Communities of the Future

Notes from the first meeting of the new SSC term – Communities of the Future

Saturday 15 September 2018 commencing 10am at Mansions of the Future, Lincoln

Pleased to welcome four new scholars taking the total attendance to eleven.

We discussed the format of the fortnightly six sessions to follow and the change of dates to ensure we gave maximum publicity to capture the interest of the new students arriving in Lincoln. Bradley agreed to check with David regarding change of date for his session = Bradley

Flyers will be produced for scholars to print and distribute where they think most appropriate = Phil/ALL

If we gain a much larger attendance for a session, we will request use of another room to allow suitable space for learning = Phil

The SSC overhead projector will be collected from Mint Lane to enable its use for anyone proposing a session = Fen

Session format: We discussed whether the person(s) providing each session should have a definitive title such as Teacher, Facilitator, Animator, Guide and so forth; there was no overall agreement, but we agreed that each session was primarily about learning from each other.

Although each session will have a particular subject, and scholars may have no prior understanding of the subject, it was discussed that future sessions should not follow entirely the same format as last term e.g. the ubiquitous ‘jug and mug’ method where there is simply an hour-long lecture and then questions afterwards.

The SSC promotes a co-operative experience of education and does not wish to replicate the standard structure of learning via lectures alone. A new scholar (Annie) whose initial education was provided in China explained how students were given an interpretation of a concept in order to answer and provoke questioning that then enabled improved skills and a personal understanding of different philosophies. For SSC scholars, it was proposed that a much more interactive way of learning via the new term sessions is preferable such as short introductions of the subject, questions put to scholars by the session ‘interpreter’ and vice versa, instant feedback, visual interpretations, shared reading, debates, workshop methods, etc. It was also proposed that an additional session could be arranged to pit one philosophy against another i.e. ‘Socialism and Eco-anarchism on trial’ in a Citizens’ Jury-type session which would be open to all to attend. Date and time = TBC

Those in attendance who will be delivering a session discussed how they expected their session to unfold and the conversation led on whether prior reading would be available to potential scholars. This then expanded the conversation to whether the course should be guided by a particular principal book. Mike helpfully suggested “The education of radical democracy” by one of the SSC scholars, Sarah Amsler. Laura agreed to contact Sarah to gain her permission and seek her advice on one chapter to focus upon for those with limited time to read the whole book or gain access to it = Laura S

Further discussion on suggested reading culminated in a whole host of potential reading i.e. Emma Goldman, Naomi Klein, Rene Eddo-Lodge, Rachel Carson and so on. It was proposed that each scholar could recommend one or two books that other scholars would enjoy. This could be included as part of their personal profile – a new aspect to be added onto the SSC website to help with engaging new scholars. The profiles are not mandatory, but for those wishing to join the SSC, an insight into the diverse background of current scholars may act as an incentive. Personnel profiles and recommended reading can be sent to Phil for updating the website = All/Phil

In referring back to how scholars engaged with learning and studying in the early days of the SSC, Fen remembered that Lucy had recalled that she felt more involved when she produced either a piece of writing, poem, joint collage or artwork – something constructive – at the end of the sessions/term to share with others. It was then suggested by Laura that each session should have a dedicated ‘note taker’ to not only record our learning but share with those scholars who could not physically attend. The ‘notes’ did not necessarily have to be lengthy or even written, visual or pictorial representations, etc., of the sessions would be encouraged. Laura called for volunteers to ‘note take’ each session and these are recorded below.

It was agreed at the end of the term – the sixth session: Emergent Learning – all scholars would be requested to bring along a 500 word summary of what they felt they had learnt over the 5 previous sessions. The summaries would be anonymous and shared in a group discussion. As part of this session, it would also focus on what was missing from the previous sessions and also discuss what topics scholars would like to cover in the next term. The session will also possibly be more of a celebration with a chance to enjoy a nibble and drink. Time and date TBC = Phil

The new session dates are:

29 September   Ownership                     Led by Bradley                      Notes by Mike

13 October        Co-operative Lincoln   Led by David and Karolina    Notes by Laura W

27 October        Permaculture                Led by Lucy & Laura S          Notes by Fen

10 November    Eco-anarchism              Led by Philip                         Notes by Bradley

24 November    Women’s Struggles       Led by Laura S & Laura W   Notes by Lucy

TBA                   Emergent Learning        All Scholars                          TBC

Scholars agreed that the new term appeared interesting and were looking forward to the six sessions.

