Why meet in the Friends' Meeting House?

Some people may be wondering why the first Green Enterprise Community meetings are in the Friends Meeting House. 

Well, there are 3 basic reasons.  Firstly, it’s a venue that’s easy for Cambridge people to get to, whether by bike, or for those who have to come by car. Secondly, it’s not too expensive: an important consideration for a not-for-profit community group that currently has no money and no idea how many people will come. 

The third reason is perhaps the most significant.  The Quakers, (or Religious Society of Friends to give them
their proper name) were inspiring 17th Century examples of successful entrepreneurs  and innovators who were driven by a social ethos that many at the time found odd. Cadbury’s chocolates,  Rowntree, Clarks shoes, Wedgewood china and Quaker Oats were all founded by Quakers.

Excluded from politics and the professions because of their non-conformist beliefs, many went into business but, just as with many green entrepreneurs, their businesses were guided by their ethical principles.  For example, they believed in the importance of trustworthiness so, even though at the time bargaining and  cheating was a normal part of business, Quaker businessmen pioneered the idea of setting fair fixed prices.  They were initially derided, but started getting more than their share of business because customers realised they liked not having to worry about being cheated, and so the principle spread.
Because they thought slavery was wrong, they refused to own slaves or buy the products of slavery even though it would have been more profitable to have done so. Many also played a pioneering role in the campaign for the abolition of the slave trade.

I find this an inspiring parallel with today. I meet many people who are driven by a green ethos: they feel that it’s morally wrong to trash the planet for all of humanity, but are also interested in business.  Some are in a position to set up their own businesses, others are more interested in working in organizations that understand and support the green ethos. Many are also campaigning on climate change, or helping in other ways with the transition to a low carbon society.

The aim of Green Enterprise Community is to bring together people who think like this, so we can build a creative, supportive and collaborative community and help each other achieve our aims.

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