• Degrowth and Decolonisation in Scotland Podcast interviews

Degrowth and Decolonisation in Scotland Podcast interviews   Nico speaks with Lauren Pyott founder and managing director of Clachworks social enterprise in Inverness and Mat Baker has been a full time public artist for over 25 years  he has focused on a long term activist  strategies for  integrating creative practice into social economics and political structures of his home region in South Scotland 

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Mhm. Hello, everyone Is Nicola Indeed. Growth in Scotland Podcast Episode four Yes, this is the episode fourth, and it's really exciting and a special guest here. You're going to hear me talking to Lauren Peyote and Mark Becker on this episode

Four. It's brought to you by enough Scottish Deep Growth Network, a network for everyone in Scotland who's interested or doing work in D growth and decolonisation. Yes, exciting

So, yeah, let's go straight to the first guest and please introduce yourself and tell us where you are and what you do. We go. It's a pleasure to be here

So my name is Lauren Pyatt, and I am based in Inverness, where I grew up. As a teenager, I actually spent the first half of my life living in different parts of the world in Ghana, Palestine and Cambodia. So I have a kind of insider outside feeling of being a Scottish person in the highlands

Um, and and you know, I quite enjoy that. That that place I have of understanding that there's different ways of doing things in the world, Um, and not being fully Scottish but also being privileged to live in this this beautiful part of the highlands. Um, so, yeah, I'm back here now, in Inverness, having moved away for a number of years, like many people do in the highlands

And my background is in academia. I used to do some teaching and research and down in London, and I also previously worked in the publishing industry. I used to organise festivals and events across the Middle East in Scotland, and now I'm in Inverness

And I am, uh, setting up a social enterprise here in Inverness. Okay, great. Intraday, Lauren, thank you so much again for coming to the podcast in the growth in Scotland

I've got three questions for you in this episode, so I'm going to go straight to question number one. How would you explain or describe the growth or decolonisation? There are so many different ways that you can describe the growth. There's there's a huge amount of thought and debate and research that's gone into it

I guess in really simple terms, I would see it as a system which prioritises social and ecological well being over corporate profits. So, obviously, under our current capitalist system, corporate profit is the kind of the deciding factor I guess in theory, that would mean a reduction in the material size of the global economy, so kind of reducing our global economy and having a redistribution of the resources that we do have. Um, that's done in line with social justice and environmental justice

But that all sounds quite complicated, I suppose. In practise, I see that as meaning that we need to use less stuff. And this could be done according to the principle of the Commons

So the principle of the Commons is something that someone called Eleanor Ostrom has written about quite a lot. And in practise, this means things like sharing instead of owning them yourself, borrowing things instead of buying them yourself and using things instead of consuming them. Um, so that's that's one way I would kind of describe the growth in, in a practical sense

Okay, great explanation. Their their explanation that before I move on to question number two, can you tell me a little bit about social enterprise because it sounds exciting? And I'm sure all the lots of listeners they want to hear a little bit about that before we move on to question number two. Sure, I mean, so this is kind of something that our social enterprise is doing in practise

And so we're classic works is a social enterprise that is starting a tool library. Um, and so the idea of a tool library is that we, um we all have too many things and that we don't always use them. So, for example, there's there's a common statistic that's used that says that the average power drill that you use in your house is only used for 13 minutes in its entire lifetime, which, if you think about you know how many resources it takes to create the power drill, all the packaging, the shipping of the power drill and then, of course, someone buying the power drill, which is often quite an expensive tool

It's a really terrible use of the Earth's resources if it's just sitting taking up space in someone's house, and actually our social enterprise class works and we did a survey and we found that in Inverness, 73% of the people that we surveyed had tools in the house that they didn't use throughout the year. But at the same time, 54% needed tools that they didn't own throughout the year. So it's obvious that if everyone that the answer is not for everyone to buy more tools and have more things, but that instead we could be sharing them and using them when we need them

