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Since the founding of this nation—created through genocide, and built on stolen land by enslaved people—racialized capitalism has taught us that success means exploitation, acquisition, and the never-ending pursuit of greater material wealth.
This colonial, white supremacist definition of prosperity has been framed as an inherently individual pursuit; we are in competition to have more than those around us, and winning, we are led to believe, will bring us happiness. But as rampant inequality in wealth, health, education, and nearly every other measure of well-being is amplified by the climate crisis (itself a result of the ecological devastation wrought by runaway capitalism), there is a growing movement to question this conception of prosperity.
Communities historically excluded from this limited definition of prosperity have long known there are other ways to build prosperity. Black, Brown, Indigenous, immigrant, and low-income communities around the country have proven time and time again that shared prosperity is not only more effective at building communal wealth and well-being, but also at building resilient, responsive systems that can adapt to ever-changing environments, be they physical, social, political, or economic.
In this four-part reported series, YES! explores the ways that individuals, movements, and communities are redefining prosperity—shifting from a narrow focus on economic growth to a more holistic approach that considers social, environmental, and cultural factors in achieving well-being for individuals and communities.
By highlighting both innovations and longstanding models of shared prosperity, this series explores how we arrived at this narrow, exclusionary, and exploitative understanding of prosperity—and also illuminates a path toward a future where the well-being of the people, the planet, and our societies drives our collective action.
Capitalism’s endless economic growth prioritizes the individual over community and creates extreme inequality. But it doesn’t have to be that way.
By Anoa Changa & Ericka Taylor
As baby boomer business owners retire, their employees are taking ownership of their own futures.
By Jaisal Noor
Respecting the humanity and history of soil can help us grow a more resilient future for all.
By Breanna Draxler
Intergenerational housing for LGBTQ elders and youth can relieve isolation and housing instability for both groups.
By Greg Hernandez
This series is underwritten by a grant from the Kendeda Fund’s People, Place, and Planet program. While reporting and production of the series was funded by this grant, YES! maintains full editorial control of the content published herein. Read our editorial policies and standards here.
Sunnivie Brydum is the managing editor at YES! An award-winning investigative journalist with a background covering LGBTQ equality, Sunnivie previously led digital coverage at The Advocate, Free Speech TV, and Out Front Colorado. Their writing has appeared in Vox, Religion Dispatches, them., and elsewhere. She has a degree in magazine journalism from the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University, and is a co-founder of Historias No Contadas, an annual symposium in Medellín, Colombia, that amplifies the stories of LGBTQ people in Latin America. They are based in Seattle, speak English and Spanish, and are a member of NLGJA, SPJ, and ONA.