Welcome to St John the Baptist Church in Smalley, Derbyshire.

The Revd Kate Plant writes:

I was inspired by Jim’s article in the last issue to think about local economies and the role we all play in them. Added to that I had a happy few hours at a Smalley coffee morning and at Morley at the Annual St Matthew’s garden party. They were both fund raising events that do so much more than just raise funds. As a consequence I have been thinking about the power we have as ‘consumers’ to shape, not just economies but the world around us.

I know very little about economics – but I think there is a long standing dispute about whether ‘Free Markets’ sort themselves out effectively to the good of all in the end – by a process termed ‘the invisible hand’ – or whether Governments need to intervene to a little or greater extent to ensure that the whole of society benefits.

Either way, that feels disempowering to individuals and communities. Isn’t it possible that the actual consumer, (that’s all of us who have choices about how we spend) can be as responsible as governments are – perhaps more so. We all know that to love our neighbour as ourselves is a good idea. We know we can impact on our neighbour by acts of kindness and service. But it occurs to me its also about on what and where we spend our money. We can decide to buy presents that build the community, we can decide to support local businesses that are accountable to us because we know them and we want our local area to thrive, we can decide to source our electricity from renewable resources, or ensure that neighbours further away, who make our tea, are paid a fair wage. The examples are endless and each of us will have our own particular cause we back through the way we spend our money and we can encourage others to do so also.

Since I have been here people have been really helpful in telling me where to get the dog groomed, where to buy stuff with less packaging, how to catch the bus to so and so. I think the communities I have arrived in are good at this; I hope to learn from you all. Governments would not have to intervene so much if we (the consumer) spent responsibly and if there is going to be an invisible hand at play, wouldn’t it be brilliant if it were informed by consumers who want strong communities, a healed planet, and who mind about neighbours near and far?

Kate

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