Blackbird Learning Circle: PROGRESS REPORT [1]

BLC progress report [1] early August 2023

The Learning Circle held its first meeting on Saturday the 29th of July 2023 in Abington, Northampton, England.

The full notes from the session will be uploaded to seperately.

Time Bank

People identify their skills or offers which are entered onto a database. Skills/offers are shared with others in return for time ‘award’. 

For example, I have offered my carpentry skills, and you ask me to build a bookcase. I build a bookcase for you which takes me 4 hours. I can then spend those 4 hours by engaging with other people’s skills/offers. I get a haircut (2 hours), my garden lawn cut (2 hours) etc.

  • Develop relationships and community.
  • Everyone has something to offer so it is empowering.
  • Can reach a wide group of people.
  • Can provide time benefits for people around behaviour change i.e. not using cars.
  • The time taken factor challenges the usual capitalist norms of rewarding labour where everyone’s time is ‘costed’ unequally – pay is £11 an hour or £50 an hour so some people’s time is much more valuable than others. instead in the time bank everyone’s time is ‘costed’ equally. Everyone’s time is valued the same.
  • Is creating different ways of organising together, and of exchange, that is an alternative to the dominant ideology of competition and creation of profit.


  1. Waiting for call back from main admin of Coventry Time Union.
  2. Go to Coventry ‘Politics and Pakora’ evening to find out more. *Including checking legality around taxes/ benefits etc.
  3. Everyone to communicate any questions for the admin in Coventry.
  4. Research potential models for an online platform.

Community Gardens

  • Develop sustainable food growing capacity within our communities.
  • Develop food growing skills within our communities.
  • Create a preparation and distribution area for processing allotment/garden produce.
  • Support Blackbird food share with produce.
  • Support with harvesting and processing food.

South Court Environmental Co-operative members attended the Learning Circle to discuss one of their four projects, Glebeland Community Allotment.

Members of South Court Environmental Co-operative shared that they would like people to volunteer at Glebelands Community Allotment on Monday mornings. A possible flyer was shared.

Request for more curiosity around SCE’s projects and governance, as it is a long established cooperative. Volunteering involves something different from volunteering in a non-coop, it involves engagement in cooperative practice and a range of benefits and protections – which are not available to volunteers in non coops.


  1. Learning Circle agreed that they could help with flyering around Kings Heath/Gladstone Road.
  2. Members of the Learning Circle said they will promote the project to potential volunteers and direct towards the South Court Environmental Facebook page and the South Court Environmental email especially in terms of volunteer policies, governance and support from which volunteers with SCE benefit.
  3. Call out for fruit pickers and processing when needed.
  4. Discuss preparation and processing area in house for gluts/picking/distribution and any other allotment or garden projects that need that support.

Food shares

Blackbird free kitchen at Blackcurrent Centre

This project, which includes sourcing clothes and other material donations as well as individual support, has been running successfully for over a year, and is at the heart of the learning circle.

Community Shelf near Kettering Road/St Michael’s Mount

Fliers to be shared across local area asking for an address where it can be hosted.
A few people have already offered to maintain the shelf.

New Foodshare in Abington

Further discussion will be had by potential participants.

Blackbird Zine

  • Share the views, writing, and work of local and likeminded people
  • Advocate self-organisation & liberatory community-building
  • Give local examples of societal/systemic problems and responses

Contributors for the second zine are now being contacted. Share additions by email: blackbirdcp(at)


Do you have ideas for community action, social, or educational events? Get in touch!

Or if you would like to write or design for the zine, or join any other projects, please reach out and come along.

Email: blackbirdcp[at]

By Blackbird

Blackbird Community Project is a Northampton community-building initiative that hosts a free kitchen 2 Sundays each month, prints a newsletter with items from local people, and sets up Learning Circles on survival skills and how to make change. 

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