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A Design for Degrowth

The authors of a new zine, 'Degrowth in Manchester', told Now Then about their motivations and inspirations.

In July 2019, Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA) declared a climate emergency. We were all blindly wallowing in the throes of carbon excess, treating polluting habits as human rights rather than privileges to be called in sparingly. A year later, during the months of state-imposed restraint, we could hear birds singing through urban streets, the air felt fresher, and people were engaging with their local communities.

As we emerge from a year of life in a pandemic, it's high time to be considering what the new normal will look like, and how much of the business as usual we want or need, and vice versa. Should we return to the gluttony of growth, or strip back once again to a more sustainable existence?

Responding to the social, environmental and economic challenges of our times, the degrowth movement had been gaining momentum even before COVID-19 took hold, and students Neriya and Maddy sought to share its vision of a responsible future more widely via an online zine. We asked the pair about the zine, its content, and their motivations for creating it.

How did you first learn about degrowth?

Since our teens, we have both been involved in various climate activist groups. However it wasn’t until university, studying geography and PPE, where we were introduced to the concept of degrowth. We both were drawn to degrowth as it facilitated our critiques of an economic system based on constant growth, and a framework through which to address both the pressing social and ecological issues we face.

What gave you the idea to develop the zine?

Initial ideas for the degrowth zine came from our involvement with the four-month programme, Resist!, led by the International Falcon Movement, Socialist Education International. This international programme is all about climate change and intersectionality, where training each month is accompanied by funding from the European Youth Foundation to create a community based project. The first month was specifically about anti-capitalism and the climate crisis, so we agreed it was a great time to create a zine about degrowth, and what a degrowth system means in Manchester, the city where we have been studying for three years.

Who else was involved in creating it?

We worked with a Manchester based artist, Josie Tothill, who created amazing art inspired by parts of the city. This included using old maps and well as incorporating art about modernity. This combination of Manchester's history and the future is how we conceive degrowth to be and the incorporation of art within our work was something new but incredibly exciting for us.

Who do you hope will read the zine?

We wanted to make the zine as accessible as possible for different demographics. In part, the project was aimed at the university community, a demographic which has become increasingly frustrated with the marketisation of education and academia. Also, this zine is aimed towards the general public who are looking for solutions to address the flaws in the economic system as well as governmental failures regarding the climate crisis.

What can readers expect?

We tried to tackle the many misconceptions surrounding degrowth in the zine as well as providing small practical things that people can get involved with or read about to learn more. We hope that by creating this zine, people will not only learn about degrowth as a concept, but also show how acts or organisations of degrowing the economy are already occurring in Manchester and hopefully it will encourage more people to join.

Learn more

You can read the Resist! Degrowth zine online here:

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