Hello there, and welcome to my blog. This is a space where I share ideas that I come across when writing my PhD. As my first entry, I’d like to introduce myself and what you can expect from this blog. I’d love to hear who you are, so feel free to introduce yourself in the comments section. 

Who am I?

I’m Ella, a PhD student at the University of Sheffield. My research interests are alternative economic practices, democratic politics, commons and commoning, co-operatives and prefigurative politics. I’m funded by the ESRC and Grantham Centre for Sustainable Futures. Alongside my PhD, I’m a trustee at Sheffield Students’ Union and a student rep at the White Rose DTP. 

How did I get here?

During my undergraduate degree I got involved in Coexist CIC, an organisation that aims to provide space for the community for collaboration and to be together in an increasingly expensive city. At the time, they were based in Hamilton House, a vast five storey building in Stokes Croft, Bristol. I volunteered on the front desk and saw how questions of who gets to decide how the space was used, and how they could operate in a way that wasn’t gentrifying, playing out each day. I was struck by the way that Coexist CIC existed alongside the profit-driven spaces of the city, yet organised by their own principles of collective coexistence. This inspired my PhD project, which asks how alternative economic practices can transform the economy in a democratic way. 

After taking a bit of time out of education and working in charities and student unions, I applied for a PhD at the University of Sheffield and received ESRC funding for my project Democratic Politics for Community Economies.  

Photo from Hamilton House reception, 2015 (Author’s own).

What am I going to talk about?

In this blog, I am going to write about ideas that I come across while writing my PhD. It will be a mix of discussions on different theoretical approaches and writing about the projects and organisations that are engaging with alternative economic practices on the ground. I want to take these ideas out of universities and journals and into spaces where we can talk about them together, so please get involved in the comments with your thoughts and ideas and feedback. 

Thanks for joining me!

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