So there's actually the founder of the Brisbane to a library in Australia. Her name is Sabrina Shakuri, and she she puts it in a really good way for me. So she says, we need to make sure that the market isn't dictating and telling us what we need and instead think about what we need and our relationship with things differently

So she says, You can put it this way instead of saying I need a power drill, maybe you could say I need a hole in the wall. How do I make the hole in the wall? And so by this way we can think about our relationship with the things we need and the things that we are using in a different way. And yeah, instead of having to buy it and then stories in your house, um, and have another thing that is produced and then thrown away

Instead, we can say, Can I borrow this tool that you have. I need it now. Then I can return it to you

So that's that's one way that I would understand it. Okay, we're gonna move to question number two. I think before we do that, I just realised I just noticed what we're talking

I think we spend more time talking about the growth and we didn't actually look at the conversation, but I was wondering on this second question, if we can actually, you can focus both and both of them. So the question is, how do you put these ideas into practise in your work or community? So are social enterprises called Clark Works. And we are creating a space that's a socially inclusive space for making and remaking in Inverness on the Caledonian Canal

And this will practically speaking, this will include a tool library I've already mentioned, um, it will have also repair services to teach people how to repair and fix things that are broken instead of throwing them away. It will also include a an open access workshop space so that people can come in and make things and learn how to make things instead of buying them um it will have a community garden and also a cafe. So quite an ambitious plan

And so I've spoken about the tool library will be a space that people can borrow a bit like a book library. But instead of books, it would have tools instead. So if you need that that drill for making the hole in the world, you can come and borrow it and then return it for other users

And and so we're really hoping to find ways for people to be able to buy and consume and then throw away less things. Um, and so part of it, as I said, is providing the opportunity for people to borrow tools but also learning how to fix them when they're when they're broken. And it's really about forging the connections between people as well

So So we think that you know, there's obviously a lot of benefits that can come from Kraft and for making things yourselves, and and people know, especially after the pandemic, that it's, you know, good for your mental health and your health. But there is not always accessible to everyone. As I said, tools are often expensive or they take up a lot of space to have them in your house, but also a lot of the skills and the knowledge that people need to make the things themselves people don't have

So it's about learning from each other and providing the kind of the mechanisms and the spaces for people to be able to learn from each other, um, and share their resources and their their skills and knowledge. Yeah, I like that. I want to go back

I like, Warren said. People got tools in their houses and never realised they don't use them. Like I think a lot of people be really surprised learning like me

I'm learning here like I'm getting a little bit better because every time there's a tool like, uh, you know, exactly, I'm the same. I'm completely the same, and I think it's also we don't have enough space in our houses, and so I think it becomes difficult to store them as well. So you have a ways of raising

I want to encourage people to use tools as much as they can. Yeah, well, so this is another part is that we're wanting to have workshops and classes because you know there's there's in in the u. K

There's been this men's shed movement, which has been very popular, so it's mainly working with older men. Um, this is a kind of typical stereotype, but it's often with older men who maybe have been bereaved or feeling lonely and isolated. And so they use craft and D I y to forge community and and and look after each other

But we realise it's not just men who have that desire to work with things. And actually, when we did our survey, we found 73% over 70% of the people who engaged with our survey were women. And I think part

So I'm, you know, as someone who identifies as female, and I am not professionally trained. But I love working. I'm a crafter

I make things myself, and I noticed when I walk into spaces like into a D I y shop, there's a you know, a sense that I don't know what I'm doing and that I shouldn't really maybe shouldn't be there or, you know, people kind of very patronising to me as a woman, and and I think there's a lot of people like myself who maybe aren't given the confidence to do that. And we found that in the construction industry, um, that actually women make up only 12.5% of the entire workforce in the construction industry and when it comes to the manual trades, so like working with your hands on site, the kind of really skilled labour they only make up 3% of that workforce

And and people from minority ethnic backgrounds only make up 5%. So especially in the Highlands. If you consider that the construction industry is one of the largest employers in the region, actually, it ends up being a bit of a gender and a racial pay gap

