Community wealth building: chapter 5 of GM SC Temporary Stewards’ collective journey

Recap of the day


It’s the start of May, Manchester has switched on the sunshine and we, Greater Manchester System Changers Temporary Stewards, take our monthly meeting outside in nature, this time gathering at Hulme Community Garden Centre. Everything is lush, green and singing with spring. All at once, we are both vitalised by the new energy the season brings and lulled by the tranquillity of the place. It is the perfect setting for the purpose of our meeting: to explore community-stewarded capital and wealth-building rooted in love, interconnectedness and abundance for all beings, now and future generations.    

The meeting started with our usual check-in. We have come to learn and love this ritualistic importance in our monthly gatherings. We allow time for everyone to ‘land in the room’ and, with arms outstretched, share in each other’s achievements and hold one another through our challenges.  


Connecting with the land and invoking the deity of money

Intentionally, we sought out a peaceful setting in nature to unfurl and explore the complex, and at times uncomfortable feelings we have towards money. Carrina led us through a reflection exercise, inviting us to wander and wonder. We imagined money as a deity – a powerful god or supreme being that has its own agency, intentions, beliefs, characteristics and objectives – and worked through prompting questions from Post Capitalist Philanthropy, paying attention to our physical and emotional responses. We would treat our existing beliefs and feelings about money with kindness and curiosity. Drawing on the grounding and nurturing presence of the nature surrounding us, we would shift feelings of fear and scarcity mindset to a place of abundance.  

Deity of Money
<i> Money as a deity …
A giant unlimited army of arms
To make everything happen …
Oh Money
You are big as the high rise buildings
That surrounded me right now
High and out of reach …
And in a second
I am in the lift and now
Standing in the roof
You tell me
Enjoy the view
And you decide to press the G button
And I m again looking at you
From the ground
Oh Money
How sweet is to be so powerful
How you enjoy the feeling
Of being so secure of
Doing everything you want
Oh Money
You arrive
And doors re open
Gates are lifted
Windows are open
Bouquets of food and beverages arrives
People bow and serve
For you
To get just s seconds of your touch
What they believe to survive
But how do you feel
When someone decide not to worship but question
Your decisions and your luxurious presents
You told me how I feel?
And I just showed you
That i was not only one of your arms
But I became your eye
To watch behind your luxurious presents
Parties and touching the ones that only you decide
You always ignore those who are always your arms
And part of you
When you feel
You make it happen
It’s them not you
Oh Money
What you don’t see
Of what you can touch and can be
A word of possibilities
For anyone and everyone
Everywhere and whenever
Oh Money
Instead of unlimited arms
Trust your eye </i>

Mahboobeh Rajabi


Taking inspiration from what exists already

A key observation from the day was to learn from the wisdom of those who have gone before us. Hearing insights from Jo Ram (Resourcing Social Movements Lead, Lankelly Chase Foundation), Esther Foreman (Social Change Nest) and Cameron Bray (Barking & Dagenham Giving) on what is meant by and exists already when we say ‘community-stewarded capital’ reminded us that we do not need to start from scratch. 

Jo shared research on shifting power to communities, emphasising that community knowledge is key and too often under-utilised. There is a need to close the gap between investments and grant funding, for community participation in investments and for communities to understand how grant funding works and integrate this in their work. Jo outlined best practice as: trust, proper scaffolding, investment in capacity building and learning from existing community participation in investments. 

The UK's first community led investment fund

Decision-making is a significant factor to consider and there is plurality in approach here, from deep democracy where all people are involved in all decisions to a board of community members with different decision-making powers and limits, as examples. Cameron took a playful approach to examine the decision-making process with a game to unearth how we make decisions in a group compared to individually. This experiment allowed us to test our appetite for risk versus reward. Cameron highlighted that we make decisions all the time but as soon as we talk about investments, people feel they can’t make decisions. Part of the journey is exploring your risk appetite to understand where and how you invest. 

For wealth to be non-extractive and flow back to communities, a mindset change is required in how risk versus return on investment is perceived. There are lots of different ways investment can be structured and it is important to think about the desired outcome and work backwards, as well as decide on terms that work for the community. Crucially, investment is not just money but also supporting people as illustrated by Esther from Social Change Nest, the first fiscal host in the UK. Esther explained how grassroots groups need support with admin, skills, capacity, infrastructure, compliance and governance: all of which can become barriers that prevent people from getting started and creating change.


Celebration of Beltane and a journey into ‘healing wealth.’

GMSC drumming circle

At interludes throughout the day, we returned to the abundant nature surrounding us and tuned into the senses. Paul Connery led a meditative drumming session beneath the trees to celebrate Beltane, the Celtic fire festival that marks the coming of summer and the fertility of the year to come. Our admin support and eco-friendly florist, Indie from IndieBloom, guided us into creative flow with a seasonal flower arranging activity. These moments for pause, calm and mindfulness allowed us to feel the healing benefits of nature and set the tone for a journey into ‘healing wealth’. 


Closing thoughts

‘As within, so without’ is an expression that refers to the relationship between inner and outer worlds and somewhat captures the essence of a day that invoked our senses, inner thoughts, feelings, interconnectedness and abundance for all beings. We are not without emerging questions: How do we sustain broadly held ownership of wealth and decision-making powers that are locally rooted? How do we stop infrastructure from becoming centralised again? What does non-extractive, non-exploitative community-stewarded capital and wealth building mean to us? But there is much to learn from the wisdom within us and that which surrounds us. We can harness the learning from successful models in existence, propagate this knowledge, allow it to take root and expand its network. The soil is fertile, the seeds are sown and it is within our power to build an ecosystem to support their growth. 

GM SC May team photo

Money, money, money 

Always funny. 


Ebs and flows

Comes and goes 

Helps to grow, 

Sometimes high, 

Sometimes low, 


Always a lesson, 

Always a reason, 

Up and down, 

Season to season, 


Today is for planting a seed,
Confirming the only certainty, 

I’ll always have what I need.


Text: India Morgan

Visuals: Fero Studio

Photos: Virginie Assal