Building Sustainable Local Economies Seminar 2007

Tools for Change Training Program

The Schumacher Center’s Tools for Change Training Seminar took place from May 23rd – 27th, 2007 at the Schumacher Center Library and Simon’s Rock College of Bard.

Workshops were with Erbin Crowell, Alan Glackman, Eric Harris-Braun, Elizabeth Keen, Christopher Lindstrom, Jennifer Sahn, Alex Thorp, Chuck Turner, Lawrence Union, and Susan Witt.

How can regional communities regain the power to revitalize the means of production of basic necessities (food, energy, shelter, clothing) in the face of a deepening economic, social, and ecological crisis? Participants learn about successful, citizen driven models for community revitalization and how to take action in applying them to their own community.

How do we work together as individuals and a community to:

  1. Create non-profit community development financing systems such as local
  2. Become social entrepreneurs devising community and worker-owned
  3. Provide affordable access to land for farming and housing;
  4. Build strong regionally based and democratic economies?


Erbin Crowell is active in the co-operative, Fair Trade and sustainable agriculture movements. Since 1995, he has worked with Equal Exchange, a worker co-operative and Fair Trade Organization that trades with small farmer co-ops in Latin America, Africa and Asia, marketing their products to food co-ops and other businesses in the US. Currently Erbin directs the organization’s Domestic Fair Trade Program, applying Fair Trade principles to partnerships with family farmers in the US and Canada. He also serves as president of the Co-operative Fund of New England.

Alan S. Glackman, C.P.A., P.C. is a graduate of Florida Atlantic University, Boca Raton, Florida College of Business and Public Administration in 1970, Alan successfully passed all parts of the Uniform CPA Examination in 1975. He practiced accounting, auditing, and was a tax partner in the Miami, Florida CPA firm of Sobel, Glackman & Sobel, P.A. from 1976 until 2006. He became a managing partner of the firm in 1993. Alan moved his practice from Miami, Florida to Great Barrington, Massachusetts in 2006. His industry experience includes construction, manufacturing, retail, leisure, restaurant, and professional practices including legal and medical. Married to his wife, Benes for 33 years with no kids, just a rescue dog named Lucky. For the past 30 years Alan Glackman was a partner in the Miami, Florida CPA firm of Sobel, Glackman & Sobel, P.A. This year he moved his practice from Miami to Great Barrington where he has an office on Mechanic Street.

Eric Harris-Braun is chairman of the board at the Schumacher Center. He lives in rural New York, where he is part of an intentional community. Eric is a software developer by profession and is working on a global platform for local currency deployment.

Elizabeth Keen and Alex Thorp are the owners and operators of Indian Line Farm on land leased from the Community Land Trust in the Southern Berkshires. Indian Line Farm, located in South Egremont, MA, is one of the first Community Supported Agriculture farms in the US. In addition to farming and raising two children, Elizabeth is a founding board member of Berkshire Grown, serves on the Great Barrington Farmers Market Steering Committee, and has lived and worked in Central America with Witness For Peace; and Al serves as president of the board of the Community Land Trust and is also a registered professional engineer.

Chris Lindstrom organized the Center’s June 2004 conference, “Local Currencies in the Twenty-First Century: Understanding Money, Building Local Economies, Renewing Community,” which brought together currency theorists and activists from 17 countries. Chris is a founding board member of BerkShares, a local currency initiative for Berkshire County, MA.

Jennifer Sahn, BerkShares Board member and head of its marketing committee, is editor of Orion magazine, winner of the 2004 Independent Press Award for General Excellence. She has been on the magazine’s editorial staff for the past fourteen years, during which time she also worked closely with the education and outreach programs of The Orion Society. Her writing has been published in a variety of print venues, including Wild Earth, The Berkshire Review, and Resurgence, and she has served as the editor for several book projects. She is a former board member and board president of Berkshire Grown, and presently sits on the advisory boards of the University Press of Kentucky’s Culture of the Land series in the new agrarianism and Indian Line Farm in South Egremont. She moved to the Berkshires in 1996, when Orion relocated there, and lives with husband Nick Thielker, son Henry, and chocolate Lab Molly in South Egremont.

