How We Work

Tools of the Trade

These are complicated, global systems with complicated links between them all. How on earth do we think we’re going to have an impact?

Start local. Work with what we’ve got already (which in Hull, is A LOT). Experiment all the time. And learn from each other. 

The good thing is, we are not starting from scratch and we are not alone! We’re one part of a global movement that is alive and kicking, which started before us and will continue long after we’re gone. We’ve borrowed ideas and tools all the way from Mississippi (Cooperation Jackson) to the Middle East (Rojava) and the East Riding.

Real, Local Democracy

The Hull People’s Assembly

The Hull People’s Assembly will be the first of its kind in the UK! A true alternative to the current political system – this is where we can make decisions on a city scale. 

In the long term, we see The Hull People’s Assembly connected up to People’s Assemblies in other towns and cities across the country, making regional and even national decisions democratically. 

IN PRACTICE: we’ll launch the Hull People’s Assembly when we have 2,000 signatures on the pledge, £10,000 in contributions, and 10 local organisations committed to publicly supporting the assembly. 

Neighbourhood Assemblies

These are People’s Assemblies at the local level – where we can come together, pool our ideas and skills, and make decisions about our own neighbourhoods. If we can connect up Neighbourhood Assemblies across the city, delegates from each one could be sent to the citywide Assembly, ensuring every community gets a say in citywide decisions.

IN PRACTICE: we’ve run Neighbourhood Assemblies in HU1, HU2, HU4, HU5, HU6 and HU7 and by May 2024 we will have finished HU8 and HU9 (the entire area of the Kingston-upon-Hull local authority). We’ve had discussions on a variety of topics like: “what divides us as a society?” “what unites us as a society?” “what are the biggest issues facing our communities and what can we do about them?” “how much faith do you have in the political system?”

We’ve also run three Assemblies in HU3 alone, working with local organisations to deliver practical outcomes. From Feb 2024, we’ll be helping the local community kickstart a weekly evening of food and music, on a pay-as-you-feel basis, using surplus food that would otherwise go to waste. And parents who attended the Assemblies are also exploring the idea of a parents’ collective, helping to share childcare responsibilities in the neighbourhood.

Tech Democracy

New tech is advancing all the time, bringing both huge potential and great risk. If we don’t get a handle on these technologies we know they will be owned and used by corporations, to make them more powerful and more wealthy, at the expense of people and planet. But if we can democratise these technologies – meaning, our communities own, understand and know how to use them – we can not only reduce this risk, but also use these tools to help us restore nature, use energy more efficiently, make decisions together, redesign our neighbourhoods and improve our quality of life.

Local, Independent Media

At the moment, our media is carefully shaped by billionaire press owners and politicians. The people are more powerful when we have the information.

Strong, Caring Communities

Community Teach-Ins

The education system is out of date and no longer serving our children, our teachers or our communities. The problems of the 21st century force us to ask ourselves: what is the real purpose of education? It is not to pass exams. It is to learn the skills we need in order to survive. To learn the skills we want, in order to thrive.

We already have access to everything we need to know; our communities have teachers, mechanics, artists, scientists and everything in between. What we need to create is a new framework to skill-share and learn from each other. 

IN PRACTICE: we’ve facilitated a dozen community teach-ins so far, with more lined up. Local people have told the story of Hull’s headscarf revolutionaries, we’ve been educated on the recent history of conflict and war, and we’ve shared the latest climate science with first-hand accounts from local environmentalists. 

Celebrating Music and Art

The desire to create is part of what makes us human. And making and sharing art has been a core part of every social movement in history. It’s no coincidence that repressive governments choose to repress art in our schools and in our communities – art is revolutionary.

Music and art also help us tell our stories, connect across divides and share our thoughts and feelings. These are all necessary to help us through the times ahead.

Celebrating creativity reminds us that there is joy in being alive – this is why we work.

Neighbourhood Feasts

Eating together is a sure-fire way to build a sense of community; conversations flow over dinner and full bellies make for generous spirits. A regular practice (or new tradition?) of eating our locally-sourced ingredients in a neighbourhood feast will in turn feed our new culture. A culture where kids can tell you how the peas grow, where working mums are able to eat healthy meals, where everyone understands the seasons and respects the work of growing and harvesting, and where celebration is a key part of community life.

A Solidarity Economy

Credit Unions

Taking our money back from banks that are supposedly ‘too big to fail’, pooling our savings in low-interest loans that can help us support each other and invest in our communities.

Cooperatives

There are many different types of coops, but essentially it’s an organisation that is owned and controlled by its members. Instead of a normal business, you have a worker’s coop run by the workers, with decisions made democratically – one member, one vote. You can also have a housing co-op, where a group of people collectively own the house they live in rather than paying rent to a landlord or one person owning a whole house. 

Cooperatives can decide to prioritise what’s good for the community, over what makes the most money for the boss. 

A Cooperative Incubator & Federation

An incubator would identify gaps in communities – for example Marfleet in East Hull is considered the UK’s worst ‘food desert’, with a lack of affordable shops and restaurants. Where there’s a gap, the incubator can help people form new coops to meet the need, e.g a grocery shop or greasy spoon. Where there’s businesses, the incubator can support them to transition to a coop model.

The federation is all about connecting all the coops up into a network, so they can exchange labour and goods, and make decisions together – helping the solidarity economy become a true alternative that people can rely on.

Mutual Aid

In the pandemic we saw mutual aid groups explode all over the country and the world. We went out of our way to help each other, not only because it was the right thing to do, but because it was the most efficient way of getting by. Strengthening this practice of mutual aid is part of developing a new culture, where we recognise and even celebrate the fact that we need each other. What’s good for one is good for all. What hurts one, hurts us all. Mutual aid happens everywhere in our society; they are the often unseen exchanges that make up the bedrock of a solidarity economy.

Local Currencies

New local currencies – such as the Brixton Pound in London or the Bristol Pound – can help keep money and services flowing locally rather than relying on imports and exports. It would encourage small businesses, coops and individuals to trade with each other, strengthening the local solidarity economy.

Community Land Trusts

There are thousands of empty buildings in the UK, thousands of homeless people, and thousands of communities and families wishing they had more space to gather and play after work and school.

Like most things in the failing economy, it just doesn’t add up.

Community Land Trusts are one tool that can help us bring empty buildings and land back into community use, providing physical space for us to hold assemblies, whilst combating the housing crisis. 

IN PRACTICE: In Hull, we are lucky to have the housing organisation Giroscope (link), who started out squatting empty buildings in the ‘80s and now provide affordable homes for over 100 local people in HU3.

A Healthy Earth

There are a whole host of tools we can use to redefine our relationship with the planet, including…

Direct Action

People’s Assemblies

A City Council Made Up of Delegates

Education

Tech Democracy

Growing & Rewilding