Introducing Slow Plate in Alexandra

Communities of Practice

When people come together to achieve the same objectives, they form a group amongst themselves. Inside these groups we see interesting patterns emerging. These groups often are aimed at teaching people “how to do the job” and Communities of practice, and their features become visible when groups start managing themselves, their new members and their activities as a group with a singular objective. 

In this course, Nxazonke, we are proposing the development of CoP as a way to manage the entrepreneurs’ collective entry to the market, the building of their capacities, the development of their enterprises and products, and the way the enterprise is “networked” with the community.

We are thus proposing that groups, who all focus on creating a sustainable food market in local areas, could be the way in which we coordinate economic development. We are proposing that the structuring of such groups can best be done if we look at the following:

  1. The names, profile, nature, identity and activities of the group. We are asking that each group, entrepreneur or enterprise conceptualises and develops a name, profile, a narrative or story about themselves, and objects, like logo’s, banners, and a name so that they become visible and prevalent in the local area. The way we can develop these “boundary objects” are important and we need to capture the need for good food, economic growth and sustainability in these “boundary objects”. This is how the world will see this group, and the building of its identity is the first step in stating to build a sustainable enterprise and sustainable economy.

  2. The learning that takes place. Each group needs to focus on building capacity amongst its members and in the community where it exists. Each groups needs to start a learning journey and be prepared to teach others in this learning journey. In the Nxazonke course we will be teaching lots about CoP, sustainable enterprises, ho0w to design and develop them, and how to implement them. This needs to become a larger project in the community. Any new entrepreneur, or existing entrepreneur should be able to gain basic information from I a group or from others about what is needed to build a sustainable and circular enterprise in the local area.

  3. The networks and associations that people make. These networks and associations are the stuff that makes a community and society. We should be actively building networks amongst ourselves for economic development. In this course you will learn about techniques to actively build networks and relationships between your garden, enterprise or group and the community. These relationships and networks is the channels through which you will sell, build input systems, and develop your products.

  4. The Activities and Practices that take place: We all need to learn what to do to build a sustainable food system and a sustainable healthy community. These lessons need to be shared amongst us and we need to actively build ways in which people learn about these activities. We need to build ways in which we can show others how to build sustainable gardens, what recipes we can use to feed our children healthy meals, and how to build sustainable enterprises that circulates value in our communities. These Activities need to be shared through gardens, through demonstrating how enterprises work, and by building stories, knowledge and new practices that are beneficial to us as communities.

  5. Reflection: Communities need to make the right decisions when it comes to their own development. In the Nxazonke course, we will be realising a programme of public deliberation around the implementation of the Nxazonke course. This is to ensure that we can reflect, question and deliberate about the things we want to do, and to do these things better. We also need to understand the choices we can make and the consequences of making these. In the Nxazonke course we will build in sufficient opportunities for communities to reflect and make the best possible decisions on the programme we are implementing.


Circular Enterprises and Economies

We have been taught how to do business in a straight line. We buy from manufacturers and then sell on to customers. This is however the incorrect way to think of the world and the way we do business. Business, like the world and nature, always takes place within a network of relationships, and a circular enterprise makes these relationships work.

We manufacture products with an end of lifetime, and after that we simply discard them. This is the wrong way to think of business. When we discard things, someone pays the price or picks up the pieces. Circular enterprise and economies aim to build watertight relationships and systems so we conserve all the value we create when we make things.

Every business cycle creates values and wastes and a circular enterprise re-uses all wastes to build more value in the business. A circular enterprise does not simply discard waste, it repurposes it and sells it on as a raw material for another business. If we can gather and collect all our wastes and repurpose them as an input in another business, we will build value in our communities. It is this value that we need to combat poverty and inequality.

A farm is the best illustration of a circular enterprise. To produce food we need manure or fertility in the soils. We often throw away food waste as we think it is dirty or without value. However, this value is what a farmer needs to produce food. Households throw this away, but if we can form a relationship between the farmer and households, both can benefit. By making food waste available to the farmer, we can stimulate higher production. This means food can be sold at lower prices. It will also form a relationship between the farmer and the community, and now the farmer and community can coordinate sales, product design (“Do you want two or three tomatoes today?”).

A circular enterprise is an enterprise that recycles and makes valuable all wastes as inputs in new products or processes in the enterprise. A circular enterprise builds value by mobilising communities in the operations of the enterprise. It builds systems so that nothing goes to waste, and re-purposes all waste so we can create value in the enterprise.

To build a circular enterprise we will focus on the following:

  1. Discover: What is a sustainable and circular enterprise and what opportunities are there to build these?

  2. Create: What resources and opportunities are there to build a circular and sustainable enterprise in the local community?

  3. Develop: Build the systems and circles “Nxazonke” so that your enterprise does not lose any value and builds value for yourself and your customers.

  4. Reflect: Are we able to identify all relevant opportunities? How do we need to develop our products to create a sustainable and circular enterprise? What processes and operations do we need to build, and what can be done better?

  5. Inclusion, trust and stakeholder engagement: How do you prepare the community for your enterprise? How do you “launch” an enterprise? What events and activities can you plan to ensure your enterprise is successful? How do you bring your customers – as the “community” into your enterprise development strategy?

  6. Distribution and logistics: What do you need to do to start sales and distribute your products in the market? What sustainable opportunities are there for you to exploit?

  7. Technology: How to create a technological system in your enterprise that builds and conserves value?

  8. Waste: How to create a waste system that builds value from waste and makes wastes productive?

  9. Energy: How do you trace the flow of energy in your farm or business, and how do you build an energy system that creates and keeps value in your enterprise?

  10. Financial systems: How do you mobilise capital before it is paid to you? How can you develop finance and payment systems that keep your customers loyal and also builds your profits as it builds value for your customers.

  11. Water system: Where are the “leaks” in your water system? How can you use technology, practices and relationships to make water available and conserve it for later use?

  12. Retail system and social media: Can you builds an enterprise using TXT messages? What can you do to build tight relationships with your customers by using TXT and other social media systems?

  13. Reflection and planning for 2023. We will use our insights to kick start next year, and plan for the best.

Readings (Please ‘click the link’)