Updates 2002-6 (last revised July 21 2006)

Shorter updates are written below in full, and there are links to the longer ones. You can also link back to the original text from each update. The page numbers refer to the print edition.

A revised and updated second edition of the German version of Short Circuit, Jenseits der Globalisierung, will be published shortly. Details are available from Hans Diefenbacher via hans.diefenbacher@fest-heidelberg.de

A new Finnish edition of Short Circuit has been published, entitled Nykyaikainen paikallistalous (Modern Local Economy in English). Further details are available here.

We intend to keep adding to the updates as we get new information. We are keen for people to send in material in the projects mentioned or on others that complement those that are already there, or to point us to websites that it would be useful for us to list in the various sections. Please contact us if you would like to share information with us about any of the topics or organisations mentioned in the book..


The economy of Inishbofin

Chapter 3 Updates

The Westport LETS and other Irish LETS (p 64)

The Katoomba LETS and Michael Linton's work with LETS (p 66)

Ithaca Hours (p 85)

Time Dollars in the US and Japan (p 93)

Womanshare (p 93)

WIR (p 105)

July 2006: Theo Megalli and Tom Greco have written "An Annotated Précis, Review, and Critique" of Prof. Tobias Studer's book, WIR and the Swiss National Economy which can be downloaded from www.reinventingmoney.com/documents/StuderbookCritique.pdf

The spread of Bartercard (a commercial bartering organisation) (p 104)

Mondex (p116)

Jan 2003: After a three-year trial in Swindon organised by HSBC and NatWest, Mastercard took charge of Mondex in 1996 and has had complete ownership since 2001. Concerns about the security of internet and cell-phone based transactions seem to have hampered its spread since then but Mondex cards are available in 80 countries where they are accepted by a variety of businesses. They seem not to have had much influence on the amount of notes and coins in use.   CW  Original text on this subject

Chapter 4 Updates

British and Irish Credit Unions (p 126-127)

Tallow Area Credit Union (p 130-131)

Totnes Involvement in Local Trading (TILT)(p 132)

The Women's Self Employment Project (p135)

Self-Help Association for a Regional Economy (SHARE) (p 142)

Triodos Bank (formerly Mercury) (p 146)

Aston Reinvestment Trust, and other UK Reinvestment Trusts (p 148)

Community Development Credit Unions in the US

Radical Routes (p 149)

Dec 2002: Radical Routes continues to provide financial support and advice to its member co-ops. Its website lists as members 22 housing co-operatives, many of whose members maintain organic gardens and include social and political activism as part of their co-op's mission. There are also 6 member worker co-ops which include a printing press and a fair trade shop, and 3 social centres, one of which acts as a base for three worker co-ops. The co-ops are located in various parts of England, Scotland and Wales.

Radical Routes has set up a social investment society for people who are interested in investing in co-ops, called Rootstock. The Radical Routes website also includes information about its publications, which include a book on how to set up a worker-co-op and a member's directory.  CW  Original text on this subject

Industrial Common Ownership Finance Ltd. (ICOF)(p 149)

South Shore Bank (now Shore Bank) (p 153)

Inger Marie Ebbesen's bank (p167)

Jan 2003: Inger Marie Ebbesen's bank has been officially cleared of any financial problems. The creditors got back 98.59% of the funds they put into the bank . However, the fees for the lawyers and accountants she was forced to hire came to approximately 18 million kroner, which meant that the bank has been unable to open again . She is considering taking further legal action to try and recoup those funds.   CW  Original text on this subject

Mondragon (p 168)

Jan 2003: Mondragon Co-operative Corporation resembles a conventional multinational more and more closely. It now has factories in low-wage countries such as Thailand, China and Mexico, and has formed partnerships with other, more "normal" corporations. Even within Spain, approximately one-third of workers are now non-members of MCC. The changes have caused strong protests from within the organisation as well as from outside, but those in favour of them argue that nobody seems able to come up with a viable alternative for producing the kind of things that the Mondragon co-ops produce, in the current economic conditions.

Tim Huet, a San-Francisco based lawyer who directs the Center for Democratic Solutions, a nonprofit in San Francisco that advises co-ops, wrote an interesting article for GEO magazine in 2001 (available in an online version) in which he contrasts Mondragon's strategy with that of Italian worker co-operatives, which he believes have managed to adapt successfully to the changing market while keeping to their co-operative principles.   CW  Original text on this subject from Chapter 4 and Chapter 7.

