give and receive



a place for teaching and learning

Neighbourhood Trade School is the beginning of a school for transition at the neighbourhood scale to exchange the wisdom of our places and democratise access to the skills we need to design, own and govern the climate transition and retrofit of our homes, streets and neighbourhoods.

“My message in the face of the recent IPCC report? Whether we are driven by rage or by theory, by creativity or by education, whether we are doctors, activists, authors, musicians, lawyers or mothers, there is a role for everyone in the climate movement.”

**—Joycelyn Longdon

In our neighbourhoods we are able to discover, nurture and unlock the most agency in ourselves and one another, alongside understanding first hand the power of working collectively to take care of each other in difficult times. Despite being battered by acute and cascading crises, pouring energy into mutual aid through necessity, and facing real systemic barriers to be overcome, neighbourhoods across the world have continued to demonstrate that we can organise, come together, and in doing so experience the capacity for shifts that we are able to make most directly, in our own lives, and the lives of our neighbours, families and loved ones.

Whilst we are continually inspired by and learn so much from those organising and exchanging as a natural part of neighbourhood life, past and present, we know the compounding pressures build into a perfect storm that none of us can take on alone, and that meeting the needs of our communities requires skills and resources beyond those that are currently invested in. The challenges impacting on our lives and places go beyond what we are able to intuit or for any one organisation, community of people, or methodology of organising to tackle independently, risking us being unable to shift things quickly or deeply enough to protect us from the future challenges that we know with a high degree of confidence are coming.

“The skills transition is a key pillar of a just transition — the rapid and managed decarbonisation of our economy, delivered through social dialogue, which produces jobs, training and skills, social protection, and community stability, while leaving no worker — or community — behind.”

—New Economics Foundation

As we seek to limit damage from global temperature change, there are systemic pressures colliding that mean the viability of many sustainable building technologies is at risk. Labour shortages combined with an insufficiently skilled and ageing workforce mean that resourcing sustainable building activities (for both modernisation and construction) is already a major problem for the building sector (Euractiv, 2021), meaning mobilising around retrofit at the scale and pace we need to will require many more of us. The energy crisis meets a material crisis as inconceivable quantities of materials will be needed to achieve a decarbonised economy on a global scale, and the use of these is already fuelling geopolitical tensions that will almost certainly further intensify material resource pressures (Laudes Foundation, 2023), meaning what our neighbourhoods can do with the existing materials found there is going to become critical.

Drawing upon the ability for our neighbourhoods to connect, learn, grow, adapt and share together, Neighbourhood Trade School is one part of co-building and democratising access to the spaces, tools, resources and infrastructure that neighbourhoods need to co-lead the social, ecological, economic and climate transition of the 21st century. Longer term, it will inform and find a home as part of the building of a regenerative public square, including spaces such as a microfactory fit for a neighbourhood retrofit movement in practice in the heart of Birmingham.

How do we utilise the inherent capacity for neighbourhoods to trade and share in order to make our homes, streets and neighbourhoods resilient to the challenges and opportunities we will face together now and in the future?

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