People’s Bristol 2050. We believe that between us, the people of Bristol and the surrounding area have the knowledge, ingenuity and skills to come up with a far better plan, and start putting it into action. We also think the 40 year timescale frees people to think more imaginatively, and to propose creative and hopeful futures.

We envisage the project including things like:-

  • Open Space meetings – on a variety of subjects, bringing together communities of interest, and also of place.
  • Online discussions and information sharing.
  • Outreach events in community centres
  • Approaching many different groups to get their ideas and contributions
  • Making sure that all voices are represented – all genders, sexualities, classes, abilities, ages, nationalities, faiths.
  • An ‘iterative’ process.  EG: After a first discussion on the theme of food, which comes up with some ideas and proposals, we go away, find out more, contact more groups, etc, then come back and discuss food again, in the light of what we’ve learned, what new participants contribute, and perhaps what’s come out of discussions on other themes.

Our hope is that not only will this come up with sensible ideas and plans, but that bringing interested people together to talk about this stuff will actually kick start lots of initiatives – big and small.

Our first event will be an Open Space meeting, discussing what we do next, in particular, how we make sure all voices are represented and identifying groups we should be reaching out to.

First event: Open Space meeting on how we do this and including as many voices as possible.
Where: The Trinity Centre, Trinity Rd, Bristol, BS2 0NW
When: Sat 21st Jan, 2pm onwards (prob til 4pm)

All welcome! If you’re interested, please come along. Bring your thoughts, ideas and enthusiasm, but also, please, a willingness to listen to others. We are strong together, but we must be prepared to recognise that all of us have a valid contribution to make, and none of us has all the answers.

The plan is: There is no plan.

Bristol 2050 is an attempt to use a partipatory process, through a series of open public meetings, to plan a sustainable and fair future for our cities inhabitants.

Neither the electoral cycle or the product planning horizon are far enough away to allow us to be utopian, to hope for better futures. There is very little thinking about the medium and long term.

The people’s 2050 will try to inhabit this vacuum. It will not be a top-down document or plan that anyone tries to rigidly enforce, it will not be in that sense “The Plan”. It will simply be a conversation that develops, spawning hundreds of little plans, counter plans and, crucially, actions.

We hope that by looking forward 40 years we can provide a platform for the people of Bristol to come up with some interesting ideas about how we want our city and society to be organised.

This process is in part inspired by the existing Bristol 2050 project. The only voices heard in the existing project are ‘business leaders’ (with one day event with some 14 year olds in a community centre for window dressing). Not only is this undemocratic, it’s also self-serving and short-sighted. The proposals they have put forward completely fail to acknowledge the changed political and economic situation we find ourselves in. There’s plenty of evidence that wider public participation in decision-making means better decisions – because it means more knowledge and ideas go into the mix. The peoples 2050 is an alternate vision, and we want your input into it.

Throughout history there are periodic structural crises within capitalism. In the 1930’s following the first Wall St crash we saw the seperation of investment and deposit banking. In the 1970s we saw the gold standard abandoned and the rise of neo-liberal economics, or ‘casino capitalism’.

We have again reached such a structural crisis. The neoliberal project that has brought us from the 1970’s to 2008 is morally, intellectually and actually bankrupt. We are seeing the collapse of this phase of capitalism.

Whether we see capitalism reconstituted in a new way, or whether we try something fundamentally different instead, it is at these points of structural crisis that we need bold new ideas. In Bristol we are uniquely placed to have these conversations, and maybe contribute some of these big ideas. We have a strong tradition of radicalism, which feeds into people and organisations implementing real-world solutions- for example, the Soil Association, Triodos, Sustrans and a strong Transition Network.

We don’t know at this stage how the 2050 process is going to develop. It is after all not our process, it is yours.

We do think it’s unlikely that we are going to get it right first time. We will have to use a process that revisits and re-tests the assumptions and work that we have already done. We also need the process to be massively collaborative and, over time, involve more and more people in the conversation.

What we do intend to do is to start the process. We will be holding a series of meetings in the new year to discuss how we can get started.

We are interested to explore if Open Spaces is a good way to get the conversation going.

In the meantime we would be interested to hear your utopian hopes and desires for Bristol 2050. Please email us words, drawings or images to

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