Proposal: buying mats for Athletic Community Action Birmingham

@Lai and I would like to propose that we use our funds to support the sports training some of us are organising with Athletic Community Action Birmingham.

Decision size: large, maximum consensus sought (see

Proposed change:
Currently there are no funded Cooperation Birmingham projects, which limits our opportunities to use our collective resources to bring more people into the movement and achieve our goals. We have funds of around £2,400 raised from members’ contributions which is sat unused in the Open Collective.

Weekly martial arts classes have been independently run by some CB organisers for the past 3ish years under the Punch Up banner. These have not only been a successful way of networking the local left and bringing new people into the community but also provided safe grassroots sports throughout the pandemic. The national & international red gym movement has created great opportunities to meet and work with more far-flung comrades.

We propose that we give £980 to Athletic Community Action Birmingham to buy mats for martial arts training. This will greatly increase the number of people who can safely train at once. Currently the capacity with 25sqm of mats is approx 8 people; the new mats would increase it to 56sqm to accommodate about 18 people.
We also propose that greater integration is developed between ACAB and CB in order to make grassroots sport a key part of CB’s focus going forward. While martial art training (the weekly Punch Up sessions) is ACAB’s main focus at the moment we should try to expand this to other sports to increase its popularity.

Who is affected:
This will take a chunk out of our reserves but still leave us with good emergency funds. The purchase will mostly benefit the people who are already involved in Punch Up but there is a standing invitation for any CB members to come and train.

Timescale for decision:
We propose 2 weeks to discuss the motion and reach a final proposal by Saturday 27th Monday 29th, followed by a week to take votes for a decision by the 4th 6th December.

edit: poll closed, results:


Thanks for putting this proposal up.

I’m fine with this in principle but it seems like a direct grant and it’s not clear how CB will be related to ACAB going forward. I think a donation of around a 1/3 of all of our pot would be worth making Punch up directly a project of CB and aiming to have a shared membership - for instance this could a subcription to CB allowed access to the gym and a % of rent is covered on going. I would much prefer an arrangement like that which would mutually benefit both organisations than a direct grant (or in addition to).

Also kind of unavoidable side point but this volume of plastic foam makes me a bit sad - is it possible to buy these second hand at all?

I 100% agree in principle and hope that is what we end up with (I plan to propose something similar at the gym AGM). However as it’s an autonomous project with a (partly) separate membership the push for integration has to come from the ACAB end.

PS I did look occasionally for s/h mats when we were first getting them, but they were usually more expensive and we would have to go collect as well. Plus I’m still not certain how intercompatible different brands of mat are (as far as connecting them goes)

1 Like

Okay, the discussion time is over so I’ve made a poll for the vote

Have been thinking about this and made some enquiries. Will update if I hear more :slight_smile: currently voting against until I have ruled out any eco alternatives… I’m not against the whole proposal though.

Vote now changed to supporting, Am quitekeen on the integration and will mention/be supporting it at ACAB agm - think we need to come back to and drill down into how autonomy relates to overarching projects more, especially given the fall out with Sol Cafe. Personally I would like some sort of federal model with guiding principles that would prevent co-optation of projects but also lend them support from the greater collective - as we are doing here.

Here’s the mats response email. Bit of a gap in the market that even these aikido black belt wool merchants haven’t solved seemingly!

Hi Sean

*Thanks for your email. *

We were in a similar position ourselves with mats as we had a dojo in Manchester that we were kitting out and wanted an eco alternative to all the plastic / foam mats that we had used in the past. Sadly we couldn’t come up with an alternative, the fillings and materials we use just weren’t hardwearing or dense enough for martial arts activity and we didn’t feel that we could make anything with a safe or long lasting enough surface that would also be practical to clean and could be easily moved and stored. We did consider traditional woven tatami mats, but they are quite heavy, so I don’t think they would be suitable. There may also be a fire retardancy issue if they are going to be used / stored in a public place.

I know that some yoga mats are made from recycled plastic or even cork, so could that be something to look at?

Nice that you’re trying to look for an alternative to all that plastic, let us know if you find anything!

Best wishes


Dojo EcoShop

I am favour of this ofc.

Belated update: poll is closed, proposal was approved. Will coordinate getting the pads in the New Year when we can get them delivered to the venue