Building Sustainable Local Economies Seminar 2008

Tools for Change Training Program

The Schumacher Center’s Tools for Change Training Seminar took place from May 21st to 25th, 2008 at the Schumacher Center Library and Bard College at Simon’s Rock.

Workshops were with Eric Harris-Braun, Elizabeth Keen, Chris Lindstrom, Kirkpatrick Sale, Alex Thorp, Charles Turner, Susan Witt, and other guest speakers. There was also a public lecture by Joseph Stanislaw.

The seminar posed the question, Can your community build a regionally based and democratic economy? And what is required to provide affordable access to land for farming and housing, capital for new business development, and meaningful work for local residents? Important capacities in the face of a changing world economy.

Subject matter includes overview of land, labor, and capital in a sustainable economy; examination of organizational documents of community economic programs modeled in the Berkshires; site visits and discussions with principals involved in these programs; and participant led discussion of potential program application in their own communities. See below for a list of seminar workshops and faculty.

How might the seminar “Building Sustainable Local Economies” help initiate  action in your community?

  1. Attend the seminar yourself, becoming a resource for the development of a strong local economy at home.
  2. Recommend and sponsor a community leader or promising young activist who will return to your community with the energy and ideas for catalyzing discussions and new initiatives.
  3. Support the educational programs of the Schumacher Center, assuring that we can continue providing training to new generations of people seeking an economy embedding ecological and social values.



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 & Alexander 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 local currency program.

Kirkpatrick Sale has the Irish gift for words, but he combines it with the disciplined research needed to effectively make his case. His classic work Human Scale examines the impact of size throughout human history and institutions. It is the natural companion to Schumacher’s Small Is Beautiful.

Joseph Stanislaw is founder of the advisory firm JA Stanislaw Group, LLC, specializing in strategic thinking, sustainability, and environmentally sound investment in energy and technology. He is an independent Senior Advisor to Deloitte & Touche USA LLP’s Energy & Resources Group. Dr. Stanislaw was one of three founders of Cambridge Energy Research Associates in 1983 and served as managing director for non-U.S. activity until 1997 when he was named president and later CEO. He is an adjunct professor in the Nicholas School of the Environment and Earth Sciences at Duke University, where he is a member of the Board of Advisors for the Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions. He co-authored with Daniel Yergin the book The Commanding Heights: The Battle for the World Economy.

Charles (‘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.

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 Workshops

E. F. Schumacher’s Philosophy of Small is Beautiful: The philosophy underlying the work of building strong regionally-based economies, shaped by the democratic participation of citizens with discussion of the evolution of this concept through the programs of the Schumacher Center.

Community Land Trust Model: Using the community land trust model as a means to creating affordable access to land for housing and other purposes while ensuring equity in the buildings for the owners; including legal structure and visits to community land trust sites.

Community Development Financing Systems & Local Currencies: Creating wealth on a regional level through self-financing, micro-credit and local currency, using Deli-Dollars, Berkshire Farm Preserve Notes, SHARE Micro-credit, and BerkShares as examples.

Community Self-Management & Diversification of Wealth: How a community can become a “social entrepreneur” and the role that producer/consumer associations can play in establishing new business initiatives and community accountability, with an examination of the Mondragon worker-ownership model from the Basque region of Spain.

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.



Recommended Readings for Symposium Participants

Abrams, John.  The Company We Keep: Reinventing Small Businesses for People, Community, and Place.  White River Junction, VT: Chelsea Green, 2005.

Barnes, Peter.  Who Owns the Sky?  Our Common Assets and the Future of Capitalism.  Washington, DC: Island Press, 2001.

Barnes, Peter, ed.  The People’s Land: A Reader on Land Reform in the United States.  Emmaus, PA: Rodale Press Book Division, 1975.

Berry, Wendell.  The Unsettling of America: Culture & Agriculture.  New York: Avon Books, 1977.

Buber, Martin.  Paths in Utopia.  Boston, MA: Beacon Press, 1949.

Hannum, Hildegarde ed.  People, Land, and Community: Collected E. F. Schumacher Society Lectures.  London: Yale University Press, 1997.

Henderson, Hazel.  Creating Alternative Futures: the End of Economics.  West Hartford, CT: Kumarian Press, 1996.

Jacobs, Jane.  Cities and the Wealth of Nations: Principles of Economic Life.  New York: Vintage Books, 1984.

Kohr, Leopold.  The Breakdown of Nations.  New York, NY: E.P. Dutton, 1978.

Kropotkin, Peter. Mutual Aid: A Factor of Evolution.  Boston, MA: Extending Horizons Books, 1914.

Kropotkin, Peter.  Memoirs of a Revolutionist.  New York: Grove Press, Inc.  1970.

Kumarappa, J.C.  Why the Village Movement?  Varanasi, India: Bhargava Bhushan Press, 1960.

Lietaer, Bernard.  The Future of Money: Creating New Wealth, Work, and a Wiser World.  London, UK: Century, 2001.

Morehouse, Ward, ed.  Building Sustainable Communities: Tools and Concepts for Self-Reliant Economic Change.  New York, NY: Bootstrap Press, 1989.

Norberg-Hodge, Helena.  Ancient Futures: Learning from Ladakh.  San Francisco, CA: Sierra Club Books, 1991.

Schumacher, E. F.  Good Work.  New York: Harper & Row, Publishers, 1979.

Shuman, Michael.  Going Local: Creating Self-Reliant Communities in a Global Age.  New York: Routledge, 2000.

Steiner, Rudolf.  World Economy.  London, UK: Rudolf Steiner Press, 1972.

Todd, Helen, ed.  Cloning Grameen Bank: Replicating a Poverty Reduction Model in India, Nepal, and Vietnam.  London, UK: Intermediate Technology Publications, Ltd.  1996.

Wilson, Charles Morrow.  Let’s Try Barter: the Answer to Inflation and the Tax Collector.  New York: The Devin-Adair Co., 1960.


Related Lectures

Energy: Global is Local
Community Land Trust Structures
A New Cosmological View
A New Language for Wealth
The Mystical Quality of Money

Event Speakers

Joseph A. Stanislaw

Joseph A. Stanislaw is founder of The JAStanislaw Group, LLC, an advisory firm specializing in strategic thinking, sustainability, and environmentally sound investment in energy and technology. Drawing on his experience as an advisor for environmentally sound investments in energy and technology, he has provided examples of actions necessary for moving toward a new energy economy. … 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

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

Kirkpatrick Sale

Kirkpatrick Sale is a widely recognized formulator and early proponent of the notion of “bioregionalism.” His development of this concept in his books, lectures, and regular radio broadcasts fueled the ever-growing interest in a local approach to the solving of growing political, economic, and environmental problems. A scholar and author, his many books have explored radical … 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