Analysis of the attempt to establish a community currency into a Scottish Neighbourhood; focusing on community participation and engagement
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The Transition Town Movement is a grassroots, community development movement which emerged in the UK and which aims to make communities more sustainable, stronger and more resilient in the face of environmental, economic and social problems we currently face. One initiative which has been adopted by the Transition Town Movement is community currencies; a broad term for a currency that operates within defined boundary (such as a community), alongside national currency and which facilitates the exchange of goods and services between the people within that area. Because community currencies operate within closed circuits and between local people and businesses they have the potential to strengthen local economies, aid in reducing carbon emissions, act as a community building tool and also as a mechanism to achieve sustainable consumption. As the Transition Town Movement is a grassroots, bottom-up movement meaningful community participation and engagement is an essential component with transition initiatives. Portobello, Edinburgh is a community that attempted to establish a community currency however, insufficient community support caused by a deficient community engagement and involvement strategy has been identified as a primary reason for the collapse of the project. Through an investigation into the approaches used to maximise community participation during the establishment of a community currency (The Lewes Pound) within Lewes, East Sussex, this study endeavoured to provide guidance for Portobello going forward in the future. The primary findings from the research undertaken within Lewes concluded that; • Transition Town Lewes and the Local Currency Team are deemed as somewhat of a closed group that is not representative of the wider community and greater steps need to be taken to increase inclusiveness within the community. • Education within the Local Currency Team regarding community currencies was limited and there were few external support resources available. • Community members felt that while promotion, education and awareness raising efforts were taken during the initial stages of the project they were not consistent and on-going and as a result enthusiasm dissipated within the community. • Finally, within the community there is certain level of resistance to the Lewes Pound, which, if not dealt with, could prevent the project going forward in the future. In light of these findings recommendations were provided on how Portobello can progress with their CC initiative in the future.