As the old economy crumbles, people across the country are building a new one. Based on new forms of money, democratic finance, and business, the new economy is about increasing the quality of life, improving health, and restoring the environment. The Summer 2009 issue of YES!, The New Economy, takes a look at the people and organizations who are creating this Earth-friendly and people-centered economy.
Here are some resources that inspired YES! during the production of this issue.
:: TOOLS & RESOURCES
Forget Wall Street. The new economy is all about creating real, sustainable wealth. These organizations can help you jump-start the new economy by promoting change in your workplace, at home, or in Washington.
ACORN (Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now) organizes low- and middle-income families in the United States, Canada, and Latin America to work for economic and social justice in their communities. Read about its campaigns on home foreclosures, predatory lending, unfair tax fees, affordable housing, and a living wage, and learn how to organize in your community. www.acorn.org
- The American Independent Business Alliance (AMIBA) raises awareness of the benefits of buying from independent businesses and helps bring businesses together to engage in collaboration, advocacy, exchanges, and transactions. www.amiba.net
Bainbridge Graduate Institute offers pioneering MBA and certificate programs in sustainable business and entrepreneurship using a combination of distance teaching and monthly on-site intensives. www.bgiedu.org
BALLE (The Business Alliance for Local Living Economies) supports and encourages independent businesses all over North America that contribute to socially, environmentally, and culturally respectful economies. Judy Wicks, author of the articles “My Best Investments Are Down the Street” (Summer 2009) and “In Business for Life,” (Winter 2007), is a co-founder. Michael Shuman, author of “Put Your Money Where Your Life Is,” (Summer 2009) leads the Balle project, the Small-Mart Initiative. www.livingeconomies.org
The Center for Economic and Policy Research is a think tank that promotes democratic debate about important economic and social policy issues that affect people's lives. Its website offers up-to-date information on political news and economic policy. www.cepr.net
Common Security Clubs are local groups of about 15 to 25 individuals who assemble to learn about larger economic issues and brainstorm about how they can solve their own local and individual economic problems through this mutual support system. Find a club in your area at www.commonsecurityclub.org
Community Wealth provides information, strategies, policies, models, and innovations for building community economies. www.community-wealth.org
- Ecotrust supports sustainable economic development in the Pacific Northwest. The organization has developed an economic model that integrates social, financial, and natural capital into a “Conservation Economy.” www.conservationeconomy.net
- Grassroots Economic Organizing produces a bimonthly newsletter that provides information on efforts to build and finance worker-owned, democratically run, community based, ecologically sustainable enterprises. www.geo.coop
Green America: Economic Action For a Just Planet provides resources for businesses or individuals who want to move toward more just and sustainable economies through purchasing and investment. The organization publishes The National Green Pages, a directory of sustainable businesses. www.coopamerica.org
Green for All is a national organization, founded by YES! contributing editor Van Jones, working toward an inclusive green economy strong enough to lift people out of poverty. Its campaigns have helped create green jobs in communities across the country. The Green For All Academy trains young people from disadvantaged backgrounds to acquire the intellectual, social, and financial capital they need to succeed in the green economy. Check out Green for All’s resources to get involved in your community. www.greenforall.org
- InBusiness Magazine publishes success stories about local independent and sustainable businesses. www.inbusiness.org
- The Institute for Local Self Reliance is a non-profit research organization that promotes sustainable communities by investigating ways to improve economic and environmental conditions. The “New Rules Project” highlights local communities that have rewritten rules, policies, and public subsidies to encourage locally controlled sustainable economies. www.ilsr.org
The Institute for Policy Studies is a think-tank and advocacy organization that provides research and education on a broad range of issues, including labor rights, fair trade, sustainable economies, and globalization. www.ips-dc.org
The National Cooperative Business Association is the nation's leading cooperative advocacy group, comprising co-ops from all over the world. It offers programs on public policy, lobbying, business development, and education for cooperative businesses. The group also provides job listings for co-ops and great networking tools. Their flagship publication is the Cooperative Business Journal. www.ncba.coop
