- 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.
The transformation to fair and sustainable regional economies requires place-based, citizen-driven tools. The principles behind these tools are universal, but their effective application will be shaped by the landscape, the people, the history, and the culture of each particular region.
In her 1984 book Cities and the Wealth of Nations, the remarkable Jane Jacobs writes not about economics, but about economic life. She observes economies in motion, not in stasis, and argues that city regions are the heart of that economic life – pulsing, changing, and engaging in "exuberant episodes of import-replacing."
As proponents of a transition to a new economy we have identified the following focus points for our work:
Judy Wicks was advised by friends to franchise her popular White Dog Café but she rejected the suggestion. The White Dog was shaped by its Philadelphia neighborhood, by Judy's hosting style and tastes, by the regional farmers who supplied the restaurant, by the staff drawn to work there, and by the culture of its customers. It was a business deeply embedded in place. She could not replicate the White Dog, but she could encourage other entrepreneurs to look to the people, streets, and shops of their own community to shape the business of their passion.
The pursuit of a new economics has broad implications. Our Earth is in crisis; our communities are in crisis. At the heart of these twin issues is an economic system that treats land, air, water, and minerals – our common inheritance – as commodities to be bought and sold on the market. An economic system that distributes the income from that inheritance to a relatively few "owners," whose wealth increases disproportionately as a result, leading to social disruption.
A growing number of young people know what must be done to cure our ailing global economy. They are not only protesting a failing system but are also building its replacement. New agrarians are being met by fellow new economists in urban neighborhoods, small towns, and remote villages. They are coming home—a Generation Local. You will find them in farm fields, small-batch manufacturing, local marketplaces, recycling ventures, renewable energy coops, farm-to-table restaurants, house concerts, food pantries, and Grange meetings.
In his new book, With Liberty and Dividends for All: How to Save Our Middle Class When Jobs Don't Pay Enough, Peter Barnes continues the current discussion about wealth inequality. In his argument that the middle class will be unable to sustain their lifestyle on wages alone, he echoes the analysis of Thomas Piketty in Capital in the Twenty First Century, and more recently of Saskia Sassen in her book Expulsions: Brutality and Complexity in the Global Economy.
Thomas Piketty's book Capital in the 21st Century has placed a proverbial line in the sand for all those concerned with inequality of wealth distribution.
Piketty is an economic historian. In his book he documents the fact that owners of capital assets – including stocks, bonds, and real estate – have historically realized a financial return higher than wage growth.
In his presentation at the 1974 Agriculture for a Small Planet Symposium in Spokane, Washington, Wendell Berry remarked:
"Few people, whose testimony would have mattered, have seen the connection between the modernization of agricultural techniques and disintegration of the culture and the communities of farming."