Doughnut Economics

Following the fun, entertaining and successful Doughnut Economics (DE) Workshop on 23rd October (a big THANK YOU to Rob Shorter from the DE Action Lab), Transition Town MK wants to set up a DE Action Group.  

What did we learn?

  • How thin the doughnut (i.e. the safe area between planetary boundaries and meeting social needs) is
  • How much collective knowledge we have about our borough – its challenges and its strengths
  • How we can use that collective knowledge to create a model for our borough
  • How we can quickly come up with ideas on where we want to take this.  

We also learned that we have more technical issues to overcome – so apologies to those on Zoom.  

Proposed next step

Meeting online (Zoom) on 2nd December at 19:30 to discuss the Action Group’s remit and future direction.  
Please email doughnuteconomics@transitiontownmk.org
with a yes or a no or any comments, so that a Zoom link can be sent out.  

Why Doughnut Economics

The Doughnut Economic model, developed by the economist Kate Raworth, has two limits to economic activity – meeting social needs and living within planetary boundaries. Given that many solutions to our ecological crises (greenhouse gases, water scarcity, soil erosion and impoverishment, biodiversity loss, air pollution, etc.) are expensive, we need to ensure that our responses do not create greater social injustice. Whatever plans come out of central government to deal with our crises, the specific issues facing our area also need to be taken into account; we need our own discussions on what sustainability and resilience look like for our borough and how to get there.

Some outcomes from the workshop

We collectively brainstormed the social deficiencies, the areas where planetary boundaries are exceeded, what exists that supports the “doughnut” and blue-skied some no-limits ideas for Milton Keynes (and beyond).  This list is likely to be incomplete given the no-pen, no-paper, no-powerpoint context in which it was developed, but it’s still a good starting point.

Please be kind – this is not the result of long discussion, but the output of an instantaneous brain-storming session

Red unmet social needsRed outside planetary boundariesGreen (within-doughnut-activity that exists in some form in MK)Blue (Wish List)
Inadequate use of green social spacesBorough Includes agriculture;  insure area is taken into accountMK Food BankWhat if education had an environmental perspective
Right of recallFoodCommunity FridgesWhat if farmers grew food like allotment holders
Gender equality/representationAgriculture reimaginedInclusive user-led mental health serviceWhat if we had more effective public transport? It must be reliable and predictable
Walking routesHold rainfall on farmland i.e. where it fallsWellbeing hub developingWhat if … green living tutorials
Public bike chargersCommunity self-build land in all developmentsA MK data hubWhat if we could reduce domestic energy costs and fossil fuel usage
Poor public transportBuilding on agricultural landSmart information (data)The VCS Alliance was an equal partner with powerholders
Easy and safe movementBuilding on flood plainsRefill market storesBuilding regs focussed on energy usage
Need to redefine redways and transportGGG emissions from new builds not taken into accountFood growing gardensTeams trained on external wall on all houses – a blanket over walls
Lack of data to track where we areNew builds prioritise road trafficOlder edge places have been community and social spacesSkills training for energy engineers
Ban time managementNew builds are not energy efficient and are not mandated to beParish focussed open space diversity plantsWhat if every grid square had a healthy cheap food store
PollutionLots of new large warehousesCommunity EducationWhat if regular forums on climate change issues
Share more and buy lessNot enough land just for natureCitizen ScienceWhat if a social contract existed
Noise (from transport) penetrates housing areas Sure Start? 
More refill markets Interfaith Activity 
More recycled/upcycled goods Sharing Economy 
Home retrofit local labour Refugee Support 
Holding politicians to account VOW MK (Women’s participation) 
Education (wider curriculum) MKC White Ribbon 
Gender equality/representation Fawcett MK are measuring % of women councillors 
Mental health Electric Community Boat 
Teaching thinking skills Parks Trust does/do think biodiversity 
Division (separation of concerns) Community Trees MK 
Apolitical community development approach MKC Biodiversity Strategy 
Complex problems need joined up solutions Green Roof 
Status of asylum seekers Green jobs and business 
Diversity Green business awards 
Better bike parking MK Council buying houses to rent 
New (especially low price) homes ALL energy efficient Still Green co-housing 
Affordable housing MK Community Land Trust 
Energy efficiency in homes Community Permaculture 
Socialise energy Community Gardens 
Cost and build technology (homes) Increased availability plant based food 
You cannot just build out of a housing crisis – it’s political choice Redways (need improving) 
The market is wrong – revolution. Car Club 
Poor planning laws against local Pool Cars 
No sewage discharged MK Connect (needs improving) 
Grey waters systems in all new Walk more 
Acting to improve boundaries VCSE alliance 
Sustainable development   
Consultation political voice   
Food poverty is not having a decent store selling healthy food nearby