As part of my City Council training I recently listened to a presentation about economic development. The speaker took a dollar out of his pocket and had a small group pass it back and forth among each other and asked, “Is economic development taking place?”
The answer was no.
He then went up to a person in the crowd and asked, “Would you come over to the group and invest $5 dollars if you are guaranteed to take something of real value home?” The audience volunteer said yes and handed the group $5 dollars. The speaker in turn gave her a box of WA made fudge, a book written by a WA author, and some WA made wine. The speaker proudly stood back and said, “That is what economic development is all about, taking money from the outside and putting it into the community! Keep in mind though, when you bring outside money in, you have to give the people who gave you the new money something of real value to take with them.”
This speaker’s demonstration perfectly summarizes our broken modern day understanding of economic development.
The economy is not about dollars, it is about the fruits of the three economic sectors. In this demonstration, ‘economic development’ was a transaction where a community gave up real value (fruits from the three economic sector) in trade for $5 new dollars in the community! The community lost real value to an outsider in trade for dollars.
And the plot thickens…
The speaker passionately described why we really want to attract these new investors into the community. So we can trade even more real value to incentivize these investors to ‘create jobs’. Job creation not only increases incomes, it increases revenues for the city, state, and federal government (remember- this workshop is intended to train new legislators).
Ask yourself this, who does our modern day understanding of economic development benefit? It benefits investors as we trade away local real economic fruits for their new dollars -and- benefits the government as job creation creates increased revenue for their coffers. The current system is not only unsustainable, because it relies on perpetual growth, it robs communities of our real wealth and resources.
In Tomorrow’s Economy (part 1) I identified 2 criteria to satisfy as we co-create tomorrow’s economy:
1.) promotes meaningful work
2.) allows for participants to commerce for goods of the economic sector by methods that aren‘t exclusively dependent on the current debt based currency system
Possible Individual and Regional Responses
Possible Individual Responses
The best part is all of these responses are they provide meaningful work for participants.
* Place premium on primary sector wealth
* Innovate ways to provide as much of your family’s basic needs for yourselves
– growing your own food and seed saving
– making your own consumable items
– building a home business
– investing in resilience of your home (water catchment; energy efficiency; passive heat & cooling; strengthening the foundation; creative use of space)
– enriching your soil and increasing bio mass
– waste management (reuse, repurpose, and recycle)
* Develop community connections, bartering alliances, time banks, and neighborhood exchanges
* Create neighborhood, town, or city marketplaces for commerce to occur
Possible Regional Responses
* Coordinate and manage public primary resources (water management, forests, public land use)
Management of primary resources are always a point of debate. This is an issue with few clear solutions. To manage primary resources on scale requires regional approaches and requires some collective investment. I would love more public discussion on this topic.
* Promote opportunities and resources for regional citizens to strengthen their individual responses
* Err on the side of refrain in applying legislation, regulatory code, and taxation on emerging individual and regional responses to a transforming economy
* Establish, coordinate, or promote non-debt based alternatives for citizens to use in commerce
* Intentionally support city, regional, and other local marketplaces for commerce to occur