CONFERENCE REPORT

‘Visions of Mercia – The Midlands after Meltdown’

The conference was held at the North Staffs African Caribbean centre in Cannon Place, Hanley (the city centre of Stoke-on-Trent) on Saturday 20th March 2010.

This conference had been arranged to discuss a range of positive visions for the future of Mercia (the greater midlands of England) in the light of the current, apparent, meltdown of the economy, of democracy, of communities and ecological sustainability.

Following the discovery of the fabulous Staffordshire Hoard, public awareness has risen sharply about the Anglo-Saxon era prior to the Norman Conquest of 1066 which destroyed the culture of the time – and even to this day. The organic democratic, communitarian, sustainable lifestyle of the pre-1066 Anglo-Saxon Mercians may serve us well as a ‘blueprint for the future, inspired by the past’.

Speakers from various organisations which share similar, not necessarily identical by any means, and synergistic approaches to the challenges which now appear to be at hand, outlined their approach and invited questions, statements and discussion from the audience during their allotted time of 30 minutes and informally at other times during the day.

Visions of Mercia

Peter Robinson - Greenpeace

From left to right (top photo): John Beardmore (Transition Derby UK), William Barron (Transition Derby UK), David Robins (Regionalist Seminar and Acting Witan of Mercia)), Edmund Davey (Optimum Population Trust), Woody Wood (Devolve!), Philip Snow (Acting Witan of Mercia), Colin Bex (Mercia Bureau and Acting Witan of Mercia)), Sue Bell (Acting Witan of Mercia), Jeff Kent (Acting Witan of Mercia), inset: Peter Robinson (Greenpeace)

The day was judged to have been a marked success in bringing together various organisations which though otherwise unrelated are connected by the ways in which their respective aims fit together with each other.

All of the speakers presented extremely well, and despite the limits on time they were able to make strong and coherent cases for their aims and their visions for the future. All speakers entertained questions and points of view from the audience after their presentations and later in the day.

There was essentially nothing but support for all of the speakers and their points of view, and the broad conclusion of the conference was that the aims and visions of all the respective organisations will contribute to a positive future for the midlands; and that, as far as practicable, there should be continuing mutual support through such networking including future joint meetings and cross-fertilisation of ideas and approaches.

It was agreed that there should be a follow-up meeting in about 6 – 8 weeks to turn intention into action.

Schedule for the day:

10.00am to 10.20am Reception (tea and coffee available)

10.20am to 10.30am Welcome and introduction from the Facilitator, Philip Snow (member of the Acting Witan of Mercia)

10.30am to 11.00am Jeff Kent, The Acting Witan of Mercia, ‘Why Mercia?’

11.00am to 11.30am Edmund Davey, The Optimum Population Trust, ‘Numbers matter in Mercia’

11.30am to 11.45am Break for refreshments

11.45am to 12.15pm Colin Bex, The Mercia Bureau, ‘Post Meltdown Mercia – Dictatorship, Democracy – or something else?’

12.15pm to 12.45pm William Barron, Transition Derby, ‘Tackling the twin challenges of climate change and peak oil’

12.45pm to 1.30pm Lunch break (no catering provided on site)

1.30pm to 2.00pm David Robins, Regionalist Seminar, ‘Mercia’s Space – Know Your Place’

2.00pm to 2.30pm Peter Robinson, Greenpeace, ‘Influencing Human, State and Corporate Activity’

2.30pm to 2.45pm Break for refreshments

2.45pm to 3.15pm Woody Wood, Devolve! ‘Doing it Sideways in the new Mercia’

3.15pm to 3.45pm Speakers’ Question & Answer Time

3.45pm to 4.00pm Jeff Kent, Acting Witan of Mercia, ‘Initiatives’

4.00pm to 4.45pm Open discussion led by Jeff Kent, Acting Witan of Mercia: ‘The Way Ahead’

4.45pm to 5.00pm Facilitator’s concluding remarks