CTRLshift: An Emergency Summit for Change

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Emergency summit will bring together visionary organisations and individuals to create a powerful coherent voice and collective action for radical, positive change in the UK

Brexit (whether you agree with it or not) heralds a time of unprecedented, rapid change and opportunity. Its timing, amongst unfolding and concurrent crises of the environment, social justice and the economy, mean that we are facing stark realities and starker choices if we are to ride the various storms and emerge as a more resilient, more sustainable society, culture and land base.

We know an alternative, more positive, future already exists but those involved in creating it are not yet sufficiently connected, and our policies and practices not widely adopted. And we are in grave danger, if we do not galvanise ourselves, of allowing this change to happen without our voices heard, or our advice heeded.

This was the starting premise for organising CTRLshift: An Emergency Summit for Change in March this year. It’s purpose to create a point of coming together for organisations and individuals working towards radical positive change for the UK. We’re doing this by combining the strengths, talents and voices of groups working in often disparate fields ranging from social justice, solidarity economics, open democracy, food sovereignty and the environment to name just a few.

The idea is simple: we can be stronger if we work together – this time of great change and crises gives us the chance to help shape the kind of society we want to live in.

But this summit, as well as coming from a place of positive affirmation for the work we are doing, is also a recognition of failures on our part too. The need for such a summit in the first place reflects the fact that up to this point, our many organisations have failed to converge to create an effective voice to an alternative vision for the UK. Many of the partner organisations have recognised this fact and see the summit as an opportunity to radically alter the way we cooperate and communicate between our organisations as much as offering a coherent vision to the wider population.

Bob Cannell, of CBC Cooperative Business consultants, saw the benefit for his organisation immediately:

“CTRLshift is important for us to help coops to break out of our coop ghetto and join the solidarity economy as a whole.”

But timing is critical – we cannot wait around for Westminster to fix this – we have the power to change it together, and we need to take positive action now. And what better date than the 1st anniversary of the start of the Brexit process. The coming year may well be one of the most import in our history and we want to be part of the process not just disillusioned bystanders.

Local Futures, another key partner organisation see this summit as crucial to building a powerful, effective movement:”We urgently need to shift direction away from a global corporate-driven growth economy towards place-based economies in service of people and planet. Creative, cross-sector collaboration is required to unite diverse groups in the building of a movement powerful enough to turn the tide.”

Our choice of summit venue reflects many of our core values and hopes for the event and for its ongoing legacy.  When plotting this event, the initial co-convenors were looking for a location in one of the many ‘Brexit Towns’ – those places that voted strongly for Brexit. Our reasoning is and was that many of these represent places left behind. By good fortune, we found that 2017 marked the 80th anniversary of George Orwell’s classic tome, The Road to Wigan Pier, which was itself a journey through the post-industrial heartlands of England.

As it happens, most of those towns and cities Orwell toured through were also core Brexit voting areas which fitted perfectly with our intentions. We held our initial planning meeting with 20 organisations at The Old Courts in Wigan at the end of October 2017. Whilst there we also discovered that Gerrard Winstanley, the initiator of The Diggers Movement, was born and raised in the town, and that there is a thriving Wigan Diggers Festival to this day. His declaration ‘From the poor oppressed people of England’ seems a fitting backdrop to the work we wish to carry out in March 2018, over 400 years after his birth.

And we hope that this 2.5 day summit will be just the very start of a newly motivated and better coordinated movement. Dan Hurring, event coordinator for the Permaculture Association and partner in CTRLshift explains:

“The Summit is seen as the beginning of a process for change, rather than a single standalone event. The event is the jumping off point for what we intend will be a movement building process which could stretch across many years. We’re building here on inspiring and powerful work already done by others.”

That’s why we’re organising CTRLshift: An Emergency Summit for Change, because the time is now. We can’t waste another minute.

Join us on 27-29 March 2018 in Wigan to be part of the movement for positive change – www.ctrlshiftsummit.org.uk

  • EVENT: CTRLshift: An Emergency Summit for Change
  • LOCATION: The Edge Conference Centre, Riveredge, Wigan
  • DATE: 27-29 March 2018
  • PURPOSE: An emergency summit bringing together visionary organisations and individuals to create a powerful coherent voice and collective action for radical, positive change in the UK

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