Preston model

Cllr Matthew Brown on the Preston Model and the Economics of the Imagination

By Rob Hopkins, Rob Hopkins blog

The scholar Richard Sennett once wrote, “modern capitalism works by colonizing people’s imagination of what is possible”. If it is the case that our current economic model thrives by creating the conditions that suppress rather than unleash the imagination, and if we recognise that now, more than any other time, we need a mass re-nourishing of the collective imagination, then where might we spot examples of ‘the economics of the imagination’? Eight years ago, the economy of Preston was crocked. Then its Council decided to take a new approach. Today I’m speaking to Cllr Matthew Brown, the recently-elected leader of Preston City Council. What Preston have achieved should be a model for everywhere else. “Let’s have a bit of imagination about how to get out of this mess” he tells me. I last interviewed him in June 2015, so I started by asking him, when we spoke just before Christmas, what has...

El Cua Nicaragua

El Cuá, Nicaragua: Community-Owned Hydropower Transforms Rural Economy

By Transformative Cities Staff, Transformative Cities

Residents of the northern highlands of Nicaragua were typically overlooked by modern infrastructure development. The Association of Rural Development Workers has changed this, securing access to electricity and clean drinking water for local people for the first time. Today the association is also generating enough profits from hydro power to fund US$300,000-worth of development in the region. The Association of Rural Development Workers was founded when American engineer Benjamin Linder moved to Nicaragua in 1985 to help communities construct the first hydro project in the San Jose de Bocay region. Benjamin’s murder by Contra rebels sparked an uprising both locally and internationally, leading not only to the setting up of the association but also a renewed focus on development in the region. Lifting of the electricity grid posts The association has had great success in mobilizing residents within the region, including women, to participate in and take ownership of projects....