What You Can Do To Build a New Economy
Saying "no" to economic globalization does not mean ending international exchanges or denying the value of other cultures. Instead, it means creating the space in which sustainable economies can take root and flourish, meeting the needs of people at the local and regional levels.
CHALLENGE "FREE TRADE"
The International Forum on Globalization represents more than 50 organizations in 20 countries concerned about the global economy. The next IFG teach-in will be held in conjunction with the WTO ministerial meeting in Seattle.
PO Box 12218, San Francisco, CA 94112; 415/771-3394
Institute for Trade and Agriculture Policy offers technical assistance to groups addressing economic and ecological issues through seminars, trainings, teleconferences, and on-site consultations. Current projects include working with farmers to develop markets for organic produce and helping landowners develop sustainably harvested wood products and wooded commons.
2105 First Ave. S., Minneapolis, MN 55404; 612/870-3400;
fax: 612/ 870-4846;
Council of Canadians
WRITE-OFF THIRD WORLD DEBT
Jubilee 2000 is an international effort aimed at ending Third World debt. Their petition to end the debts owed by poorer countries is on their Web site for all to sign and circulate.
LEARN ABOUT CORPORATIONS
Worth the effort since 51 of the world's largest economies are corporations.
Corporate Watch provides in-depth information and analysis of corporate actions. Their Web site includes "An Activist's Guide to Research and Campaign on Transnational Corporations."
Public Information Network provides research support to citizens dealing with environmental, economic, and human rights issues. Publishes the "Directory of Transnational Corporations."
At the national level, reducing the influence of corporations on government and cutting taxpayer subsidies for corporations would enable greater democratic control at the local and regional levels.
GET BIG MONEY OUT OF POLITICS
Since the US Congress has thus far failed to enact campaign finance reform, citizens have been taking reform efforts to the states. So far, Maine, Vermont, Massachusetts, and Arizona have all adopted campaign finance reform.
Public Campaign publishes "20 Things You Can Do For Finance Reform," on how to conduct state-by-state ballot initiatives. This guide can also be found on their Web site.
1320 19th Street NW, Apt. M1, Washington, DC 20036;
Friends of the Earth's Green Scissors project works with communities across the country to end corporate subsidies. The "Road to Ruin" targets destructive road projects promoted by the highway lobby, and "Dirty Little Secrets" reports the biggest tax breaks to corporations.
1025 Vermont Ave. NW, Third Floor
Washington, DC 20005-6303
The Program on Corporations, Law & Democracy does research on state chartering mechanisms and corporation codes aimed at changing local laws to nullify corporate privileges and challenging government officials who grant corporations privileges over human rights. POCLAD publishes a newsletter, articles, a resource list, and study circle guidelines, and can link you with local campaigns.
PO Box 246, So., Yarmouth, MA 02664-0246; 508/398-1145
Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund offers A Manual for Revoking Corporate Charters and other related resources.
STRATEGIZE FOR A NEW ECONOMY
Get involved in one of the organizations that is working on shifting our economic foundation:
The Alliance for Democracy is working to end the domination of large corporations and to build local alternative economics.
There's a saying that all politics is local. All economics is actually local, too. An economy draws on a community's knowledge base, ecosystems, infrastructure, goodwill, values, and stability, and provides livelihoods, services, goods,and innovation.
FIND OUT HOW YOU'RE DOING
Indicators are being used by communities as a means to clarify what is important to citizens, and then to track how the community is faring. This tool is an important counter to the use of economic growth as the only indicator of "progress."
Redefining Progress helps local governments and nonprofits set up indicator projects. The Community Indicators Handbook is available for $19.95, and it includes methods of developing indicators, plus an appendix of 100 sets of indicators used around the country.
BUILD ON WHAT YOU'VE GOT
Focus on what you already have that's working, and what you have that couldwork. Look for where there is energy and commitment from people in the community. Look for waste - of natural resources or human talent - that could be turned into resources.
The Institute for Local Self Reliance(ILSR) provides technical assistance and information on environmentally sound economic development strategies that extract the maximum value from local resources.
The Asset Based Community Development Institute (ABCD) publishes Building Communities from the Inside Out: A Path Toward Finding and Mobilizing a Community's Assets (1993) by John Kretzmann & John McKnight, a guide for mapping community resources at the level of the individual, family, association, and formal institution. ABCD also has workbooks on community building tools, faculty available for presentations, and sponsors an electronic discussion group for community builders around the country.
2040 Sheridan Rd., Evanston, IL 60208-4100
CREATE NEW TYPES OF OWNERSHIP
Ownership can take the form of cooperatives, trusts, nonprofits, and municipal ownership, as well as the for-profit business forms that most people think of. For-profit businesses can be structured to be more directly accountable to their workers, customers, and community. Examples of these forms of ownership can be found throughout this issue.
The ICA Group is a national not-for-profit organization that assists those starting worker-owned and community-based businesses.
20 Park Plaza, Ste. 1127
Boston, MA 02116;
National Center for Employee Ownership is a nonprofit organization that provides information on employee stock ownership plans (ESOPs) and on worker cooperatives.
Center for Labor Research assists labor, communities, and business in pursuing the "High Road" of economic development _ a participative and productive economy that enhances social justice.