- The National Priorities Project shows how our tax dollars are being spent, and what would become possible if the same amounts of money were reallocated to human and community development. Stats available by state and sector. www.nationalpriorities.org
- On the Commons (formerly Tomales Bay Institute) is a leading think tank that promotes public awareness of the resources and institutions our society holds in common—such as the environment, water, knowledge, government, schools, and communities—through blogs, essays, book reviews, and profiles of activists. www.onthecommons.org
- Public Citizen protects public health and safety by holding government accountable to consumer interests. The organization focuses on environmental standards, health, and fair trade. Check out the action items and the vast list of consumer resources. www.citizen.org
Redefining Progress is a leading public policy think tank focused on building a sustainable economy. www.rprogress.org
The E.F. Schumacher Society, named for the author of Small Is Beautiful, uses its resource library, lectures, programs, and projects to promote regionally based economic systems, local currency experiments, human-scale societies, and community land trusts. www.smallisbeautiful.org
- Slow Money takes its inspiration from the pioneering work of Woody Tasch. A network of leaders in sustainable agriculture and social investing, the group aims to help create a new economy based on conservation, preservation, and sustainability, instead of extraction and consumption. www.slowmoneyalliance.org
- Small-Mart led by Michael Shuman, is a collection of resources, a blog, and a campaign that together promote opportunities for local businesses and community self-reliance. Small-Mart is a project of BALLE. www.smallmart.org
- The Social Investment Forum is a nonprofit association of groups and individuals working to promote socially and environmentally reponsible investing. www.socialinvest.org
- Sustainable Connections is a group based in Bellingham, Washington that supports the “Go Local” movement and asks businesses to show their appreciation by adopting more sustainable practices. www.sconnect.org
United for a Fair Economy heightens awareness of economic inequality and its ability to divide communities and undermine democracy. Its website includes tools for leading workshops, starting campaigns, and taking action. www.faireconomy.org
- U.S. Federation of Worker Cooperatives is a network of organizations dedicated to the advancement of democracy and partnership in the workplace, and the growth and development of worker cooperatives. www.usworker.coop
Finance & Banks:
As larger financial institutions continue to fail in the aftermath of the mess they created, these organizations pass YES!'s stress test.
Common Good Finance seeks to create small, local, democratic, banks that invest in the common good. Get involved at www.commongoodbank.com
- Credit Union National Association is a national network of credit unions, each governed locally by its members. Use the network to find a credit union in your local area. www.cuna.org
- Grameen Bank helps reduce poverty and empower the people of the global South through microcredit loans. www.grameen-info.org
Hope Community Credit Union is a community development financial institution (CDFI) that helps low-income individuals build and rebuild through microcredit loans. www.hopecu.org
The Institute for Community Economics (ICE) provides technical assistance and financing to community land trusts and those working to produce and preserve affordable housing, land, and other resources in communities where they are most needed. ICE's revolving loan fund accepts contributions from socially concerned individuals and makes low-cost loans available to nonprofit housing groups. www.iceclt.org
- The National Community Reinvestment Coalition works to keep credit and banking services available in neighborhoods, particularly low-income communities.
The Reinvestment Fund, launched in Philadelphia and described by Judy Wicks in her article, “My Best Investments Are Down the Street” (Summer 2009), now serves communities all over the Mid-Atlantic. A socially responsible alternative to the stock market, The Reinvestment Fund brings modest financial returns to investors and huge social returns to communities by supporting schools, housing, social services, clean energy, and small businesses. Find out how to invest your money in what really matters. www.trfund.com
- Self-Help is a community development lender that has provided over $5.57 billion in financing to over 62,288 home buyers, small businesses, and nonprofits. Self-Help reaches people who are underserved by conventional lenders—particularly minorities, women, rural residents, and low-wealth families—through the support of socially responsible citizens and institutions across the U.S. www.selfhelp.org
Forget the Fed—these alternative currencies help local economies instead.
