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.


Over the next two months at the SSC, we’re going to be exploring ideas about what cooperative education is for, and how it works. On May 26th we’ll be having our 7th AGM, where we’ll be making decisions about how we’re moving forward as a community.

Please click on the link to find out more, let us know what sort of role you’d like, or to give us feedback if you’d no longer like to be involved.
Please respond by 26th April.
Join the conversation:
13th March, 7pm Mint Lane – co-operative higher education
27th March, 7m Mint Lane – pedagogy
10th April, 7pm Mint Lane – emergent learnings

Coming up this Tuesday…

Calum Watt – A History of Housing in Lincoln

7pm at Mint Lane Involve Centre

A study on the early history on the City of Lincoln’s pioneering efforts to bring social housing to the masses, the efforts of working people to win for themselves a “home with a bathtub” and the enduring quality of planning and architecture in the early 20th century that stands as an example for modern housing projects today.

Recent events at SSC

Tuesday 30th January

Money, Wealth and a Society of Abundance with Mike Neary

In this talk, based on Karl Marx’s theory of Capital, Mike Neary explored the social life of money and how it has come to establish itself as the predominant social force. A part of this exploration is to reveal its real nature: as capitalist money, through an account of the significance of labour for capitalist society. Mike suggested another from of society where money and labour are not dominant, grounded in the satisfaction of needs and capacities: a society of abundance.



Tuesday 13th February

What is neoliberalism, and why does it matter? with Bradley Allsop

Neoliberalism- we’ve all heard it used, often with contempt, but what does it actually mean? How is it different to that other often-used, rarely-understood word: liberalism? And why does it matter, anyway?

We talked about the neoliberal project, how, from the 70’s onwards, it has radically changed society, economics and politics, with its full-frontal assault on the ideas of collectivism, social solidarity and state provision, what this means for our own lived experiences and what we can do about it. Issues raised included mental health, schools and education, and democracy.

This Tuesday at SSC

The Problems of Economic Growth – Prof Nigel Curry

Free public lecture, Mint Lane Involve Centre, 7pm

Development polices throughout the world have economic growth as their cornerstone. Many benefits are claimed for such growth, but it can be shown that growth is neither a necessary nor sufficient condition for the achievement of these benefits. Economic growth, rather, can be seen to increase inequalities in both income and wealth, reduce collective marginal utilities (which some economists now call ‘happiness’) and have devastating consequences for the environment. Much of this preoccupation with growth can be seen to serve the ends of political power rather than human welfare.

Public Lecture

Tuesday 5th December, 7pm Involve Centre, Mint Lane

Distress in a city: racism, fundamentalism and a psychosocial imagination

Professor Linden West, Canterbury Christ Church University

The lecture draws on my recent book to explore the diverse problems of a post-industrial city – Stoke, where I was born – taken as representative of many similar communities across the Western world (West, 2016). Using auto/biographical narrative research, I have chronicled the diverse stories people tell, in different ethnic communities, including the stories of those attracted to racist organisations and religious fundamentalism, and even to Jihad. There is also widespread resentment among the white working class at the failures and judgementalism of political, economic and cultural elites, which found expression in support for the BNP, EDL, UKIP, and the vote for Brexit.

The rise of racism in white working class communities, and of Islamophobia, is mirrored by pockets of Islamic fundamentalism in predominantly Muslim communities. Processes of social, cultural and intergenerational fragmentation, and the crisis of multiculturalism, connect with rapid economic decline, a malfunctioning representative democracy, an epidemic of mental illness and the decline of public space, all located within a more individualised, social Darwinist culture. To understand these dynamics requires, I suggest, an interdisciplinary psychosocial imagination, reaching back to the Chicago School of Sociology and forward to a more holistic appreciation of the importance of recognition in human well-being, encompassing intimate, psychological and socio-cultural worlds, and drawing on the insights of psychoanalysis and critical theory.
I will also refer to historical as well as contemporary research (West, 2017) to illuminate where resources of hope lie, which includes the past and potential role of universities in building a more democratised, inclusive and cooperative learning culture.

West L (2016) Distress in the city: racism, fundamentalism and democratic education.
London: Trentham
West, L. (2017) Resisting the enormous condescension of posterity: Richard Henry Tawney, Raymond Williams and the long struggle for a democratic education. International Journal of Lifelong Education. Special issue, The Learning Adult. 36, 1 &2, 129-144.

Other references
Honneth, A. (2009) Pathologies of reason: on the legacy of critical theory. New York: Columbia University Press.
Rose, J. (2010) The Intellectual Life of the British Working Classes. 2nd Edn. New York: Yale University Press.

Professor Linden West works at Canterbury Christ Church University, and is a Visiting Professor at the University of Milano-Bicocca. He is the author of many books and articles, derived from auto/biographical narrative enquiry, and using an interdisciplinary psychosocial theoretical framing. The books include Distress in the city: racism, fundamentalism and a democratic education; Doctors on the edge: healing and learning in the inner city; and Beyond Fragments, adults, motivation and higher education, a biographical analysis. He co-authored Using biographical methods in social research with Barbara Merrill and co-edited Psychoanalysis and Education, Minding a Gap, with Alan Bainbridge. He jointly co-ordinates a European Life History and Biography Research Network and is a registered psychoanalytical psychotherapist.

Notes from introductory class: Lincoln and the Built Environment, 17th Oct

Venue: Mint Lane

Present: Laura S, Melanie, Sarah, David,  Laura W, Jade, Merideth, Philip, Rob, Lucy and Mike

Apologies: Bradley

The seminar started with an introduction to the Social Science Centre, including its aims and purposes. We looked at the series of events planned for this term.There was a wide ranging discussion about what people hoped to get out of attending this and other seminars, and what they could contribute to forthcoming sessions.

As the topic for this year is Lincoln and the Built Environment people spoke about their own relationship to the city and its surrounding area, particularly Gainsborough and the St Giles estate, an area of social housing and urban planning based on the Garden Cities movement, inspired by among others Ebenezer Howard. Lincoln was seen as a city with plenty of social and cultural as well as intellectual resources. However, Lincoln has many social and economic problems that were not always apparent or discussed. It was agreed that these social and economic issues were significant and should be considered at forthcoming seminars on the built environment.

Suggestions for contributions to the sessions in the new year are:

The anthropology of violence and war

 Newly formed communities in dystopian places

 Seven Generation Planning

Sustainable environmental planning

 Settler communities, migration and indigenous knowledge