Reflections from Meaning 2019, a conference for better 21st century business

Cal Desmond-Pearson from the Losing Control Advisory Council attended Meaning 2019, a conference for better 21st century business in Brighton on 14th November 2019 

To give you a taste of Meaning 2019, this blog shares thoughts on some of the speakers at the conference who had the most impact on Cal. 

You can also head over to Twitter to check out Cal’s live tweets at the event:  https://twitter.com/i/moments/1200419076369195008


Thanks to the help of Losing Control Network and Lankelly Chase I was given the opportunity to
attend the Meaning Conference in Brighton on 14th November.

Meaning is a get together of 500 people who care passionately and deeply about creating a meaningful impact on the world. They range from large companies, charities. and public-sector bodies through entrepreneurs to people like myself.

This years speakers ranged from Maff Potts of the Camerados movement to Paul Mason the journalist and author. It also included speakers on The Fair Trade movement, Extinction Rebellion, and the New Economics Foundation.

I’ll mention a few of the speakers who had the most impact on me.

The first speaker was Clare Farrell the co-founder of Extinction Rebellion. I’m an environmental
activist so it was interesting to hear Clare talk about the ethos behind XR whilst admitting that they had made mistakes and how they hoped to learn from them. Clare spoke about the importance of social change companies/charities/etc role in environmental issues.

“Act now, means being embodied, taking action and having open-hearted vulnerability as well as bravery. It’s not about putting on a stern face and going out and taking it. Tell the truth and then act as if the truth is real.”

Brett Hennig of the Sortition Foundation spoke about about the parlous state of modern democracy. Brett talked about the practice of Sortition. The random selection of people to come together and make decisions as part of a Citizens’ Assembly. Interestingly the subject of Citizen’s Assemblies was discussed at the People’s Powerhouse annual conference I attended last week in Sunderland. 

“Sortition means randomly selecting people and bringing them together in an informed and
deliberative environment. It’s not what people do think but what they would think.”

Armin Steuernagel, as well as setting up several successful businesses of his own, has also assisted in the birth of 30+ companies in structuring and financing ‘steward-ownership’. A new way of doing business. Turning away from simply making a profit to look instead for public purpose.

Sarah McKinley from The Democracy Collaborative talked about the ‘Cleveland Model’ which is a simple and radical way for co-operative businesses to operate in partnership with public institutions as part of a healthy, resilient, localised economy.

”Who owns the world’s resources – shouldn’t be in the hands of a few.
Need to take democracy outside the political realm eg community banks and take back our utilities.”

Here are community wealth building’s 8 Basic Principles:

1 ) Labour matters more than capital
2) Local, broadbased ownership matters
3) Active democratic ownership & participation matter
4) Multipliers matter
5) Localizing investment matters
6) Collab matters
7) Place really matters
8) Community wealth is where next system begins.”

The event was closed by Maff Potts of Camerados movement. Camerados is about radical friendship, creating space for people to have valuable conversations.

”A Camerado is halfway between a stranger snd a friend.”
”The key to a happier and healthier society is friendship.”

I hope that this has given you a taste of what the Meaning Conference is about. I can’t wait to attend next year! I’m already saving my pennies!

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