- Lectures & Publications
Is there an independent bookstore, a local bike shop, or an old-fashioned camera shop in your community? If so, they need saving as urgently as the Piping Plover or Plymouth Red-Bellied Turtle. To preserve these businesses, we need to preserve their habitat—a habitat of small, locally owned enterprises, trading with one another, welcoming customers by name, paying town taxes, providing secure jobs, donating gift certificates to benefit the Little League Team, and serving on town boards.
Judy Wicks 2004 E. F. Schumacher Lecture (http://centerforneweconomics.org/publications/lectures/wicks/judy/good-m...) was about the White Dog Café and the vision and principals that inspired a locally-based business that supported other community businesses, that treated employees fairly, and that sourced materials regionally.
In the 1950s Father José María Arizmendiarrieta, the village priest of Mondragón in the Basque region of Spain, inspired the development of a series of cooperatively owned industries to employ youth in his parish. His vision was that, through ownership by the workers, the wealth created by new industries would be distributed to the workers and to the larger community that nourished and supported them.
Identifying a Strategy
Building a responsible movement for a new economy will require planning how to create new jobs without increased growth. One approach is a strategy of import-replacement, with more labor intensive, smaller batch production, transported over shorter distances. The goal would be to create more jobs, but not more "stuff," with a smaller carbon footprint overall. This may be an ambitious objective, but it is necessary if we are to transition to an economic system that is both equitable and sustainable.
Such a strategy will take a cultural shift as well as an economic one.
The home of the Schumacher Center for a New Economics is the Berkshire region of Massachusetts. As we are committed to the implementation as well as the development of a new economics the task for us has been how to create a diverse and vital Berkshire economy independent of, and resilient toward, fluctuations in the outside economy. The process has engaged us with local, regional, and national partner organizations working to identify solutions to similar problems.
In considering the characteristics of a new economy, the question of money arises: What is the appropriate role of money? What entity or entities should govern its issue? How much should be placed in circulation and on what basis? What determines its value once in circulation? How might its very structure favor financing for regionally-based businesses producing goods in a sustainable manner for local markets?
Local currencies are designed to encourage trade at locally owned businesses. At the same time their very design can reflect and honor the history and culture or an area. This is true of BerkShares. On the 20 BerkShare note, for example, you find Herman Melville, novelist, essayist, poet, and mariner. Melville is best known as the author of one of the greatest of all American novels, “Moby Dick” (1851).
"Lowly, unpurposeful, and random as they may appear, sidewalk contacts are the small change from which a city's wealth of public life may grow." --Jane Jacobs from "The Death and Life of Great American Cities."
Over the past year BerkShares has received an incredible amount of media attention. The Wall Street Journal, Al Jazeera, BBC News and even Fox News have all covered our local sustainable currency. Enjoy this brief collage of media coverage:
Introduction to BerkShares
In this fragile economy discussion of a new, re-envisioned, economics is a common topic, bridging political affiliations. People are eager to join in practical action that addresses a system in crisis, driving an activism in which every citizen is a participant.
For twenty-nine years, the E. F. Schumacher Society, joined by a circle of partners and allies, has imagined, implemented, and shared information about citizen-initiated projects for shaping sustainable local economies.
As part of his vision for diverse regional economies, E. F. Schumacher advocated for production and manufacturing from local resources for local needs.