What can you expect at the Exchange?

What can you expect at the Exchange?

A guest blog from David Alcock, Head of Social Business at Anthony Collins Solicitors.

The Exchange is one of three new venues Greenbelt is launching this year. What will you find there, and what’s going on?

The Exchange is all about enterprise for the common good – how we can use business and trading to make things better for everyone, not just for a privileged few. We have written more about that here.

Co-operative Energy, The Phone Co-op and Anthony Collins Solicitors have come together to facilitate the Exchange and support a programme of inspiring speakers, interviews and discussion, real life examples of businesses or local projects, opportunities for networking and discussion, and one-to-one support. The venue will be open all weekend around our sessions for you to drop in, talk to us, and find out more about what’s going on.

On Friday evening, you can come and hear a brief introduction to what the Exchange is all about, and meet the key people involved. As well as the three lead organisations, you can meet Co-operatives UK (the national body for co-ops), wholefood co-op Daily Bread from Northampton, and social business Brightkidz.

Each day over the weekend, you can come and get one-to-one advice at our Exchange Support surgeries. Lawyers, experts and practitioners will all be available to give you advice and support if you’ve been inspired to dip your toes in the water of enterprise for the common good! No need to book, just turn up.

On Saturday morning, we launch our Exchange Ideas programme, where we showcase local organisations using enterprise to create change. Come and hear Energy 4 All talk about community ownership of power generation, and Birmingham Student Housing Co-op on students getting together to provide their own accommodation.

We have the first of our Exchange Inspiration speakers on Saturday afternoon. Vivian Woodell, the founder of The Phone Co-op, and Pete Westall from Midcounties Co-operative (who set up Co-operative Energy) will talk about what difference the structure and ownership of a business make, and in particular what makes a co-operative distinctive.

On Saturday and Sunday evenings, we are hosting our Exchange Conversation networking sessions, the first looking at an alternative approach to the economy with Common Home, the second considering missional based business with Make Good.

On Sunday afternoon, we continue our inspiration programme with special guest Ed Mayo, Secretary General of Co-operatives UK and me (David Alcock, head of Social Business at Anthony Collins Solicitors), discussing whether a business can be truly led by moral values. And then in a special extra session that afternoon, John Wills of Titchmarsh Village Shop will share the story of their journey into community retail!

On Monday morning, we’ll hear more ideas of what you can do in practice with Daily Bread and Brightkidz talking about community businesses, and Jonny Gordon-Farleigh of Stir to Action magazine talking about using church buildings creatively.

Also on Monday, we have two special panel sessions looking at key areas. The first, Cathedrals and Commerce, looks at large churches and using enterprise – what should our attitude be? And how we can navigate our way through what can feels like an ethical minefield?

Then, a panel of seasoned co-operative experts including Vivian Woodell, Joshua Brown from Co-operative Energy, and Cliff Mills from Anthony Collins Solicitors will reflect on the future and where next to build a better business world.

Finally, we’ll round things off with a final chance to meet those involved and think about next year in our farewell networking event.

We’re looking forward to the ideas, the challenge and the opportunity of using enterprise for the common good. Come and join us!

Pictured: Ed Mayo, Secretary General of Co-operatives UK