Chapter 5 Updates

Community-based energy projects in the UK

May 2004: A number of universities in Britain are currently carrying out a joint research project with the aim of evaluating the role of community initiatives in improving the uptake of sustainable energy technologies in the UK. A paper by Dr Patrick Devine-Wright, one of the academics involved with the project, can be read here in PDF format.

Dr Devine-Wright's study focused on the effects of a wind energy project in a former mining area of South Wales. He found that there was strong local support for the idea that wind farms should be developed in partnership with the community. A large majority of respondents also thought that profits from the farm should be put back into the local community, and that the energy produced by the farms should be used locally. A small majority stated that wind farms should be locally owned.

The website for the research project is at http://www.staffs.ac.uk/schools/sciences/geography/IESR/communityenergyproject.htm .CW

Oil and natural gas depletion (p 180)

March 2003: According to the White Paper on Energy published by the British Government in February 2003, the UK will become a net importer of gas by 2006 and of oil by 2010. As a result of the decline in home production, by 2020, the country will be dependent on imports for 75% of its primary energy needs.

These imports will have to be secured in circumstances of increasing scarcity. Many independent petroleum geologists have gone on record as saying that world oil production will peak at around 2009 and then decline steadily. World gas production will peak around 2040.

Thus, as the graph from the August 2002 edition of the Newsletter published by the Association for the Study of Peak Oil (ASPO) shows, by around 2015, the total amount of energy available from oil and gas will begin to decline. This will radically change the nature of the world economy by making transport and the use of fertilisers much more expensive. It will therefore create very favourable circumstances for the re-emergence of local economies apart from one thing - the energy required to provide the equipment and infrastructure these will require will be expensive and in limited supply. Places which become more energy self-reliant over the next decade will therefore enjoy a great advantage.

Further information on oil and gas depletion can be obtained from www.asponews.org.  RD  Original text on this subject

The Kinsale gas field(p180 - bottom of page)

March 2003: An agreement to cease production from the main Kinsale Head gas field was reached in August 2000 although a small amount of gas is still produced by two much smaller fields in the same area, Southwest Kinsale and Ballycotton. The resulting shortfall in the country's gas supplies has been made up by building a second pipeline to bring in gas from the British grid. Another gas field, the Corrib, has been discovered off the Mayo coast but plans to bring the gas ashore in North Mayo have been delayed by local objections to the site of the terminal and the pollution it is feared it will cause.   RD  Original text on this subject

Status of wind energy production and wind guilds in Denmark (p 206)

Feb 2003: According to Torgny Møller of  Windpower Monthly magazine, "the total number of turbines [in Denmark] today should be about 6,000 and approx. 17 per cent of the electricity used in the country is delivered by them". Projections show that by next year 21 per cent of electricity will be produced by wind power, out of a total of 27 per cent produced by renewable energy. Approximately 20,000 people are now employed in wind-energy related jobs in Denmark. Over 100,000 Danish families now hold shares in wind guilds, which own eighty-five per cent of the country's turbines.(Source: Sarah MacDonald, Sunday Independent, Nov 3rd 2002).   CW  Original text on this subject

Community-owned wind projects in the US

May 2004: A new study by the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in the US outlines the development of community-owned wind projects there. The study authors speculate that these projects may be reaching a "tipping point" beyond which they will spread more widely in the US. They describe some state and federal incentives which they believe have been helpful. A brief report on the study can be read at the Solar Access website, at http://solaraccess.com/news/story?storyid=6675, and the study itself is at http://eetd.lbl.gov/ea/EMS/cases/community_wind.pdf (PDF document).CW

Current US wind research (p209)

Nov 2002: The US companies mentioned in the original text no longer exist in their previous form. Consolidation, mergers and bankruptcies have taken place. Lee Jay Fingersh from the National Wind Technology Center commented in an October 2002 e-mail that "the current player in the US in the large (utility class) wind turbine market is General Electric, specifically GE Wind Energy, formerly Enron Wind, formerly Zond".

Fingersh adds that "we are still working on 'lighter' machines. However, this is within the context of scaling the machines up to much, much larger sizes. Current machines in production are in the 1.5 MW class which roughly equates to a rotor diameter of 70 meters. These are very large machines. However, much larger machines are currently in the prototype stages. Even though these machines are large and therefore heavy, they are designed to be as light as possible for their size."