Laura S helpfully produced a visual representation of the discussions during this format session (as attached).

Fen agreed to contact Sarah regarding the outstanding matter of exploring group dynamics and to include power relations, conflict resolution and creating a common vision as part of the SSC Constitution. On a lighter note, scholars said they would be very interested in hearing of Sarah’s recent workshop adventures in Mexico = Fen

The next Planning and Reflection meeting will be on 6th October at 10am at the Mansions.

We hope you will join us.


Social Science Centre – Lincoln

Monthly Planning & Reflection Meeting

Mansions of the Future – 04/08/2018 @ 10am

DRAFT Minutes

Attendees = 6

1..Minutes of the last meeting checked for outstanding actions, etc. – all sorted

2. An email approach from a PhD student requesting to observe the SSC; invited to submit a proposal in an accessible format and attend inaugural SSC learning session on 15 September 2018. Action: Laura S to contact John

3. Discussion on how the upcoming SSC learning courses proposals were decided, and debated that such information needs to be shared in more detail to invite democratic participation, collaboration and input from all scholars prior to finalising the course. However, this met with some disagreement. Nevertheless, the course information and a draft advertising poster will be shared amongst the SSC membership with a view to seek comments, approval, offers of assistance with facilitation, etc., by 25 August 2018 to help ensure the course is as inclusive and accessible as possible.

Action: Share course info with SSC membership

On request, some of the scholars who attended the Retreat in July to decide, organise and facilitate the new course agreed to outline the specifics:

a). After the initial introduction to the course, nominally, “Communities of the Future” due to be held on Saturday 15 September at 10 am, anyone intending to participate should commit to the whole course via attending all the fortnightly sessions to enable a stable and interactive learning group. The six sessions are:

15 September         Ownership                                      Facilitated by Bradley

29 September         Co-operative Lincoln                     Facilitated by David

13 October              Permaculture                                  Facilitated by Lucy & Laura

27 October              Eco-anarchism                               Facilitated by Philip

10 November          Women & the Commons                Facilitated by Sarah

24 November          Emergent Conclusion                     All Scholars

b). As part of the distribution process to gain membership comments on the proposed course, all facilitators will also be invited to ask for support with their session if required, to provide a short paragraph detailing the content of their learning session to engage scholars, and think about possible reading lists or materials scholars will require and such information given well ahead of the individual sessions to allow them to fully participate. It was proposed that a presentation of the learning outcomes of the course will form part of the emergent conclusion session on 25 November which will also incorporate the SSC AGM.

Action: Facilitators to be contacted

4. Attendees were invited to comment on the initial draft for the new course poster created by Laura W and Philip, and decide what information should be included to engage new participants. It was thought the title of the course “Communities of the Future” required a sub-title to help scholars understand the purpose of the course e.g. ‘Imagining an alternative and more just society’ or ‘Discovering new ways of living to create a fairer world’. As there was no agreement other than not including overtly academic terms such as “post-capitalist”, a new draft poster would be produced and distributed to the SSC membership for comments and sub-title ideas. Laura W kindly agreed to print the poster once it was agreed upon and finalised.

Action: New draft of the poster to be distributed

5. As part of the new way forward within SSC meetings, those who attended the Retreat agreed that all planning meetings should include a reflective element to allow scholars to air their concerns or queries in an open forum. As this could be potentially divisive and uncomfortable for some, it was agreed that Sarah would be invited to facilitate a specific session exploring group dynamics and to include power relations, conflict resolution and creating a common vision.

Action: Laura S to invite Sarah

6. Concern was aired that there was no formal procedure for dealing with complaints, harassment, individual conduct, inclusion, etc., and it was noted that these matters are continually ‘parked’.

