As ‘our grand economic experiment’ has demonstrably failed to serve people and planet, New Economics members in America have begun to readjust and re-experiment. Citizens organized in neighbourhoods, cities, and small towns, are working together to create new economic forms that support an emerging new economy.
PBS NewsHour has aired a report on BerkShares, a local currency in the Berkshire region of Massachusetts that helps citizens identify and engage with independent local businesses that are the backbone of their local economy. In September, BerkShares will celebrate its 7th Anniversary.
Gar Alperovitz, who will speak at another event, is a spokesperson for new enterprises incorporating worker ownership and management in their structure, rebalancing priorities by serving the interests of workers and their place-based communities over the interests of global capital. In so doing, they are modelling characteristics of the future American economy—distinctive for being neither corporate capitalism nor state socialism.
Judy Wicks, leading another event, is active in the movement for the renewal of local economies and the promotion of diversity among the small businesses that make up those economies. Her White Dog Café taught her how to build alliances of mutual support. She used those lessons to shape the principles of Business Alliance for Local Living Economies (BALLE).
Two of the initiatives listed caught the writer’s eye:
The Agrarian Trust helps sustainable next-generation farmers access land. Land access is a challenge for beginning farmers, particularly those coming from a non-agricultural background as land costs are at an all-time historical high as a result of real estate values, speculator/ investment pressure, high crop prices. Good legal and financial counsel, affordable credit for capitalization, affordable land, and housing nearby the farm.
The central principle motivating the work of the Community Land Trust is that homes, barns, fences, gardens, and all things done with or on the land should be owned by individuals, but the land itself is a limited community resource that should be owned by the community as a whole. The CLT makes possible the community ownership of land.
The New Economics message ends:
At this critical juncture in the re-visualizing of the American economy, alliances are forming. Single-issue organizing is a thing of the past. We need to celebrate and leverage transformation wherever it is occurring, region by region, neighborhood by neighborhood, green business by green business, grassroots group by grassroots group. Much is at stake”.