"As to the drive train, problems remain but are being aggressively dealt with. We have built a very large dynamometer here at the NWTC for testing large-scale drive trains and improvements have been made. Contracts are in place with several companies to create new, more unique drive trains specifically to address the issues of weight, reliability, efficiency and cost."  CW  Original text on this subject

The Inishowen Energy Co-operative (p211)

March 2003: Although, sadly, Barney Walsh died in October, 2000, Stan McWilliams persisted in his efforts to enable the Inishowen community to invest in wind energy. In July 2001 he and some friends set up an organisation, Bri Nua, to act as a vehicle to community investment into a windfarm for which he had obtained planning consent and other projects. McWilliams then encouraged me to set up a similar organisation in Mayo - the Mayo Community Wind Energy Group - so that public money could be obtained to carry out a feasibility study into the best way of raising and directing local money. The two groups raised 15,000 euros from their local Leader companies and this was parlayed into 75,000 euros with further grants from the Western Development Commission and Sustainable Energy Ireland. The contract for the feasibility study was awarded in February 2003 and the report is expected in July.  RD  Original text on this subject

Status of straw in Denmark (p214)

Nov 2002: The Danish government's policy is to increase the amount of energy produced by straw by 1% per annum. As of 2000, the percentage of Danish power produced by renewables was 10%, with the bulk of the increase brought about by the greater use of straw. A detailed description of the Danish policy can be found online at www.videncenter.dk: look under "publications" and then click on "Straw for Energy Production".  CW   Original text on this subject

Freewheelers (p231)

Nov 2003: Freewheelers is now free to use, and has become a fully Internet-based service with around 3000 members. The service is run entirely by volunteers, but according to Daniel Harris, doesn't demand much time or energy to operate because "the website is totally automated". When I asked him if he thought there was more awareness than there used to be about the need for car-pooling, he answered "A little but not enough. I think the biggest indicator is walking down a residential street at any time of day on any day of the year you'll find the street crammed full of cars. So in aggregate there's always a street load of cars not being used and that's a despicable waste of resources". Freewheeler's future plans include going multilingual.  CW  Original text on this subject

Parking in Groningen (p 233)

Jan 2003: The plan to close the entire central area of Groningen to parking has had to be abandoned because it would have entailed building a car park underneath a public square. The square contains an old church tower, and some citizens were concerned that the tower might be damaged in the course of the car park's construction, so they voted against the project.  CW  Original text on this subject

Lothian and Edinburgh Environmental Partnership (LEEP) (p243)

Dec 2002: Simon Lee, LEEP's director, writes:

The most significant outcome of the Billsavers project was Fridgesavers, which LEEP ran on behalf of UK electricity suppliers from 1997 to 2002. Billsavers was able to develop a standard set of questions which low income householders completed about their fridge or fridgefreezer. Answers to the questions were scored and where a certain score was attained the householder was eligible for a new appliance at a cost greatly subsidised by their power company. Between 1997 and 2002 Fridgesavers delivered some 180,000 appliances to low income households saving them an estimated 18 million in the purchase price and around 10 million per annum in running costs.

The Billsavers project was one of a series of energy efficiency promotions run by LEEP. LEEP continues to provide a range of energy advice services and related projects promoting energy efficiency grants to different sectors. One such project was ReWarm which addressed the private rented sector, long seen as a difficult sector to encourage improvements in energy efficiency. ReWarm offered landlords a mix of grants and interest free loans to install efficient heating systems and insulation. The grant for heating systems represented around 25-50% of the overall cost of installation. The scheme was very successful despite the received wisdom which was that landlords do not care about the energy efficiency of their rented properties. ReWarm proved that very often they do - but that they do not prioritise it above other responsibilities (most landlords ran maybe one or two properties which they may have inherited for example, so their renting business was very much a side line). These are part of a wider portfolio of activity addressing recycling and transport issues, all of which relate to the overall aim of LEEP to promote environmentally sustainable economic development in the area..  Original text on this subject

The Energy Club (p244)

Jan 2003: Simon Roberts, Chief Executive of the Centre for Sustainable Energy as the Bristol Energy Centre is now called, provided this information for us:

Like many other attempts funded by the Energy Saving Trust to develop an energy services offering for the domestic sector, the Energy Club was not financially sustainable. Although by early 1997 it had reached 1 million households and given energy advice to some 18% of them, the households did very little to take up its suggestions. So it was gone by mid-1997. A report for the Energy Saving Trust on why the Energy Club didn't work identified two principle problems - (a) that payment for the energy saving work was not fully integrated with fuel billing and so remained part of a household's discretionary expenditure, and (b) the opportunity to save the price of half a pint of beer a week from energy efficiency improvements wasn't enticing enough for householders to invest spare cash or take out a loan - however cheap that loan might be.

