Growing the local economy

The men and women of the United States were once builders of boats, weavers

of fabric, turners of pots, crafters of furniture, keepers of bees,

operators of mills, welders of steel, creators of new technologies, and in

general makers of the goods used in America .  Entranced by the doctrine of

efficiency of scale, bulging corporations merged, closed plants, moved

production outside the U.S. , and effected a loss of regional manufacturing

skills. 

 

We have skipped a generation in the continuity of these skills, but they are

still in our cultural memory.  Our grandfathers and grandmothers even now

relate stories of the local seamstress, butcher, mechanic, mason, distiller,

logger, and how together they shaped the complexity of the community.  The

processes of production were more visible, and young people aspired to fill

those positions.

 

To build stable regional economies in the U.S. and create an example for

sustainable development in other countries will require regaining dying

skills, especially in production of the basic necessities of food, clothing,

shelter, and energy.  It will mean rebuilding a manufacturing

infrastructure, re-establishing technical schools, and recommitting to the

purchase of locally made goods.  Jane Jacobs used the phrase "import

replacement" when describing this strategy‹smaller batches, more jobs, less

transportation, greater complexity, without more goods.  A sound goal for a

new economy.

 

In their report "The Great Transition" our London partners at the New

Economics Foundation (neweconomics.org) identify re-skilling the work force

as a priority for achieving a diverse and sustainable economy (see text at

end of this email).

 

This is the fifth in a series of emails from the New Economics Institute

(NEI) drawing on the work of the New Economics Foundation (nef).  NEI

emerged in 2010, building on the thirty-year history of the E. F. Schumacher

Society in the Berkshires region of Massachusetts with especially close ties

to nef in the UK .   The New Economics Institute also looks forward to

introducing its friends to the work and thinking of members of NEI's

extraordinary Board of Directors, its Advisory Board, and others who seek to

bring about a socially and environmentally just and sustainable world.

 

At this juncture we especially want to mention Tellus Institute in Boston ,

Massachusetts , whose core mission is "Advancing the transition to a

sustainable, equitable, and humane global civilization — a Great

Transition." This work began in 1995, and since 2005 has been the central

theme of Tellus.  We encourage you to visit their website,

http://www.tellus.org/programs/greattransitioninitiative.html.

 

Best wishes,

Susan Witt and Stephan Crown-Weber

Berkshire Office and Library

New Economics Institute

140 Jug End Road

Great Barrington , MA 01230

www.neweconomicsinstitute.org

 

Board of Directors: Gar Alperovitz, Jessica Brackman, Eric Harris-Braun,

John Fullerton, Neva Goodwin, Hildegarde Hannum, Dan Levinson, Richard

Norgaard, David Orr, Will Raap, Gus Speth, Peter Victor, and Stewart Wallis.

Advisory Board: Peter Barnes, Merrian Fuller, Bill McKibben, Otto Scharmer,

Doug Tompkins, and Robert Wade.

*****************************************

"The Great Re-skilling continues the emphasis on re-localization, starting

from the position that greater local production will require us to relearn

many skills that have been forgotten. From agriculture to manufacturing to

the provision of local finance, returning to appropriate scale means

equipping ourselves with the means to do so. Becoming less passive in terms

of consumption and production we will start to regain our autonomy, which

will extend to culture and arts, where we see the beginning of a

life-enhancing renaissance. This is not the case only for the economy and

for the arts, however; local decision-making based on active participation

will be most effective when people are well informed about what makes their

local economy tick and what makes public services able to achieve the best

outcomes. Achieving consensus requires as full an understanding of these

issues as possible."

 

To read the full report go to:

http://neweconomicsinstitute.org/content/nef-publications

Posted in Economic and Human Rights