Chuck Turner has been a Boston City Councilor since 1999, well known for challenging education inequality, discrimination, neighborhood gentrification, and the war in Iraq. He has championed and been actively involved with cooperatives and worker-owned enterprises, a leader for many years at the Industrial Cooperative Association (now the ICA Group). Chuck recently sponsored a resolution asking the Mass Congressional Delegation to seek policies that lead to a withdrawal of troops from Iraq and Afghanistan as well as policies that put a larger share of our federal dollars into domestic priorities that benefit the people of Boston and the United States. The resolution passed 8 to 3.

Lawrence G. Union, Jr. is currently the President and CEO for Northeast Biodiesel Company, LLC of Greenfield, MA.    Prior to joining Northeast Biodiesel Mr. Union was the CEO for the Connecticut Energy Cooperative, Inc. and Co-op Fuels, LLC of Hartford, CT where he directed the introduction of the first retail “green” power offering in the northeast.   His innovative, cooperative marketing programs signed on over 13,000 consumers, businesses, municipalities and major educational institutions for the energy product and service offerings of this CT co-op.  Mr. Union holds a degree in Mechanical Engineering from General Motors Institute in Flint, MI and a MBA in Finance from the Darden School of Business at the University of Virginia.

Susan Witt has served as executive director of the Schumacher Center in Great Barrington, Massachusetts since its founding in 1980.  She created the SHARE micro-credit program, founded the Community Land Trust in the Southern Berkshires , administers the BerkShares local currency program , and actively serves her local community.


Seminar Program:

Wednesday, May 23

Schumacher’s Philosophy of Small Is Beautiful – Seminar participants introduce themselves with description of the regional communities they represent.  Presentation of the philosophy underlying the work of building strong regionally-based economies, shaped by the democratic participation of citizens with a goal of achieving greater economic self-sufficiency.  Review of literature in the field.  Discussion of the evolution of this concept here in the Berkshires into the complex of regionally-based, democratically-structured organizations working together to foster a climate of citizen support for local producers.


Thursday, May 24

The Community Land Trust Model – Tour of the 12,000 volume Schumacher Center Library, and explanation of cataloguing system, so that it is easily accessible for seminar attendees.  A presentation of the community land trust model describing how a community can create affordable access to land for housing and other purposes; an explanation of the use of long-term leases to ensure equity in buildings to the home owner, while excluding land value at resale (thereby keeping homes affordable to future residents); discussion with local home owners/leaseholders of the Community Land Trust in the Southern Berkshires.  Discussion of the application of the community land trust concept to farmland and farm residences and to inner city neighborhoods.  Examples: Indian Line Farm, a 22-acre organic Community Supported Agriculture farm.  How a partnership between the Community Land Trust in the Southern Berkshires, The Nature Conservancy, and two farmers enabled the community to acquire the land of this historic farm to ensure that it remained in active production.  Example of Dudley Street Neighborhood Initiative in Roxbury area of Boston where a neighborhood reclaimed abandoned properties through a community land trust and directed their own development. Site visits to Indian Line Farm and Forest Row, an 18-unit neighborhood of affordable owner-occupied homes.


Friday, May 25

Community Development Financing & Local Currencies –  An introduction to Community Financing Systems.  Examples of successful micro-credit programs.  Principles of creating community (or regional) development financing systems utilizing local banks as administrators.  Introduction to the SHARE Micro-credit Program with examples of businesses started.  Discussion of self-financing techniques – how a business can finance its product or technology without the need for outside bank loans or credit.  Examples: Deli-Dollars and Berkshire Farm Preserve Notes.  Local Currencies as a vehicle for communities to regain control of issuing credit. Discussion of successful local currency models including LETS, Time Dollars, Hour Programs, WIR and other business-to-business programs, backed currencies (such as Salt Spring Dollars, Toronto Dollars, and BerkShares), and new innovations in electronic exchange technologies as a way to further local currency issue.  Site visits to banks facilitating exchange in BerkShares and some of many businesses accepting BerkShares.