7. The topic of scholar membership was highlighted with regard to the new GDPR regulations and ensuring that the SSC held up to date membership information in compliance with the law. There were some anomalies in the membership contact detail data thus further verification would be required. Unfortunately, due to other commitments, Peaceful offered his resignation from the membership and engagement role in July.

 Action: Membership form to be updated

8. To improve wider engagement and sharing of information, Laura W proposed taking on updating the SSC twitter account.

Action: Laura S to Provide Laura W with passwords

9. Next SSC planning meeting is at Mansions of the Future on 1 September 2018 commencing at 10 am. All are welcome to attend.

Unverified minutes drafted on 7 August 2018 – to be verified on 1 September 2018


SSC Retreat 2018

Social Science Centre – Retreat 14th/15th July 2018.

YHA Thurlby, Bourne, Lincolnshire.

Planning/Topics to tackle

  • Where and when (Space & Place).
  • Themes (Purpose, Big Goals).
  • Muscle pools (Skills and knowledge sensitivity).
  • How we teach and learn (Links to practical achievements and other groups).
  • Access and inclusion.

Themes and muscle pools were deemed the favourite topics to tackle.

Miscellaneous topics

  • Monthly planning and reflection meetings. First Saturday of every month 10 – 12 Noon at the Mansions of the Future.
  • Time and space to reflect on power relations. Conflict resolution, power & privilege, group dynamics, management within groups. (Seeds for change).
  • SSC into the city, negotiating space e.g. Framework, Prisons.
  • Common activity (Task). A task defines the group and determines the number of people, not explicitly co-operative.
  • Reciprocal ways of learning and producing knowledge.
  • The common group vision is a precarious thing.
  • Why are there no minority groups within the SSC?
  • Dealing with individual conduct procedure [Parked].
  • Longer monthly sessions [Parked].



  • Power & Privilege (Language alienating).
  • Inequality.
  • Permaculture.
  • Sustainable communities/Post-capitalism.
  • Activism.
  • Eco Anarchy (Bookchin, Kropotkin).
  • Feminist post-capitalist living/FUCK TINA.

The idea of the SSC providing an educational service was viewed as too draining. The possibility of one-off service chunks (collaborative lectures?) was discussed e.g. Action Research.

Sunday morning musings

Reservoir of muscle pools. Multimodal – sight, sound, smell and taste.

Binding people in knowledge and experience.

Co-operation gym.

Co-presentation of learning sessions.

Education despite topic. Pro-sociality, learning to co-operate.

How big are the cracks in capitalism (Holloway)?

Post-capitalist imagination – practical activism.


Course outline – Communities of the Future.

Thinking post-capitalism within the capitalist logic.

Six sessions. Sign up for the course by a certain date. Special requirements catered for.

Bradley – Ownership/Commons.

David – Co-operative Lincoln past, present and future.

Laura – Feminist approaches.

Sarah – Women and the commons/Ownership.

Lucy – Permaculture.

Phil – Eco-Anarchism.

SSC 7th Annual General Meeting 26th May 2018



Bradley, David, Fen, Gerard, Laura S., Laura W., Lucy, Mike, Peaceful, Phil, Sarah


There were 11 people present, which was a quorum of the 20 presently signed up as members.


Chair: Laura S. (David offered to co-chair if Merry comes and needs to be looked after)


Introductions and purpose of meeting


During the last year, the running of the SSC has dwindled to a few people and has not been focused on collaborative learning or consensus decision-making. The actual teaching has been done by lots of different people who have come and gone. We have had a series of conversations over the past four months about whether the SSC should be closed or its operation can be taken over by enough people with enough energy to keep it going. One purpose of this meeting was to collectively make this decision.


Our options were:


  • to close the SSC;


  • to keep the SSC open as a ‘space-holder’ for possibility; or


  • to continue running the SSC in a way that is consistent with commitments to co-operative pedagogy, organisation and process.