The National Cooperative Business Association (NCBA) is a national cross-industry membership and trade association representing co-ops of all sizes and in all sectors. NCBA promotes and supports cooperatives in the US and overseas through training and technical assistance publications and programs.
National Center for Social Entrepreneurs provides long-term consulting to help nonprofits link their core mission with marketplace opportunities that will help fund their work.
5801 Duluth St., Suite 310
Minneapolis, MN 55422
Institute for Community Economics helps local groups and low-income communities establish community land trusts for the development of permanently affordable housing.
57 School St., Springfield, MA 01105-1311;
Fax: 413/ 746-8862
KEEP MONEY FLOWING LOCALLY
National Federation of Community Development Credit Unions helps set up local credit unions in low-income areas. They offer manuals on organizing, feasibility studies, on-site training, aid in business planning, and charter applications. All initial information and consulting is free.
The Rocky Mountain Institute provides guides to keeping money circulating locally _ primarily through cutting energy bills. Money spent on electric or gas bills goes straight out of the community, while money spent to weatherize or improve conservation creates local jobs, warms homes, and helps the environment. RMI's The Economic Renewal Guide by Michael Kinsley, The Community Energy Workbook by Alice Hubbard and Clay Fong, and Financing Economic Renewal Projectsby Barbara Cole and Meredith Miller all offer specific steps communities can take toward a more sustainable economic future.
1739 Snowmass Creek Rd. Snowmass, CO 81654
Center for Excellence for Sustainable Development, US Department of Energy offers a list of energy efficiency and renewable energy programs for communities along with information on indicators, success stories, and a course on sustainability indicators you can download from their Web site.
1617 Cole Blvd.
Golden, CO 80401
PRINT YOUR OWN MONEY
The EF Schumacher Society Web site contains a comprehensive list of local currency groups in North America. The Society publishes a quarterly, Local Currency News.
Time Keeper Institute, a national organizer and advocate of Time Dollar exchanges, provides a Time Dollar software package and helps start local Time Dollars systems.
Ithaca Hours, one of the best known local currency groups, sells a Hometown Money Starter Kit ($25) and a video about Ithaca Hours ($15).
c/o Paul Glover, PO Box 6578
Ithaca, NY 14851
GUARD THE COMMONS
Keep streets, sidewalks, parks, aquifers, open space, water, the gene pool, the wilderness, and the sky as resources for the people and living creatures of today and tomorrow.
REPLACE CASH TRANSACTIONS WITH NEIGHBORLINESS.
Form a neighborhood watch network rather than buying an expensive alarm system. Share tools, garden equipment. Have pot-lucks. Exchange child care. Grow fruits and vegetables, and give some away. Exchange space in your house for home care or maintenance. Form a car co-op (see YES! #8, Winter 1998-99, page 56).
MAKE IT VISIBLE
There is much more going on than most people are aware of. Celebrate the successes, even when they seem like small steps. Create a directory of locally owned, stakeholder-owned, and values-driven businesses in your community. Use the business pages of the local newspaper. Sponsor open houses. Give out awards. When people find out that there are alternatives that work, they can begin supporting a new economy.
PERSONAL & FAMILY
One area in which we all can make the shift to a new economy, right away, without waiting for others to join us, is in the choices we make in our own lives.
Co-op America is probably the most comprehensive resource for individuals and businesses to move toward more just and sustainable economics. Co-op America publishesThe National Green Pages , a directory for consumers of green businesses, The Financial Planning Handbook, on managing your money in socially responsible ways, and Boycott News . Business owners can become part of the Co-op America Business Network .
Patronize locally owned businesses, banks, and credit unions. Support local musicians, theatre, restaurants. Buy gifts from local artists. Ask for local produce at the grocery store. Buy from local farmers through farmers markets or a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture).
Community Supported Agriculture of North America offers a list of CSAs by state for $10 each, contact:
Indian Lane Farm, Box 57 Jugend Rd.
Great Barrington, MA 02130
Prairieland CSA's web site offers CSA information as well.
You can buy products directly from producer cooperatives and small, medium-sized businesses from around the world at fair prices.
The Bangor, Maine, based Clean Clothing Campaignoffers technical assistance to fair trade community organizing initiatives and publishesThe Clean Clothes Shopping Guide, which traces labels on items back to their places of origin.
The Fair Trade Federation, an association of wholesalers, retailers, and producers who are committed to providing fair wages and good employment opportunities to artisans and farmers worldwide, offers free guides _ one for consumers and one for retailers _ on where to purchase items that are acquired through fair trade.
The Council on Economic Priorities publishes Shopping for a Better World, a guide to socially-responsible products and corporations.
30 Irving Place
New York, NY 10003
INVEST WITH CARE
The Social Investment Forumis a national nonprofit membership association dedicated to promoting the concept and practice of socially responsible investing.
If you own stock, or if your church or organization owns stock, consider becoming an engaged shareholder.
The Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility provides information on shareholder resolutions and on holding corporations responsible for their actions.
475 Riverside Dr., rm 550
New York, NY 10115
By Alison Roberts, YES! editorial intern and Sarah van Gelder,YES! executive editor. Additional research for this article by Shannon Service and Johanna Zetterberg.
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