So what we're wanting to do with classic works is to to try and understand what the institutional barriers are. Two people participating in craft and D I y both as a hobbyist or in a professional sense, and try and do things to try and make it easier for people to access them. So one of the things we're doing apart from holding and women's only and queer friendly workshops

So it's a space that people feel a bit more comfortable learning new things, but we're also looking at some of the other barriers that people have to getting jobs in the construction industry. So, for example, a lot of people when they start their first job as a joiner or in some form, working in the construction industry, they need to provide their own tools. So we're hoping to start, and they often can't afford to buy those tools before their first paycheck

So we're hoping to provide. Some start their tool kits for people who want a new job in the construction industry but can't afford the tools that they need. So there's, you know, there's a huge amount of different barriers that people face in this industry that we're trying to overcome in some way

I mean again, it's about understanding our yeah, our relationship with things. I mean, it's not just about materialism and for me, d growth. It's also about understanding the system in which things are created

Um, so for me, something I didn't say at the beginning is that for me, D Growth also needs to be de colonial for it to make any sense, and it has to have a sense of justice at its heart and so I don't know if you want me to speak a bit about how I understand it to be de Colonial. So So for me, um, de Growth is a really important concept, but it only makes sense for me if we also think about it in a d colonial lens as well. So, uh, d colonial itty is maybe less well known than decolonisation and anti colonial isation

So in my mind, I understand the difference between them as anti colonialism is kind of working to resist the institutions, the kind of historical and the political institutions that created colonial oppression, whereas de colonial itty is focused more on the kind of cultural and the psychological processes of colonial oppression. So, for example, there's I'm sure you know him there or know of him. The Kenyan novelist interview Ottaviano

He talks about this in terms of de colonising our minds, um and so that we've learned ways of behaviour that are within a colonial mindset. So there's a There's quite a lot of theory that comes behind this. And there's a school in Latin America that have written quite a lot about the colonial And what what those processes look like And there's a particular term that is used that I really like, which is called epistemological

I'd So it sounds like it's some kind of drug or, you know, weed killer or something. But it's basically, um, the the loss of knowledge. So Episode Epistemology is being knowledge systems and that there's a purposeful erasure of those knowledge systems

So it's not just that we've kind of forgotten them by chance, but the Colonial project is purposely trying to erase that knowledge. So one way we could look at it from a local context within Scotland. Um, is you know, we've all heard the word up

Cycling is used a lot in in the U. K. At the moment, and it's becoming very popular, But it's in my mind

It's not a new concept, you know. It's something that has always been done across the world, but also within Scotland. So if you look at the crafting community, um, they they would have a different way of viewing things, so things were not commodities, but they were resources which were often quite scarce, and so they were very precious

And so you would you would always want to fix and reuse something because it was it had a lot of value to you. Um, but then capitalism kind of change, that that process of fixing things and our relationship with things So instead of, um, so crafters worked incredibly hard. Do they still do? And so, um, their value of an object came from the, um from the processes of creating it

But instead you would have the market value of of labour, which, um, uh, yeah, it was about seeing things as commodities instead. Um, there's also other ways that that that relates to other parts of the world where, um when settler colonialists arrived in a lot of states, the they would kind of trick indigenous cultures into giving away title deeds to the land. Because most people around the world understand that you can't own land in your hand

You know, it's not something that can be kind of owned in that way by any one person. Um And so, by having that different understanding of our relationship with the land, huge amounts of colonial kind of take over what was made possible. Okay, we'll move into the last question now and the last question is there is a phrase

If it's not just it's not D growth. What that means to you. This is really the heart of it

This is the big question for me. So for me, there's a lot of different terms and and different movements that are coming out now in the wake of an understanding of climate, the climate emergency. So we have things like the circular economy

We have things like just transition, and there is now more of an awareness. But for me, why de growth is important is that social justice has to be at the heart of any form of environmental justice. So you can understand that social justice on lots of different levels