Reading of the constitution


As required of an Annual General Meeting, we read the constitution out loud in turns and discussed various points raised, including whether this approach to reviewing the constitution is necessary and most appropriate. We clarified the process of and options for ‘consensus decision-making’ and passing resolutions for the purposes of this meeting. Key issues raised included:


  • ACTION: In the future, we should review the constitution in a way that is accessible for everyone, as reading out loud in turns is not. We agreed to read the constitution out loud at this meeting by consensus with dissent but no blocks.


  • Are what we call ‘planning meetings’ in fact ‘general meetings’ according to the constitution? If the SSC continues, we will need to call at least three of them ‘general meetings’ and assure there is quoracy. If quorum is not met at a meeting within half an hour of a meeting starting, the constitution (#29) says the chair has to adjourn the meeting. However, in the past we have instead deferred major decision-making during these times and emailed the membership to ask them to participate in decision-making on that issue within a certain time frame (usually two weeks).


  • ACTION: under the new General Data Protection Regulations, enforced from 25 May 2018, we need to review our data storage and protection policy and send a new email out to members with a privacy policy. We have already done the first task by asking people to ‘opt-in’ to membership if they wanted to remain members, and have deleted the details of all other individuals.


  • ACTION: We also need to change the constitution to reflect the new regulations (Registers #51a/b). Lucy will propose a resolution to this effect at the business meeting.


  • ACTION: We agreed to change the personal pronouns in the constitution from ‘s/he’ to ‘they/them’.


Financial headlines (pre-business meeting)


Laura S. will stand down as Treasurer at this meeting.


The SSC has been running at a loss for three years – not under budget, but contributions have been gradually decreasing and our spending depletes the balance. If we do not increase our income, we will no longer be able to operate or contribute to local and activist services. Current expenditures include:


  • indemnity insurance (annual)
  • Cooperative membership (annual)
  • Mayfirst email and website facilities (annual)
  • community room hire (monthly)


Suggestions for how to respond to this financial situation:


  • increase membership contributions to cover the costs
  • decrease our expenses
  • close the Mayfirst website and email service and use a free platform intsead
  • change the legal structure of the group from a co-operative to another form


‘Open Space’ discussions


Co-operatives – what organisational form should the SSC take from this point if any, and how ‘co-operative’ should it be?


Everyone at this table thought that the SSC should continue, in its legal form, as a co-operative because:


  • the co-operative principles and values are important
  • of do-it-yourself approach to co-operative organisation
  • of the pro-sociality necessary for and created by co-operativism
  • unlike for charities, there is no curtailment on political position or activity
  • co-operative education in the SSC has helped some people facilitate co-operation elsewhere




  • need to connect and work more with other co-operatives, particularly HE co-ops
  • need to make more explicit that the work of the organisation is everyone’s responsibility
  • need to look more into the benefits of Co-operative membership
  • need to reduce costs (e.g., speakers who can pay their own expenses should contribute)


Courses – how should courses be offered in the future, if they are?


  • There was interest in keeping learning opportunities alive.


  • There was a discussion about the purposes of courses, and whether they should be considered ‘higher education’; the discussion focused on the underpinning principles of the curriculum, including that it should focus on research and projects, and promoting open-mindedness.




  • To offer shorter, theme or project-based courses (8–12 weeks, or shorter) that are collaboratively constructed and run – as have done in the past, as well as in new forms.


  • Running a longer course could help to sustain wider engagement and participation.


Roles – what formal roles, if any, should there be in the SSC?


  • What roles are absolutely needed to keep the SSC running in a positive way? It was suggested that, once decided, these should be written into the constitution. They should be collaborative and those holding roles at any time should be supported by other members and able to bring issues to the collective for questions and discussion. Suggested roles included:


  • treasurer + assistant treasurer
  • secretary + assistant
  • engagement and membership
  • publicity and website




Notes from AGM business meeting Saturday 26th May 2018.

Attending: Lucy, Sarah, Phil, Fen, Mike, Bradley, Laura, David, Laura, Gerard, Martha, Peaceful Warrior

Apologies: Joss

  • Welcome, introductions, members present elect chairperson.