- BerkShares are a local currency for the Berkshire region. A tool for community empowerment, more than 350 businesses have signed up to accept the currency. www.berkshares.org
Humboldt Exchange Community Currency Humboldt Exchange Community Currency is the local currency project of Humboldt County, California. Individual participants agree to accept payment for their goods and services half in dollars and half in a local currency made just for Humboldt. www.humboldtexchange.org
Ithaca Hours are a local currency in Ithaca, New York. One Ithaca Hour is comparable to a $10.00 bill, which is the average hourly wage in Tompkins County. The currency can be used to buy plumbing, carpentry, electrical work, roofing, nursing, chiropractic, child care, car and bike repair, food, eyeglasses, firewood, gifts, and thousands of other goods and services. www.ithacahours.com
- Madison Hours is a Wisconsin Cooperative. Members pay an annual fee and receive the ability to list offers and requests of goods and services that they want or have. They receive three Madison Hours upon joining the coop and one Hour at each annual renewal. www.madisonhours.org
Corporate wrongs are hard to fight. Hold corporations accountable with help from these organizations.
- Big Box Tool Kit works to counter mega-retailers and rebuild local business by supplying information about big box stores, how to stop them, and how to get the neighbors involved, too. www.bigboxtoolkit.com
- Corporate Crime Reporter is an excellent source of information about corporations' legal infractions. It also produces a weekly newsletter, which you can subscribe to on the site. www.corporatecrimereporter.com
- The Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights has strived to block corporate exploitation of American citizens for over twenty years. They recognize that corporations are daunting, both politically and financially, and seek to close the power gap between these entities and the average citizen. www.consumerwatchdog.org
Global Exchange provides educational tools and resources aimed at promoting corporate responsibility, improved international relations, and human rights. The website includes a good listing of companies and organizations that support fair trade practices. www.globalexchange.org
- Responsible Shopper offers research on companies that are subjects of consumer/shareholder campaigns, with ideas for taking action. www.responsibleshopper.org
:: A NEW ECONOMY LIBRARY
Reflections, ideas, and visions for a new economy can be found in these books and films—including some recent releases and some old classics.
Agenda for a New Economy, by David Korten, argues that our hope lies not with Wall Street, but with Main Street, which creates wealth from real resources to meet real needs. (Berrett-Koehler Publishers, 2009).
Bringing the Food Economy Home, by Helena Norberg-Hodge, Todd Merrifield, and Steven Gorelick, argues that localizing our food economies is a “solution-multiplier” that will reduce the negative impacts of globalization. (Zed Books, 2002)
Capitalism 3.0, by Peter Barnes, urges readers to “upgrade” capitalism and preserve humanity's shared heritage by reclaiming the Commons – nature, community, and culture. (Berrett-Koehler Publishers, 2006)
Cooperation Works! by E. G. Nadeau and David Thomson, discusses specific, cooperative approaches to business, development, and the equal treatment of society's forgotten members, using success stories from the U.S. (Lone Oak Press, 1996)
Democracy at Risk: Rescuing Main Street from Wall Street, by Jeff Gates, discusses how to recreate our democracy by reshaping our economy and fighting economic inequality. (Perseus Books, 2001)
Democracy's Edge: Choosing to Save Our Country by Bringing Democracy to Life by Frances Moore Lappé, encourages a departure from “thin democracy,” vested in private interest, to “living democracy” in the interest of all. (Jossey-Bass, 2005)
Eco-Economy: Building an Economy for the Earth, by Lester R. Brown, challenges us to consider the economy as part of the environment. (W.W. Norton & Company, 2001)
Economics as if the Earth Really Mattered: A Catalyst Guide to Socially Conscious Investing, by Susan Meeker-Lowry, provides case studies, contacts, resource lists, and an extensive bibliography to help those concerned with finding ways to use their money to create a more just and sustainable economy. (New Society Publishers, 1988)
