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  • Writer's picturePhil

Flexibility, sustainability and austerity - "Coventry Ramble..." background.

After years of working in Further Education (Computing) my contract was ended on health grounds. After a spell on benefits I was considered to be “fit for work” despite knowing that I could not reliably undertake a “normal” 9-5, 5 day a week job.

When considering my next move and trying to work out a plan I laid out a list of “What Matters” to try to clarify to myself what I could do and be happy with. I quickly came up with the following list:

What matters

1. Being nice to animals – including people (and myself) item one could sum up a “nice” approach to life.

2. Time (in a way but not in the way of being a slave to it). Perhaps what I mean is being mindful of “the moment” and seizing it.

3. Nature

4. Recognising “the right thing to do” as you go along your way (see item 1)

5. Health

What doesn’t matter

1. Possessions

2. Money for its own sake

I think most people would more or less agree with the “What Matters” list. The “What doesn’t matter” probably not so much! I think it is only fair to point out that I came up with this list as a single, non-smoking, non-driving houseowner with no mortgage or large debts and children having grown up and left home . Despite being left with no income other than that which I had hoped to achieve through self-employment I was able to cut outgoings to a minimum.

The next step was looking at how to achieve meeting that minimum fitting in with my “What Matters” outlook. Having just a moderate amount of savings in reserve small amount of saving in reserve for “emergencies” and potential vets bills I got on with planning a more frugal life!

I have watched documentaries showing senior politicians carrying out a stunt like project showing that they were able to live off benefits for a week or so and used that for a justification of austerity like policies– which misses the point!

I believe that until we move to a way of living that is geared towards peoples’ needs and fulfillment rather than short term financial returns (and very often greed) that there will always be hardship and the sort of waste and environmental chaos that we now see on a daily basis. So although I’m trying to live in a “sustainable” way it is not with any illusion that this will help to eliminate wider problems in any major way – but it does suit me at the moment!

My solution to live according to my list was to look at my capabilities and to give self-employment a go. I joined the New Enterprise Allowance project which gave a small income during a six month set up period for a new business and launched my “In Godiva’s Footsteps” enterprise.

Given an interest in local history, sustainability and acknowledgement of a need for social change I’ll be looking at pulling these themes together on upcoming posts on this blog and hopefully describing a lifestyle based not just on traditional employment but at support for local trading schemes (I always make a point of looking at freecycle each morning!), local initiatives to reduce waste, voluntary schemes – all within the context of Coventry’s history, people and future outlook for sustainable industry. Watch this space - Let the ramble begin ....

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