On the one hand, you can understand it in terms of global justice, so understanding and the way in which our colonial legacies have shaped the world today and how they that's affecting the global injustice we have inherited, but also how climate the climate emergency is being felt differently in different parts of the world and also our responses to it. So think about things like the carbon credits that very much can favour and yeah, more affluent societies to kind of exploit other other parts of the world or thinking about the ways in which forestation is Uprooting indigenous lives and just to try and have some carbon offsetting for one large corporation. But you can also think about it in terms of economic justice

And I think we need to be really careful that with all of our attempts at having different, less kind of carbon heavy ways of living in the world, that we're not allowing the big corporations to take the credit for it and that we're not allowing greenwashing and kind of a corporate takeover of that very genuine efforts to, you know, have a different way of living in the world. So, for example, the circular economy is a term that's being used a huge amount by by a lot of different people. In Scotland, for example, we now have our first minister for the circular economy

So the Scottish Greens MSP Lauren Slater is the first circular economy minister and that's fantastic and it is really about a lot of the things that the growth is saying in terms of kind of using things differently and trying to create less waste However, it's a term that's very easy to be kind of taken over by other corporations. So, for example, the kind of the think tank of the kind of leading authority on the circular economy is an organisation called the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, and they give some really good examples of what the circular economy looks like. However, the kind of top example they give is for the Renault car company plant

And so they're saying, Isn't it great because they're remanufacturing certain parts of their car and processing plant? So of course, that's great that they're not using new raw materials and they're managing to re process it. But at the same time, it doesn't feel right to me that a car company that is so responsible for polluting the planet and you know, has such a share of our economy. They get the credit and the glory for this environmental and, you know, transition

Um, so I think we need to be really careful that we don't let that happen more. And for me, D growth, with its emphasis on social justice, is an important way of that happening and that the last aspect of social justice that I would like to say is is about thinking about class justice and that we have to have a kind of material structured understanding of what that looks like. So that would be things like working with trade unions, making sure that it's the workers who are able to partly define and contribute to what that looks like

But it's a two way process because I think the trade unions themselves also need to have a bit of de growth thinking in their practise as well. So making sure that, um, there, you know, So at the moment there are trade unions like the G. M B

I'm in some ways are supporting arms trade and the fossil fuel industry because they want to protect workers' jobs. So it needs to be a two way process to make sure that, um, labour rights are being protected. But at the same time, they're protecting the environment

Okay. Thank you, Laura. And that's a great explanation there about D growth and decolonisation in Scotland

So, as I said from the beginning, I'm gonna have to get so I'm gonna move to my second guessed right now straight in, and please introduce yourself and tell us where you are. And what do you do? Um, my name is Matt Baker, and I am one of the founders of an organisation in Dumfries called the Stove Network, Where a group we started by a group of artists who wanted to make a difference in our community. We saw some issues in our town, and we wanted to be part of making some change

And that was 10 years ago. And 10, 10 years down the line. We we are now

We are now providing employment for 41 people in our community and local people from our community and were involved in a number of partnership projects around place, making in terms of improving things for communities and communities being part of shaping the way that they change themselves. Okay, I'm just gonna say, Welcome again, Mark. I'm gonna be asking three questions on this episode, so, yes, I think we're gonna go straight

Let's go straight with question number One question number one is how would you describe or explain the growth and decolonisation to the people listening on the partners? And I want to actually want to start with, like why I think I want and I want to start with, actually want to start with stories and the way that we understand ourselves because I come from a come from a cultural background. So to me, stories are everything is the way that we understand the world. So somehow we have come to understand our world through through economics, you know, the kind of big, grown up story of what is important and what is common sense and what? How the you know what underpins the world, what we need to make countries work and for everybody to be safe

Um, and we've we've we've kind of adopted this idea that our for our economy to work, it needs to keep growing. Because if we have growth, we have progress. And if we're progress, we're making enough money, and we make enough profit, and we can all share that profit

We're going to be OK. That is the way that I understand the story that we are told, you know? And if we if we start if we unpick that story a little bit, then, um you know, we go hold on. If you go back to the beginnings of what economics was

Why do we have economics? You know? And if you go back to Adam Smith was one of, you know, writing in Scotland and 18th century about the wealth of nations, the beginnings of economics. It wasn't just talking about money. He was talking to the wealth of nations included our culture