From Mondragón to America: Experiments in Community Development, by Greg MacLeod, explores the success of the community-owned town of Mondragon, Spain, as well as how to replicate its business and social experiment in other communities. (University College of Cape Breton Press, 1997)
The Future of Money, by Bernard Lietaer, a former currency speculator who helped design Europe's currency, describes how we can create a sustainable money system. (See YES! interview) (Random House Group Ltd (UK), 2001)
Going Local: Creating Self-Reliant Communities in a Global Age, by Michael H. Shuman, provides a thorough overview of many approaches to creating a local living economy. (Routledge, 2000)
Natural Capitalism: Creating the Next Industrial Revolution, by Paul Hawken, Amory Lovins, and L. Hunter Lovins, describes how business leaders are adopting a new models that account for the value and scarcity of natural ecosystems and life systems. (Little, Brown & Company, 1999)
The Nature of Economies, by Jane Jacobs, follows the conversation of five contemporary New Yorkers as they discuss whether economic life obeys the same rules as those that govern nature. (The Modern Library, 2000)
Parecon: Life After Capitalism, by Michael Albert, outlines a new economic model, “participatory economics,” a framework that is more democratic than capitalism or socialism. (Verso Books, 2003)
The Post-Corporate World: Life After Capitalism, by David C. Korten, documents the accelerating problems of unrestrained corporate power and creates a vision of a new living economy. (Berrett-Koehler Publishers with Kumarian Press Inc., 1999)
Putting Democracy to Work: A Practical Guide for Starting and Managing Worker-Owned Businesses, by Frank T. Adams and Gary B. Hansen, is a how-to guide for managing a worker cooperative. (Berrett-Koehler Publishers, 1993)
Short Circuit: Strengthening Local Economies for Security in an Unstable World, by Richard Douthwaite, proposes that communities should build independent local economies to avoid mainstream economic collapse, and also supplies ideas for action. (The Lilliput Press LTD, 1996)
Slow Money by Woody Tasch, brings money back down to Earth, explaining how business and local, sustainable, food production are intimately connected. (Chelsea Green, 2008)
The Small-Mart Revolution by Michael Shuman provides practical tips for consumers, investors, and policy-makers to help small, local businesses succeed over multinational corporations. (Barrett-Koehler, 2006)
The Support Economy: Why Corporations Are Failing Individuals and the Next Episode of Capitalism, by Shoshana Zuboff and James Maxmin, offers a diagnosis of the disintegration of the relationship between individuals and companies and explores the cause of the crisis. (Viking Penguin, 2002)
Small is Beautiful: Economics as if People Mattered, by E.F. Schumacher. This classic on human-scale, life-sustaining economics was re-issued in 1999, with an introduction by Paul Hawken. (Hartley & Marks, 1999)
What Comes Next: Proposals for a Different Society, by Thad Williamson, assesses proposed alternatives to the current political and economic system. (The National Center for Economic and Security Alternatives, 1998)
Argentina's Occupied Factories is a documentary film based on the Argentine workers' movement to occupy failed or failing factories and transform them into worker cooperatives. Michael Albert interviews workers as he tours occupied factories. 55 minutes, DVD. Z Communications, 2006. www.zmag.org
Independent America is a documentary featuring small business owners struggling against corporate incursion. www.independentamerica.net
What's the Economy For, Anyway? is John de Graaf's latest film about embracing the real wealth of living in healthy communities and taking back time for ourselves, our families, and the things that matter most. De Graaf is the national coordinator for Take Back Your Time Day. Keep an eye out for the film's upcoming release, and read some of the theories behind it at
Mary Richter compiled these resources for The New Economy, the Summer 2009 issue of YES! Magazine. Mary is an editorial intern at YES!