This blog was written in the context of the T-Learning initiative as a reflection on activities taken forward in 2017.
By Cristina Temmink
Lekkernassuh, meaning ‘good munching’ in a city dialect that is only spoken in The Hague, The Netherlands, was introduced as a name and concept in March 2014. It all began with one woman who started buying fruit and vegetables from local organic farmers and gardeners and selling them directly to consumers. Since then, Lekkernassuh has been on an extraordinary journey towards a ‘fair, local, sustainable and community-based food system’.
It took some years for a community to grow around this initiative. Today, the community comprises roughly 2500 people of which 800 are registered as members and 200 fetch a weekly vegetable package. We hold the vision and inherent values of a ‘fair, local, sustainable food system’ as our guide, without a clear plan or ultimate outcome in mind. This state of ‘not knowing’ keeps us alert, open, and reflective, and stimulates continuous learning.
We consider the social component of our work at Lekkernassuh to be the most important, recognising that all societal systems are made up of our own ideas and values and shaped by our behaviours. If we want to contribute to societal transformation, we need to create ‘transformative spaces’ where we start to ‘model’ and embody what these larger societal transformations could look like; spaces in which creativity flourishes and new ideas come to life. Lao Tse’s quote “Nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished” guides us in this approach. Many of the people drawn to Lekkernassuh have experienced, in one way or another, their creativity being crushed in spaces with unhealthy competition – where stress, judgement and a constant sense of ‘hurry’ leads to quick decision making, shortcuts and collateral damage. Lekkernassuh is an attempt to honour the complexity we are dealing with by slowing down and adjusting to nature’s pace. It is an attempt to pay attention to our personal and collective capacities and experiences as we experiment with alternatives, and to make them explicit.
We are carrying out two major experiments in the way we organize internally at Lekkernassuh: the creation of a horizontal organisational structure, inspired by holacracy, and the integration of a community currency called Timebank.cc
Structurally, we organise ourselves in circles; each circle focuses on a different domain of work, such as administration, buying products, hosting the market, and communication. All circles- their members, domains, and tasks- are made visible to the broader community so that anyone who wants to engage can easily do so, and empty spaces can be spotted. Each circle has a facilitator who serves as the main contact person and maintains the connection with the other circles. Most decisions are decentralised; people are invited and encouraged to make their own judgements and decide when others need to be consulted.
Up to this point, Lekkernassuh has functioned under the formal umbrella of the Local Food The Hague Foundation. However, we now feel we have reached the maturity and strength to be financially and legally independent and so are in the process of registering as a formal entity, most likely a cooperative association. Doing so will enable us to apply for and receive funding to support our activities and learning processes. In order to become a legal entity, a board has been formed. The new board members are very inspired by the vision of Lekkernasshuh and seem to understand the challenge to support and protect the self-organising, organic structure and functioning of Lekkernassuh, rather than to control it. During the last board meeting they defined their role as ‘being the backbone of the organisation and maintaining external contacts (for licences, taxes, subsidies, PR) while staying in tune with its internal life, but with minimal intervention or facilitation.’
Overall, Lekkernassuh seems to have matured enough in terms of its capacity to ‘scale deep’ and ‘seed change from within’ to hold the space when focusing more outwards in the coming year. How exactly this will evolve and how the internal changes and deep learning will contribute to broader change in the food system will be our focus in 2018.
The Timebank experiment has involved integrating Timebank into the organisation of Lekkernassuh so that Timebank hours can be used as a means of payment to buy food at the market. Hours can be earned by working on the market, contributing to one or more of the organisational circles, and/or participating in the wider Timebank community. Timebank.cc was created to supplement the Euro, not fully replace it. It facilitates cooperation by enabling exchanges based on time rather than conventional money, where one Timebank hour equals one hour of work and everyone’s time is equally valued. Similar to Lekkernassuh, Timebank.cc is an open community; anyone is welcome to join. It has an online platform which works like any online bank in that one can digitally transfer hours from one user to another user.