Martha had joined us for lunch and the business part of the AGM so she introduced herself as there were some new members, everyone else had been previously introduced. We elected Laura Stratford as chairperson for the meeting.

  • Confirm minutes from 2017 AGM

Minutes were approved.

  • Matters arising from minutes of 2017 AGM

We reviewed the actions from this meeting.

Actions complete: Laura did change the cheque signatories and added herself and Lucy McGinty.

Actions not complete: Mike did not give Laura figures on what he had been contributing to so that it could be reported on.

Mike did not find information on the secretary role for the planning meeting following the AGM.

Bradley did not create a googledoc where we could list ideas we were interested in.

  • Vote about whether members wanted the SSC to stay open or close: At this stage there were 3 members who gave consent to close and one member who blocked the decision to close.

Discussion amongst members about why they did or did not want to continue the SSC if they wanted to contribute to the discussion.

David – felt the SSC was an important open space to support other projects.  It is important for those members who don’t actively attend weekly or monthly to help them think about how co-op Ed can work.  David would like to become more actively involved to ensure the SSC continues.

Gerard – believes the SSC is an important space and would like to see it continue.

Sarah – would not like the SSC to just stay open as a good idea but needs to be open for a purpose as a great cost is being born by just a few members.

There was a general feeling that people ought to commit to more mundane roles of running the SSC so the responsibility was spread amongst more members and not just a few.

Laura S – the SSC can’t continue in the manner it has been as it is too much for a few core people.

Sarah – the SSC needs more radical energy to sustain it.

Bradley – also believes the SSC shouldn’t just continue because we like the idea of it.  The last two years of the SSC had been run by a very small core number of people.

  • Election of officers

It was agreed amongst members in order for the SSC to continue there had to be more roles filled by more members.  It was agreed the SSC would continue until at least November and then we would have a review.

Secretary & Co secretary: Laura Stratford & Bradley Allsop

Treasurer & Co treasurer: Lucy McGinty & David McAleavey

Publicity & website: Laura W & Phil

Engagement & membership: Peaceful & Fen

  • Finances

Lucy and Laura S shared the financial report with members.  There was a discussion about overheads and whether any could be reduced.  We shall stop our contributions to Mayfirst for the website and email facility and try to move everything over to free WordPress.  Mayfirst are a radical tech group so it was suggested when we have more contributions coming in we should look at funding them again.  Discussion about room hire and David suggested we might like to consider Mansions of the Future as it is a free space.  It is a collaborative arts space and the cooperative are one of its funders.  David has said in principle they have agreed.  Finances are depleting so we can’t keep spending at the rate we are as there aren’t enough member contributions.  Lucy and Peaceful will re-start their contributions.

Action: David to look into Mansions of the Future as a venue a little more.

Action: Laura W and Phil to arrange to meet with Joss as he has knowledge of the website and email facility.

Action: Laura S to forward all finance emails with contacts on to the two new treasurers.

Action: Laura S, Lucy and David to meet to handover finances.

Action: Laura S to talk to Mayfirst about suspending account to reopen in future.

Action: New treasurers to close down Paypal and ask the two members who donate through Paypal if they want to continue to contribute can they do it through the bank account.


  • Review of the constitution

Proposal to change pronouns from she/he to them/they.  This proposal was accepted.  Proposal to change 51a) about member date we hold from name and address to name and email address.  Proposal was accepted.  Proposal to change section 14b) management committee to members at general meeting was accepted.  Proposal to change section 27) management committee to elected officers.

Action: Bradley to re-write constitution with proposed changes in

Action: Bradley and Laura S to make a google poll for days and times for sessions as some members had expressed Tuesday evenings weren’t convenient.

Action: Engagement and membership officers (Peaceful & Fenn) to check GDPR and ensure we are compliant.  We also need to delete the 50 members who didn’t respond to opt in to membership with the SSC as they are no longer considered members and we need to comply with data protection.


Phil – announced his and Fenn’s engagement.  They will be having a commitment ceremony on 21st June.