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Each day we come into contact with more and more community members and neighbors (of the literal and metaphorical variety) who are involved in conversations and movements centering around alternative, locally-based economies.
In our ongoing search to learn more about the actions, theories, and possibilities behind placed-based economies, we recently discovered the work of economist, historian, and writer Gar Alperovitz. You may recall that we recently posted about his wonderful article “The Rise of the New Economy Movement.” We’re currently reading his 2003 publication, Making a Place for Community: Local Democracy in a Global Era (more on this book in the very near future). In learning more about Alperovitz’s work we learned of the recent conference entitled, “Stratagies for a New Economy.” The conference took place earlier this month at Bard College in rural New York. Thankfully there are numerous resources, videos, and information from the conference, which can be found online here. In future posts we’ll be highlight more of the information.
Hosted by the New Economics Institute (formerly known as the E. F. Schumacher Society of Small is Beautiful fame), the conference set forth these initial questions: What would an economy built on principles of fairness and sustainability look like? How do we model it; where is it emerging; how do we collectively strategize to fully implement it?
The conference brought together community members from all over the U.S. interested in challenging our current economies’ endless desire to consume and grow, focusing instead on models that strengthen local economies, engage in democratic participation and ownership of companies, and champion sharing common spaces.
The Center for the New American Dream (another organization we recently discovered) posted a wonderful overview of the conference in their recent blog posted entitled, “Strategies for a New Economy: 10 Takeaways for All Americans.” To give you a sense of the great information to be found in the overview, we’ve posted two of our favorite quotes below. But these barely skim the surface, so be sure and read the entire post by clicking on the link below.
7. “Local” isn’t just hip and trendy—it really, really matters. If we want to build wealth (of all types) in our communities, then we have to make sure that capital, businesses, and jobs stay local. This means favoring local enterprise over big-box stores, and home towns over “clone towns.” It also means leveraging the largest employers, purchasers, and builders in our communities—like schools, hospitals, and universities—to invest locally. Institutions, as well as individuals, should be rewarded for investing in the communities they serve, not deterred, as they currently often are. Two encouraging models of this type of support are Syracuse’s Near Westside Initiative, a multi-institutional effort to revitalize neighborhoods through the use of art, technology, and innovations, and The Oberlin Project, a systems-oriented effort to create a new, sustainable base for economic and community development in Ohio.
10. The new economy is rising all around us. Farmers’ markets. Car sharing. B Corporations. Impact investing. Barter networks. The sharing economy. Community supported agriculture. Local currencies. Worker-owned cooperatives. Local investment clubs. Heard of any of these? The reality is that the new economy, boosted by 21st-century communications and other technologies, is everywhere we look. America is awash with new models of wealth creation, new institutions, new ideas, and new cultural patterns—and together, it adds up to something significant. Certainly, there is much work to be done. But it’s clear that our local economies and communities wouldn’t be as strong as they are today without the incredible models of cooperation and resource sharing that are now emerging at all levels, taking people from hopelessness to hope. Click here to read the original post.
Over the next few weeks we’ll be posting more about some of the key organizations involved in this conference, so stay tuned for that.
We’d ove to hear from you. Were you at the conference? Even if you were not there, what do you think about the take aways as listed by the Center for the New American Dream? Do these ideas ring true to you? And tell us what’s happening where you are!