Economic Justice Group
‘Working together and with others for
Economic, Social and Environmental Justice’
This is an important part of our work but the word ‘Sustainability’ has many interpretations, including Social and Environmental issues, both of which we uphold.
We would like to develop this subject within North Wales Area Meeting, as led by Britain Yearly Meeting minutes (minutes 36 in both the 2011 and 2015 Yearly Meetings)
Both of these minutes are full of good Quaker principles and it is difficult to choose any particular paragraphs for inclusion here but maybe…
2011...We ask Area Meetings to consider how truth prospers with regard to sustainability, taking care to relate this to all our testimonies – peace, truth, simplicity, equality and care for the environment.
We encourage local and area meetings to practise speaking truth to power at local level by establishing relationships with all sections of local communities, including politicians, businesses and schools, to encourage positive attitudes to sustainability.
To individual Friends we issue a clear call to action to consider the effect of their lives on the world’s limited resources and in particular on their carbon usage. We ask Friends to keep informed about the work being done locally, centrally and throughout the Quaker world and to educate themselves
2015 ….We ask Friends and meetings to engage with the evil of social and economic injustice which creates a world in which the wrong things are valued. To do this requires owning and upholding the work that is already being done by Friends and in our name; helping to fund that work as generously as possible; and becoming involved in however small a way. For ourselves we need to find some action however simple to do now.
2 Fairness Commission Wales
We have been led by the enthusiasm of Catherine West’s 2017 Swarthmore Lecture promoting her experience of setting up a Fairness Commission, and making a number of ground breaking changes as a former council leader in Islington Borough, including reducing the gap between the lowest and highest earners generally, but specifically in Local Councils.
Following a couple of encouraging meetings with Ynys Mon Assembly Member and Gwynedd local councillor the ongoing strategy may be to concentrate on getting one local council probably Ynys Mon) or Public Service Board (Ynys Mon & Gwynedd) to establish a Fairness Commission and thus become a leading council in this matter.
3 Public Events
It is hoped that we can arrange a public lecture/debate at Bangor University, this Autumn, on the theme of the UK’s departure from the European Union
4 Inequality, Poverty and Destitution
Friends have put a lot of effort into a consultative paper on this matter.
It has ramifications at a National/UK level that would require more resources than this Economic Justice Group could muster, consequently we need to discern the best way forward for this.
The Friend who has been most involved in this subject will continue to work with contacts in other organisations to make improvements and implement change.
5 The North Wales Quakers Economic Justice Group Terms of Reference
A lot of effort has been put into defining our Terms of Reference (TOR).
This has been an essential activity that, once completed, will enable the group to have clarity in our remit.
We feel that the TOR is now ready for sending to our Area Meeting for their consideration.
6 Other Issues
Land Value Tax: An offshoot of the New Economy Study Groups has been a Quaker proposal to campaign for a land value tax. This would require any land owner to pay to the community a ‘rent’ for being allowed to use that land. The ‘rent’ would be higher where permitted development of the land has the potential to earn more financially. Possibly, the core idea is that land is something that cannot be owned by individuals but is a collective good. We are monitoring the campaign.
Credit Union Group: The Quaker Credit Union Group (about to be laid down) has been called on by Friends House to advise ‘Quakers in Business’ about the possibilities of setting up a Quaker Credit Union.
Since an initial meeting of Friends in North Wales was held in June 2015 to discuss the setting up of an economic justice group, the group has successfully established effective ways of working, developed and supported the growth of a number of projects, which are showing tangible progress, and we are now thinking of ‘next steps’.
As a group we meet quarterly, and in the last quarter, our steps forward included:
The credit union group has now launched its national surveys
One of the group gave a talk on co-housing to a diverse group at Bangor University
Productive talks have been held with Britain Yearly Meeting representatives about positive investments and economic justice strategy
A programme of awareness raising and education is now being developed
A ‘profile’ is being developed within our area and further afield.
This edition brings together news of growth of our different projects and the spreading of ideas on a number of themes, which in their own ways focus on contributing to change and reducing inequality. ‘Economic Justice’ is a wide area, including social and environmental as well as economic issues, with close links to the full range of Quaker testimonies. Currently we are focusing on credit unions, community carbon reduction, positive investment, co-housing, mental health and housing. We also considering how we can address ‘poverty’, and how we engage with new poverty strategies for the UK and for Wales.
In addition to the practical aspects of establishing and progressing projects; and developing objectives, priorities and ways of working, we are now thinking more about ‘spreading the word’ on economic justice, awareness raising, improving our links with Quakers within the area meeting and beyond, involving more people (Quakers or others), and about the partnerships with other bodies that we will need.
So at this time there is a focus on: planning events, particularly the visit of Martin Wilkinson of the Equality Trust to give two talks in Wrexham and Bangor on 15th and 16th of March on the ‘Spirit Level’; planning talks to various groups; building networks within our area and beyond; as well, of course, as developing the ‘knowledge base’ of our projects. Above all we are working out how to ‘make a difference’; and to do more practical work with people who need support and those who already support them.
This edition includes a contribution by Wendy Jones about the failure of government and how austerity measures are creating problems. Tony Weekes writes about how and why economic information can be limited or misleading, and how any of us (if we wish), regardless of our knowledge or background, can take steps to understand more. Furthermore, we can (and do) of course form study groups around the ‘New Economy’ booklets currently available, to help us to learn together.
As a group we meet quarterly and exchange ideas frequently. We welcome new ideas and members. Contributions of any sort will be very welcome, including writing for newsletters.