Land, Food, and Energy in a New Local Economy – Drawing on his experiences as Commissioner of Agriculture for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, as Director of the Dudley Street Neighborhood Initiative, and in his current role Assistant Secretary for Clean Energy Technology within the Office of Environmental Affairs for the State of Massachusetts, Greg Watson will weave together the role of affordable access to land, local food, and local energy production and their importance in building sustainable local economies. He will share stories of innovation and success in these fields.


Saturday, May 26

Towards Community Self-Management and Diversification of Wealth  Diversifying Wealth:  defining how a community can become a “social entrepreneur,” the role that producer/consumer associations can play in establishing new business initiatives and community accountability.  An examination of the Mondragon worker-ownership model from the Basque region of Spain.  Case study of Equal Exchange, a worker cooperative importing and distributing “fair trade” products.  In addition to maintaining its own cooperative structure, Equal Exchange encourages and supports the formation of new cooperatives in its supplier community.


Sunday, May 27

Developing Action Plans –  Presentations by participants of how they plan to apply the tools for community economic development they have studied in the training session to the problems faced by their own  communities.  Clarification of programs discussed in earlier days; discussion of perceived difficulties involved with application; discussion of ways organizations in a region can work together to support each other.




Wednesday, May 23
5:00 – 6:00 PM Registration
6:00 – 9:00  PM  Welcome dinner, introductions,
seminar overview


Thursday, May 24
9:30 –12:00 PM Community Land Trusts
12:00 – 1:00 PM Catered Lunch
1:30 – 3:00 PM  Indian Line Farm
 3:30 – 5:30 PM Indian Line Farm Tour
6:00 – 7:00 PM Dinner
 7:30 – 9:45 PM Community Land Trusts


Friday, May 25
9:30 –12:00 PM Community Financing
12:00 – 1:00 PM Catered Lunch
1:30 – 3:00 PM Local Currencies
 3:30 – 6:00 PM BerkShares site visits
6:00 – 7:00 PM Dinner
 7:30 – 9:45 PM Discussion with BerkShares board members


Saturday, May 26
9:30 AM – 12:00 PM Diversifying Wealth, Co-ops
12:00 – 1:00 PM Catered Lunch
1:30 – 3:00 PM Equal Exchange
3:30 – 6:00 PM Community Tour – Forest Row
6:30 PM  Free Evening


Sunday, May 27
9:30 AM – 12:30 PM Action Plans
12:30 – 1:30 PM Catered Lunch/Farewells



Event Speakers

Christopher Lindstrom

Christopher Lindstrom is committed to his work to help transition the economy from a paradigm of extraction to one of regeneration. He has had an interest in and passion for the area of alternative monetary systems and local currencies since 2002. In 2003 he became a volunteer staff member at the Schumacher Center for a … Continued

Eric Harris-Braun

Eric Harris-Braun designs and builds software infrastructure for the new economy. He is a co-founder of the MetaCurrency project, which is creating a platform for communities of all scales to design and deploy their own currencies, and Holochain, which will host a full array of asset-backed, value-stable currencies, setting a new class of cryptocurrencies that will … Continued

Charles Turner

Charles (Chuck) Turner was a community organizer and civil rights activist in Boston, Massachusetts. He graduated from Harvard University in 1963 with a B.A. in government. After a year spent in Washington, D.C. reporting for The Washington Afro-American Newspaper, he moved to Hartford where he joined the influential civil rights group, the Northern Student Movement. … Continued

Susan Witt

Susan Witt is the Executive Director of the Schumacher Center for a New Economics, which she co-founded with Robert Swann in 1980. She has led the development of the Schumacher Center’s highly regarded publications, library, seminars, and other educational programs, which established the Center as a pioneering voice for an economics shaped by social and ecological principles. Deeply engaged … Continued