This is a concise explanation of what a truly local economy would look like. I do get the feeling that many people think this is hopelessly naive, misguided, or just plain wrong for America. “Why everyone knows that the economic system we have in place today was the one God intended when He founded this great nation.”
This comes from “The Transition of Appalachia”by Anthony Flaccavento – read it here
- Sustainable economies are locally rooted, intimately adapted to the assets and challenges of their particular place. This “adaptation to place” should imply dynamism and resilience in economic design, as places evolve ecologically and demographically.
- Sustainable economies fit within the ecosystem. This applies not only to the ecosystem where the community is located, but to larger ecological systems as well: water and nutrient cycles, energy, the air and atmosphere. Fitting within the ecosystem requires a thorough understanding of both limits and assets, regionally and globally.
- Sustainable economies are more self reliant and resilient. This does not suggest total self-sufficiency or isolation from other communities or economies, but much reduced dependency on external resources, companies, and markets. Of necessity, self-reliant communities make the most of what they have and live within their means. Resilience comes in large part from this greater self-reliance and reduced dependency, along with the knowledge, skills, and technologies needed to increase efficiency, reduce and conserve energy, and adapt to a changing environment.
- Sustainable economies are more just, with wealth much more broadly owned or shared. Substantial disparities in income or wealth lead to myriad expensive problems: poor health, alienation from civic and political life, economic dependence. More widely dispersed wealth, in the form of small farms and woodlots, windmills and other energy resources, and locally owned businesses and facilities, engenders participation and greater personal investment in the welfare of the community.
- Sustainable economies have infrastructure that increases the value and marketability of their products. Depending on the natural resource base and cultural heritage of each place, this may include dry kilns and wood manufacturing facilities, aggregation and distribution centers for food, “waste to energy” facilities, venues that highlight historical, cultural, and artistic sites, and much more. The common denominator of these types of infrastructure is that they enable local people and communities to retain a much higher proportion of the end value of their products, while also creating market access for smaller entrepreneurs with limited resources.
- Sustainable economies are engaging and empowering. They overcome alienation and estrangement between producers and consumers, between political and business elites and ordinary people. While this will undoubtedly take time, many of the initiatives described earlier have already begun to cultivate increased engagement among a broad segment of the community, resulting in improvements in public and institutional policies.