Keeping it Local for the Holidays

Photo by Jason Houston

Economist Fritz Schumacher called for a system of vibrant local economies in which the goods consumed in a region are produced in the region.

He argued that when production is local there is a better chance of knowing the ecological and human story of the production process: what natural resources are used in manufacturing; are these resources gathered in a way that maintains the health of the ecosystem; is manufacturing waste responsibly disposed; what are the working conditions of those making the products and do they earn a living wage for the region; does the regulatory environment facilitate necessary innovation; and do the product and its production process draw on the unique cultural traditions of the region?

Schumacher noted that when production is local, goods need not be transported over long distances using precious fossil fuel and adding to climate degradation. Further, a region making its own products retains a skilled workforce and manufacturing infrastructure and so is less vulnerable to sudden fluctuations in the global economy.

If we accept Schumacher’s economic analysis, then implied is the recognition of our responsibility as concerned citizens to keep spending local and so strengthen our local economy. This is not an isolationist strategy. The same buy local mandate applies to citizens around the world seeking to create their own regional economic security.

Our task is to foster the capacity to produce necessities of food, clothing, shelter, and energy from local resources for local use. In doing so in our own community we set an example for other communities.

BerkShares local currency is a tool for citizens of the Berkshire region of Massachusetts to demonstrate their support for local businesses, develop a sustainable local economy, and celebrate the stories behind their purchases.

The circulation of BerkShares continues to be strong and this holiday season trade is getting an added boost from the BerkShares Holiday Shop-a-Thon. Whenever someone purchases a holiday gift using BerkShares, he or she earns the chance to win great prizes donated by participating businesses. You can keep informed of the progress of BerkShares on their website.