Meet The Fellows: Jules Bagnoli

Jules Bagnoli (bottom Left) with the Village Greens team

We’ve been getting out and about meeting and skyping with North West Fellows. Recently we met caught up with local social entrepreneur, Jules Bagnoli who considers a deindustrial revolution for Manchester and dinner with royalty… find out more…

Where are you based currently in the NW?

Manchester, within hearing distance of an Old Trafford goal.

What’s your background and what do you currently do professionally?

I’m an industrial marketeer who’s adult food obsession started with a dangerously generous late eighties expense account in London. A decade on from selling commodities as diverse as Italian wool to China and Texan fibre-optics to Taiwan, I retrained as a chef and opened an ‘authentic’ regional Italian restaurant with my Venetian ex-husband.  I realised the limit to the integrity of imported cuisines, and opened the first local, seasonal restaurant in Manchester in 2004, thereby becoming an unwitting environmentalist and food campaigner.

Jules (centre) at Cracking Good Food Event

What social actions are you passionate about?

Re-engineering physical infrastructure to the same things with less fossil fuelled resources. Mitigating the emotional damage from highly abrasive forms of economic change before it becomes an engrained social problem. Getting good, simple food on plates. Growing up I played in the overgrown ruins of Arkwrights Mill, and I think Manchester can lead the world in how to decline as well as grow economically, without accepting the residue of poor health and social inequality. We started an Industrial Revolution and now need a DeIndustrial Revolution for real prosperity.

What social action projects are you involved in and how could other fellows get involved?

I’m on the Board of Village Greens, a community coop of 280 members who’ve raised £67,000 from their own pockets to sell fresh, affordable food in North Manchester. As of end January 2014 the team are a third of the way to achieving their new fundraising target so any contribution of Fellow’s time, money or skill could be critical to opening the shop doors before we lose the space.

When did you become a fellow and who or what motivated you to join?

Over a year ago.  In permaculture, they say change happens where there’s a lot of ‘edge’, and I feel that the RSA attracts people negotiating all scales of change for all manner of clients and organisations. It’s where a conversation can happen without immediate mental walls.

How have you been involved to date – locally or nationally? Is there anything else you’d like to be more involved in?

I worked on Gunter Pauli’s Blue Economy conference, led Slow Food locally and campaigned for the Sustainable Restaurant Association. Cooking from skip-dived or otherwise land-filled ingredients to raise awareness of food waste. Or putting on fully local vegan menus at festivals off-season – that’ll be kale. I’d like to get involved in designing a closed-loop hub to get more local food onto shop shelves – it’s fallen from 80% in the 1950s to less than 1% now, making us all more vulnerable to climate and economic food shocks.

If you woke up suddenly one morning and you could gain a new skill, what would it be?

Graphic, social media and web design. Being able to express an idea is an art form alright.

If you could have dinner with a social change agent or social enterpreneur, living or dead, who would it be, why and what would you eat?

Prince Charles, father of the UK organic food movement. And Camilla, the McCartney to his Lennon. I’d hope the Highgrove Estate could cough up some biodynamic greens and grass-fed lamb. I could pick some delicate peashoots raised by Refarming Ltd under low-energy LED lights in the prototype hydroponic farm recently part-funded by the RSA NW Venture Fund.

What RSA NW activities would you like to see happen?

How can Fellows collaborate or socialise more? Is there a social space, a hub we can drop in around the NW? London is a bit far to go for a brew. I’d love a small library in town, with something as simple as a donated kettle, that would reduce the contribution to Starbucks profits that Fellows make (though not tax, naturally).

To explore how you can get involved in RSA NW activities and be profiled on the blog, get in touch.

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