Included are people included everything. And somehow we've moved away from that holistic understanding of, uh, of of wealth as being community wealth. And we've got this

We've focused on money, and we've focused on profit and on making a profit. You know, um and but, you know, I'm picked that a little bit further. What? What? Actually, what's profit? You know, uh, it's based

There you go. Like you grow enough food to eat, and if you grow a little bit more than you need, then you sell it, and then you use that money to buy things. You know, um, but the things that you don't you don't have time to make because you're growing food, but that if that in that growth model, that cycle becomes everything and it starts to unbalance everything

When when profit becomes king like that and everything becomes directed to be making that excess rather than what you need. And I think we need to start looking back like what we need rather than constantly thinking about excess. Because if you want to make profit, you need to push something to make profit, whether you're pushing people about their wages or you're pushing the resources in the land and you're taking more and more from the land

And then you get into the decolonisation bit where you think where we need to go somewhere else because we've used up the resources here. Or we need to find more reasons to find more ways of making profit. And this becomes the story becomes the story that you need to have progress in order to, for people to be safe and for people to survive

But, you know, it's all you know that that that idea that you just make enough money and it will look after everybody and that is that is the fairy story that we all get told, because in order to make that money, somebody basically has to suffer. Somebody has to be on the wrong side of that equation, and what actually happens is you end up with lots of you end up with smaller and smaller amounts of people with an awful lot of money and more and more people with no money. And that is what we need to

That is what we need to change. So for me, the D growth thing is it comes back to the stories. It comes back to a story of like, we need to start telling a different story

We need to We need to undercut that growth, profit exploitation story. And we need to start telling stories about sustainability and about about, uh, substance sustainable living in the same way that that cultures the indigenous cultures that some of that colonisation worked on, they weren't interested in profit and growth. They were interested in just living

And what this one is we've, we've we've lost, we've lost that. And so the D growth thing is about strategies for for sustainable, for sustainable living, which is not about progress, not about exploitation. Yes, the more I listened to mark here, listen to your mind

I can hear you talk more about your work and community as well, which is very interesting, because the second question is also going to be looking at Yeah, incited to work and in the community side as well. So before remember, we just go straight to the second question so we can actually take us through to your focusing at your work and your community as well. So I think this question will actually help us to actually, Yeah, talk more about that

So Okay, the question is, how do you put these ideas into practise in your work or in the community? Um, in these terms, because it's really nice to be thinking about it in those big in those more global terms because so I mean, 10 years ago, the idea, the idea that we had was was to just dig where we stand with Alastair McIntosh would say to be to be in our place and try and make make something good happen in our place. And then maybe somebody, um uh over the next Glenn would be making something else, making something good happen over there, and they would join up. So that was that was our sort of de growth thing of like let's let's make our place special and then join up with next door is another special place, and then the next one and the next one

But the so they. But from the from the cultural, the cultural point of view, Um, what what we're what we're really trying to do is to involve people in creating their own culture the way, um the way that the model that we have inherited about how we do how we do culture in Scotland is a long sort of story. How that's how that's come about

But effectively, we We have a model where we pay professional people to make culture, and then everybody else consumes that culture. And then we have sort of education programmes to help us understand it better and all the rest of it. But, um, and I think the role that culture can play in, you know, I think it's one of the things that as a D growth method for Scotland, we're We are a very, very cultural people

We we tell stories. We do Caylee's. It's part of how we how we understand ourselves and how we live

Um, but we we separate that from the idea of culture. Culture is something that clever culture people do, and not what everybody does, so we need to. But But what? What that culture can do for us, that participating in that culture, making our own culture, um, can also be a big part in that inequality conversation in terms of health outcomes for people

You know, we you know that that profit motive we're talking about it works very well for the drug companies to have 20% of our population on chronically taking antidepressants. Take people. Could you know, those therapies the way we could? We could be

