- Lectures & Publications
To educate the public about an economics that supports both people and the planet. We believe that a fair and sustainable economy is possible and that citizens working for the common interest can build systems to achieve it. We recognize that the environmental and equity crises we now face have their roots in the current economic system.
From 1980-1983 I held the envious position of director of education at the New Alchemy Institute. New Alchemy was an amazing “think-do” tank operating on an abandoned 12-acre dairy farm on Cape Cod. Inspired by the likes of Rachel Carson, Wendell Berry, E. F. Schumacher, and Buckminster Fuller, among others, the institute emerged from the protests in the aftermath of the first Earth Day in 1970 as the premier agent of change to a sustainable future.
All of us are joint owners of a trove of hidden assets. These assets — natural gifts like air and water, and social creations like science and the Internet — constitute our shared inheritance — the Commons. They’re vital to our lives and are at the heart of all economic activity.
The problem of sustainability is simple enough to state. It requires that the fertility cycle of birth, growth, maturity, death, and decay—what Albert Howard called “the Wheel of Life”—must turn continuously in place, so that the law of return is kept and nothing is wasted. For this to happen in the stewardship of humans, there must be a cultural cycle, in harmony with the fertility cycle, also continuously turning in place.
The pursuit of a new economics has broad implications. Our Earth is in crisis; our communities are in crisis. We are all charged with creating solutions. These solutions will of necessity be citizen-driven, growing from the rich soil of particular places.
"If the raw materials for making cocoa are obtained from plantations on the West coast of Africa which use some form of forced native labour, are carried by vessels on sea routes monopolised or controlled by violence, manufactured in England with sweated labor and brought to India under favourable customs duties enforced by political power, then a buyer of a tin of cocoa patronises the forced labour conditions in the West coast of Africa, utilizes the navy and so partakes in violence, gains by the low wages or bad conditions of workers in England
Social innovation appears important because, as anticipated, it indicates viable ways of dealing with [intractable problems]: solutions that break the traditional economic models and propose new ones, operating on the basis of a multiplicity of actors’ motivations and expectations.
Having worked on and off in the arena of sustainable agriculture for nearly fifty years in both the government and nonprofit sectors, I am asked/challenged most often with the question “When will the production of locally grown, nutritious food become economically viable?”
On Saturday October 22nd at 7:00 pm, award winning author Wendell Berry and The Land Institute's co-founder Wes Jackson will share the stage at the historic Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center in the heart of Great Barrington, Massachusetts. They will hold a conversation about the 50-Year Farm Bill, their work, and their long friendship and collaboration in support of rural communities.
The smash hit Broadway musical Hamilton is careful to remind us that it really matters “who tells your story.” After all, who tells the story also determines which stories get told.