Inequality fund, Cambridge pound, car free day: imagine2027 forum debates how to transform city

What would you propose to transform Cambridge for the better? How can we pool our collective energy to have the most impact? What can we learn from the speakers at imagine2027 to make the city fairer and more equal?

We hosted an incredible Forum on Action at the last talk in the imagine2027 series showcasing a wide range of creative ways we can tackle inequality.

Project champions or ‘genies’ were given two minutes to describe what there idea was and how it would create change. There was then space for clarifications followed by open debate and voting. 

Everyone then had a chance to put their name to the project which they felt they could best contribute to. 

Themes of wealth distribution, education and the environment came to the fore. An inequality fund, an educational tool on the themes of imagine2027 and a car free day for Cambridge were among the ideas with the most votes. A conversations project received the highest number of willing participants.

Here is the list of the projects put forward:

  1. Educational toolkit: Build an educational tool or package for use in Schools – incorporating animations, videos and games to enable children to learn about inequality and its effects.
  2. Cambridge Conversations: Spread the word about inequality in Cambridge through micro-conversations. We are designing a method to engage with groups and individuals to hear their views, and to make more visible to a wider public people’s lived experience of inequality through very short stories or comments. We hope to create a viral ripple where people share information / feelings based on reactions triggered by our discussion. We work through community organisations or individuals around the city. There are 7 volunteers on this project. We meet monthly as well as the conversations. Join us if you like talking with people from all backgrounds, listening to what they have to say and designing ways to challenge people to think differently.
  3. Supersizing Cambridge: We have prepared a 6,000 word document that argues for an “inclusive” approach to championing economic growth (concerned to mitigate the inequalities that growth has caused locally) instead of the rushed exclusive process concerned with hard infrastructure which the Mayor and Greater Cambridge Partnership are promoting. We question the way vital decisions over our future have been passed onto a business oriented oligarchy. We need volunteers with experience in the social media, publishing, campaigning, agitating, etc.
  4. Inequality Fund for Cambridge: Research and implement an “inequality fund” for Cambridge, with voluntary contributions possibly amounting to 1% of our income. The fund would then be used to support specific programmes designed to alleviate inequality, perhaps voted on or at any rate decided by the contributors to the fund, in consultation with people and groups operating at the sharp end of the inequality spectrum. The idea has been tried elsewhere (e.g. Islington).
  5. imagine2027 Compendium: Produce a hard copy summary of the imagine2027 series with cross-references and fronting analysis/foreword. Involves considering target audiences, formats etc., completeing transcript work (as basis), analysing common threads etc, then editing etc, and finally finding a publisher.
  6. The Cambridge Commons Research Group: We have a number of members who have research skills and experience – about 6 people. In Stuart Weir’s experience doing research can be isolating so we suggest they might work in pairs. They could volunteer to work on this or that project, bringing their expertise to bear, say, providing evidence for a group who are organising a protest. There is a great deal of information online about living standards, public services, deprivation, inequality, etc, notably on Cambridgeshire Insight, which we could mine to keep abreast and to publish an annual Fairness Report.
  7. Car Free Day for Cambridge: Carbon Neutral Cambridge (CNC) and The Cambridge Commons have been working on a Car Free Day designed to coincide with a London and national Car Free Day on September 22. There is a steering group led by two young women with academic backgrounds and we have held both internal meetings and others with key policymakers. We have the support of Cambridge MP Daniel Zeichner who has promised all the help he can give and Cambridge’s lead environment councillor, Rosy Moore. Organisations such as Cambridge Cycling Campaign (with 1200 members) are on board as is the Federation of Residents Associations. Talks have been held with primary schools where we have engaged the children in the ideas behind the project. We have collected 800 public signatures and engaged in a radio show discussion with Mayor Palmer with whom we are waiting to meet to discuss this in more detail. But it is not an easy project to realize given the crossover in responsibilities of a range of public bodies and progress is slow but it is still a good campaigning slogan to raise awareness of pollution issues. The time is right!
  8. imagine2027 video: A 3-minute animation that plays well on social media. Summarising key messages from imagine2027 series in a quirky, but engaging format.  
  9. Fair Pay Campaign: Build a coalition of employers setting fair pay ratios and paying the Living Wage perhaps with allowance for the fact that Cambridge is as expensive as London in many respects, with worse public transport options for those forced to live far away from where they work.
  10. Farm to Table: Building network/infrastructure to connect local producers (such as farmers) more directly with local consumers, so reducing distribution overhead and waste, resulting in better prices to producers and strengthening community.
  11. Cambridge Pound: Money is not a neutral medium. Kate Raworth told the imagine2027 audience that money can be designed to serve a range of purposes. For 25 years Cambridge has had a local currency in the CamLETS system. Members exchange goods and services using ‘informal tokens’, called cams, which are created by our very own magic money tree – it’s called trust. This project would encourage consumers to spend their pound on goods and services in and from the city.
  12. Growing the compost: A long term educational project in schools.

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