An outline of Findhorn’s local/social economy

An outline of Findhorn’s local/social economy
From a long term resident
July 2013

The headline population statistics about the Findhorn peninsula are straightforward. According to SCROL, at the 2001 census there were 434 households and a total resident population of 885. However this is an unusual part of Scotland and in order to understand the relatively high proportion of social enterprises it may be helpful to grasp the distinctions between:

* The Findhorn Foundation – an intentional community and charitable trust.
* The ‘wider’ Ecovillage community of organisations and individuals associated with and including the above.
* The local community, few of whom seek such an affiliation.
 – even if these distinctions are sometimes not at all clear cut.

Social enterprises can be hard to define with precision, and the following list is therefore tentative. Those active in Findhorn include:

Findhorn Dunes Trust – a land trust that owns property adjacent to the village;
Findhorn Heritage Centre – a small museum located in an ice house;
Findhorn Village Centre – a ‘Community Resource Centre’;
Findhorn Parish Church;
Findhorn Residents’ Association;
James Milne Institute – the local village hall;
The Findhorn Foundation – a charitable trust;
New Findhorn Directions Ltd. (the Findhorn Foundation’s wholly-owned trading subsidiary);
Findhorn Foundation College, an educational charity that runs accredited education courses (and as the name implies it has close links with the Findhorn Foundation itself);
Ecologia Youth Trust – a charity that supports disadvantaged young people on an international basis;
Ekopia Resource Exchange Ltd., a community benefit co-operative and development trust;
Moray Art Centre, an arts charity;
New Findhorn Association, an unincorporated body that co-ordinates many joint activities of the Ecovillage project;
Park Ecovillage Trust, a charity that owns some affordable housing;
Phoenix Community Stores Ltd. – the Ecovillage retail outlet;
Trees for Life, an environmental charity;
Wild things! an environmental charity that works with young people in Scotland.

There are therefore about 25 households per social enterprise. There are numerous other bodies that might, by some definitions, qualify as a social enterprise, such as the various sports clubs, Station House Co-operative, a "fully mutual" housing co-op, Findhorn and Kinloss LETS, and Findhorn Wind Park Ltd., a trading company that is owned by a charity, a bona fide co-op and a community benefit co-op. Duneland Ltd is a property development company that is a private ltd. company but which has placed a strict limit on shareholder dividends with the balance being made available to support socially worthwhile projects. There are also various voluntary groups.

The first few names on the list are rooted in the traditional/local community. However the bulk of these social enterprises are to a significant extent the result of the growth of the Ecovillage community. A 2002 study undertaken for Moray Badenoch and Strathspey Enterprise estimated that the Ecovillage supported approximately 300 full-time equivalent jobs in the Findhorn / Forres area and provided about £3.8 million in household income within Moray. The subsequent global financial crisis and the closure of RAF Kinloss in 2011 (the base is now a smaller army barracks) notwithstanding, there is every reason to suppose that this community’s economic impact in the local area is now greater than it was then. Estimates vary but (for example) there are now over 650 adult names in the Ecovillage telephone directory and at least 40 community organisations and businesses.

The inter-relationships between all these different bodies are hard to describe, and occasionally controversial, but this diversity brings strength to the local economy and a richness to social and economic life.