People could be feeling much better about themselves by having more confidence, being more part of their community and work and, uh, feeling part of things, feeling like they've got a stake in things and feeling like they're being listened to. And that's one of the things that culture culture can really do. Um, in the same same in education, we can be some of the inequalities that we have in education

Kids learn in different ways. Adults learn in different ways. We should be thinking about lifelong education

Um, so what? What we're putting forward really is a sort of radical view that the culture should be about participation It should not be about consuming something that other people have made. But it should be about making ourselves and that that to us is a is a localism agenda as well, because one of the outputs that you get from that participation in culture is that you get you grow. You grow new ideas, you grow new businesses, potential new social enterprises

You grow. You grow environmental projects because people come together and they go, Oh, we got involved in that thing. We started talking

Well, what about that building over there? Maybe we should do something about that, you know, And then and that turns into the new idea. And then that turns into a group. And then that group may be gather some money together, make something happen, create some jobs for some other people

So the culture thing, it works on a number of different levels. But all the time that we're talking about, we're talking about this community wealth building idea, and it's localism idea of not thinking like How can we make the maximum amount of money for this? And like, let's let's exploit the natural resources that we've got here. Let's create huge tourism business and get the million people here because we just then become part of the problem again

Somebody else starts to lose out because of that. And this is this is about growing something at a local level which is taking carrying everybody up with it rather than creating inequalities by making profit, which means that somebody is losing out. Okay, great experience here

I'm learning as well as we go on this D growth in Scotland. Podcast around? Yes. Fantastic

Fantastic. Um, I guess, because so far, we're doing great. So anyway, I'm gonna go straight to question number three

Um, there's a phrase if it's not just it's not the growth. What that means to you, just Yeah, well, I think that I mean, that just just means fairness to me. And that's that's what I think I hope we've been talking about Is that ultimately there is that sense that nobody nobody is losing out

Nobody's gaining at the expense of other people. And that's what I'm That's what I mean by justice. That's what I mean by fairness

And that even though I've been talking about a very local agenda, which in some sense maybe means like Okay, we're not really thinking about the Big World. I think we are thinking you know, that thing about at local think global because that the impact of of thinking and working in that way is an attitude. It's an attitude that says we're all part of the same

We're all part of the same planet we're all facing and allows you to connect to connect people around the world with through those basic values, because you're not hiding something you're not saying. Well, actually, we know we're taking you guys for a right down the line. You're actually going to We're on our land during our thing in our way and we're so are you and let's do it together

I mean, I think you know the vaccine thing in the, um you know, in the covid is just such a clear example of how how wrong it's like the world gave us an opportunity to do the right thing of like right here is a totally global problem that is affecting people in the same way everybody is getting sick in the same way with just human beings, and it couldn't be more equal. And yet we've managed to turn that. You know, there was an opportunity there to do the right thing

Let's create create a vaccine. Let's make sure that everybody gets the vaccine and instead we've gone into these bubbles of like, right, Well, we've We've got loads of vaccine, so we're going to be all right. But then the world, you know, the world we know that the people who haven't got the vaccine are going to carry on creating new

They're going to keep getting sick. They can keep dying. They're going to create new variants which are then going to mess up the vaccine

It's like it's stupid. It's absolutely crazy that we're not that that's the opposite of the justice. I think so

We should have been thinking we should have all been in that time that we were all in our own places and thinking locally while we were in lockdown, we should have been also thinking, thinking globally and reaching out and using that time to connect and build new new understanding and pathways. It's such a such a shame. So yeah, the justice I agree there is with with no with no justice, you have no D growth, No question to me

Oh, thank you so much. Both. What a great chart there about the growth decolonisation in Scotland

Yes, this podcast is exploring D growth and decolonisation in Scotland. So tune in. Tune in for the next episode

The Fifth Episode episode. I will be talking to Fiona Morrison and Thomas Fishel. They are both founding directors of Kordell and Exciting News

On the 31st of March, we will be hosting a gathering English. This gathering is open to anyone is open to anyone who's Charlie. Anyone challenging our economic system in big or small waves, check out enough dot Scott


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