Thursday, February 25, 2010

Envisioning Economies for Better Communities

I have begun a community group that discusses our visions for a better economic system (or systems)--one that values community, the environment, and social justice.
We meet every two weeks at the First Unitarian Universalist Church through our Environmental Ministry program. We had a class like this last year in which we read Agenda for a New Economy by David Korten which looked specifically at financing and bailouts and seeks a new way of looking at what matters--what is wealth? We started the new group by viewing "The Corporation" and reading "The Transition Handbook."

Some exciting ideas that have been shared so far:

"We need an economy in which the goal is "health" rather than wealth."

"Perhaps a corporation if differently structured could be used to ramp up the power of groups that would like to produce healthy communities."

Members of this group are also involved in revolutionary, life-changing practices. Many of which have only begun in the last year:

Back yard sharing: Homeowners with yards allow neighbors without land to grow food in their yards in exchange for sharing work to make the garden grow.

Community Supported Agriculture: County land made available for community crops. Members sign up to receive produce and/or work the land.

Cooperative Market: Salt Lake City will be developing a bricks & mortar food co-op owned by employees and selling lots of local produce and products.

Urban Village: an expansive concept, yet it begins with ecologically designed co-housing, shared space, and mixed-use building. It will promote health and wellness, education, spirituality, local organic food and more as it flourishes. We hope it will be a model urban eco-village providing the blueprint for transition living.

B-Corporation movement--Write to corporations for which sustainability is already a target toward which they strive and ask them to re-structure as a B-Corporation.

Energy transition: We are all very concerned about global warming; global climate catastrophe, biosphere collapse, arable land destruction, deforestation, flooding, drought, extinctions, and pollution. All our activities strive toward carbon neutrality and carbon sequestration (the old fashioned way--you need to plant TREES.)

Crafts: Clothing, toys, preserved foods, and other household necessities are being made locally so that we don't produce much carbon from shipping, the labor is paid fairly because we set the prices and local flair can be incorporated into original designs. Crafts are sold in the warmer months each weekend at "The People's Market" in Pioneer Park downtown. The Farmer's Market is on the same square at the same time.

We're learning "urban homesteading" methods to become as self-sufficient in our consumption as we can (sharing and trading of course so both self-sufficient and community spirited.) This includes modest urban animal husbandry of chickens and bees. It may also include, beer, cider and winemaking; growing food; recycling cloth; scavenging materials; preserving food; diy home projects etc...

We engage with national, state, and local political activism to get away from carbon dirty industries--oil, coal, methane and to move toward clean energy-solar, wind, geothermal. We have successfully prevented access to Yucca Mountain by denying other states the right of way to drive or trainload radioactive waste through our borders. We have succeeded in getting a bill passed to enable homeowners to insulate their homes with govt. financing. (Now if we can get this to include installing solar panels.) We are also working to save open space and keep smart-growth, non-sprawl planning as the guiding principle for city planning.

I'll keep posting on our developments.