Hackney Changemakers: Doug Racionzer

Hackney Cooperative Developments have been here several decades, trying to keep commercial rents affordable so that existing business owners can stay where they have established themselves and, often, where they live. They are closely involved with the council on the Hackney Social Enterprise Borough initiative and this is how I met Sophie Higgins (see previous entry) and also Doug.

Doug is a little larger than life and he’s not afraid to think big. I’ve wanted to get him on here for a while. So over to him to hear about one of his side projects. Perhaps as shoppers, ethical consumption is one of our easiest yet most powerful tools to ensure that a hugely unequal world is just a little bit fairer?

“Back in 1986 I lived in a squat in Hackney Wick, in Cadogan Terrace overlooking Victoria Park. In those days I had just left South Africa for what turned out to be nine years of exile from Apartheid and the South African military and was part of a small group of South Africans who formed the Council of South African War Resisters [link added by SC here].

Hackney in the 1980’s was very different to what we know today. I got a day job delivering school meals for the Greater London Council and I worked waking-night duties in various childrens’ homes.

In 2018, over thirty years later, I found myself back in Hackney but this time supporting social enterprises in the borough and globally. I work at Hackney Cooperative Developments as the social enterprise development manager offering social entrepreneurs coaching, training and networking amongst other things.

My work at HCD gives me opportunities to spend weekends on one of my side-hussles which is an effort to transform the global mining industry called the Prieska Protocol offering ethical gemstones for sale in London. It has been slow going with a lot of detours and blind alleys.

In 2014 a group of us set-up the Prieska Protocol in South Africa to change the exploitation that many artisanal miners experience, sharing the value of the final selling price fairly across the entire supply chain for semi-precious gemstones.

I am still looking for good retail outlets and even through this COVID 19 craziness, I have managed to find two good shopkeepers who sell gemstones. I am looking for at least 50! Should you know of anybody willing to come on this ethical adventure with us, contact me on douglas@racionzer.net.

If you want to know more about Hackney Changemakers like Doug, or get involved, come on an exploration and find out how we CAN change the world.

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