If the UK is to hold together as a country – which must now be an open question – the only way it will do so is by enabling people and places to exercise power by and for themselves. That belief lies behind the series I have been writing here for the past nine months. In the Alternatives, I have sought to explore what that democratic, decentralised economy might look like, by reporting the ways people are already doing economics differently.
In Liverpool, I met residents of abandoned streets who brought them back to life by developing social housing. In Oldham, school caterers in the poorest town in England showed me how they feed their kids award-winning organic meals. The city of Plymouth is building an economy of social enterprises and co-operatives. Some of my interviewees are fighting austerity, such as the community in Witney keeping rural bus services running after cuts. Others are creating new civic institutions, such as Brighton’s Bevy, which is a pub, a community centre and, for some neighbours, a lifeline.