We are about to investigate a different approach to addressing this problem in a particular part of Bristol but it is too early to provide details on that (having learnt from puffing our chests out last time!). Details of our recent projects to develop community-scale renewable energy applications can be found at this link.See Pitching for Solar, for example.    Original text on this subject

Chapter 6 Updates

Longer updates:

Irish Seed Savers (p 265)

Professor Wolfe's work with seed populations and agroforestry (p 269)

The Buschberghof biodynamic farm (p291)

The community supported agriculture movement in the US (p 292)

The Philipstown Trust (p 297)

The Schumacher Society's work with Community Land Trusts (p300)

Community Land Trusts in Scotland (p 302)

Stonesfield Community Trust (p 304)

Village Retail Services Association (ViRSA) (p 315)

Short updates and updated statistics from this chapter:

DUS testing in the UK (p261)

Nov 2002: Testing cost 90 in 1976, when fees were first introduced, and had risen to 815 for cereals in 2002, plus an application fee of 300, which has to be repaid each year. A variety can be entered on the National list if it passes the test and undergoes a trial, for a fee of 1300 in 2002. (Source:UK DEFRA)   CW   Original text on this subject

Heritage Seed Library (p 267)

Nov 2002: As of 2002, there were still around 700 seed varieties in the HDRA seed library, and the number of seed guardians had risen to 300. The Heritage Seed Programme is now known as the Heritage Seed Library.   CW   Original text on this subject

Heavy Horse numbers (p 273)

As of early 2003, there were approximately 3000 Shire horses in the UK according to the Shire Horse Society. Suffolk Punch numbers have gone down to 200, and there is information about the campaign to save the breed at the Suffolk Punch Pages website. Clydesdales are more numerous, at about 1000, and are also popular in the US and elsewhere in the world.   CW   Original text on this subject

Ratio of price to farmers vs prices to consumers (p 283)

Feb 2003: By 2000, farmers in the US were being paid an average of $0.09 for their contribution to the production of an 18 oz packet of cornflakes, for which consumers paid on average $2.14. (This and many other farm-to-retail price spreads for the US can be found on the USDA's website).

Graph showing price ratios for farmers vs consumers in Germany from 1950 to present
Source: www.zmp.de
In Britain, the farmer's share in the sale price of food had fallen from just over 50 per cent in 1945 to 7.5 per cent in 2002 (Source:Wessex Reinvestment Trust Market Feasibilty Study, University of Salford, Oct 2002)

In 2002, farmers in Germany got an average of 27 cents for every euro consumers spent on food. The ratio fluctuates wildly depending on the type of food in question - for dairy products they got 43 cents, but for wheat and other bread-related products they got 4 cents (down from 45 cents in the 1950s!) (Source: ZMP (Zentrale Markt- und Preisberichtstelle für Erzeugnisse der Land-, Forst- und Ernährungswirtschaft GmbH).)   CW   Original text on this subject

Ayrshire Organic Growers and Northwood Farm (p 295/6)

Jan 2003: According to the Soil Association, by 2001 there were over 200 box schemes operating throughout the UK. Judging for the box scheme category of the Association's organic food awards was actually carried out at Northwood Farm (the Deanes' farm) that year, which had 85 box scheme customers at that point. The University of Essex's Centre for Environment and Society website includes an interesting online essay by Jan Deane on the Deanes' experience with their farm.

Following Dave Bellingham's death in 1996 the Ayrshire Organic Growers ceased to operate, although the walled garden is still used to grow organic vegetables. There is another box scheme in the area now, however, called Stair Organic Growers, which seems to be doing well.   CW   Original text on this subject

DIY-style Microbreweries in the UK (p305)

Jan 2003: The Ivy Bush closed in 1999, and other DIY-type breweries have also not succeeded in the UK, although elsewhere they have had better luck. Iain Loe, the research and information manager at CAMRA, wrote in a January 2003 e-mail:

"The reason why the Birmingham Brew on premises site closed, as did (as far as I know) the ones elsewhere in the country were, I believe, cask flow problems: lack of a strong customer base who regularly used the premises. The reason why there were not more customers was I believe because the offering did not appeal to enough people. It was not a full mash operation....there was a restricted choice of recipes."

He added, "There is a lot of very good beer being produced by the many new small breweries about. The pricing structure was probably wrong. Brew on Premises operations have worked well in places like Canada where in many parts there is a dearth of good beer."   CW   Original text on this subject

Short Circuit by Richard Douthwaite: links within this site

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Chapter 1 Chapter 2 Chapter 3 Chapter 4 Chapter 5 Chapter 6 Chapter 7
Epilogue 2002/3 Updates Links Site Map