Speaking for Collective Change

Pictured: Greg Watson, Severine von Tscharner Fleming, Jerry Mander, Judy Wicks, Peter Barnes, and Caroline Woolard

What does a new economy built on principles of fairness and sustainability look like?  How do we model it; where is it emerging; how do we collectively strategize to fully implement it?  These are the pressing questions of our time.

The Schumacher Center’s speakers are pioneers in the development of a new economy. Together they are responsible for the creation of multiple organizations, initiatives, and publications that are addressing these questions.

Their voices are powerful; they are leading a revolution for change. To broaden the influence of these voices, the Schumacher Center’s staff has assembled a  compendium of exceptional speakers.

You will find biographical material, areas of interest, and contact information for each speaker. When extending an invitation, please provide details concerning the nature of the program, dates, venue, sponsors, and honorarium offered.

Speaking topics include:

Local Economies
The Local Economy movement is considered by many to be the engine of the new economy.  Vibrant, energetic, and self-empowered, it is driven by citizen activists not waiting for governments to solve problems, but building now the kind of economy they would like for their future.  Blossoming out of the local food movement, these local initiatives are supporting multiple kinds of local production to meet local needs.  Shaped by local skills and local resources they differ in form from region to region — but all are characterized by the vision, creativity, and community spirit of its core groups who dare to take risk and try what has not been done before.

Sharing the Commons 
What is the appropriate place of land and natural resources in a just and sustainable economy?  Should land be a commodity traded on the market to the highest bidder, allowing those with ownership to benefit from our common need and common heritage?  If not via market, how might land and natural resources be otherwise allocated? Subjects in this area include definitions of the commons and mechanisms to ensure fair allocation and distribution of usage fees.

Ownership and Work
When business is owned by capital instead of by workers and stakeholders, an uneven distribution of wealth inevitably occurs.  Subjects in this area include new ownership models, including consumer and producer coops, the Mondragon cooperatives in Spain, the Northern Italian flexible manufacturing networks, Employee Stock Ownership Plans, and multiple stakeholder ownership models.

Transforming Money
Though the tool of money is a social construct, the very form and nature of its current method of issue is rarely questioned when addressing the need to transform our economy to one that is more just and sustainable.  What might be sound principles for monetary issue in a new economy?  How might the process be more democratized? Subjects include the nature of money, its origins, its status as a commodity, and its place in social relationship and language. Specific contemporary examples of alternative currency systems include BerkShares, WIR, and Chimgauer, and the potential offered by community based electronic platforms to work alongside present currency systems.

Banking and Financing
The current global banking and financing system has failed us, creating havoc with national and regional economies, and leading to real life personal tragedies in lost jobs and lost homes.  How might an alternative system be structured that promotes long-term sustainable development rather than short-term value?  Subjects include public, cooperative and community banking, citizen-organized community financing programs, radical impact investing, and the role of government in financial reform.

Production and Consumption  
While much of the focus of transitioning to a new economy is on changes in government policy, business structure, banking, and financing, there remains a considerable role for individuals and households in this transition.  How can we develop mutual support systems that replace our dependence on acquiring more stuff?  The elegance of simplicity, the richness of community, living within the bounds of our bioregion, shorter work weeks — these are all elements of a new American dream.  TimeBanks, meta-currencies, asset-based community accounting, resilience circles — are all tools for facilitating what will be a social and cultural shift as well as economic.  In the process new local forms of production emerge, involving producer and consumer working in association.

Responsive Government 
Some have said that the biggest hindrance to transitioning to a fair and sustainable economy is the impasse in our political system, the bickering, the corruption, the cost of campaigns.  Subjects in this area include reforming our current government institutions, deliberative democracy, and other alternative models of participation and decision-making at the local, national and global levels necessary to support the transition to a new economy. Subjects also include methods for measuring well-being instead of measuring growth.

Visioning and Messaging
What will a new economy look like and how do we get there from here?  A new economics will require the development of new curriculum material both in content and presentation.  It will be multi-disciplined, acknowledging that the transition to a new economy will involve a complex cultural change.  It will draw on both the theoretical and practical application.  It will be a distributed learning, relying on social media, informal learning circles, and peer education.  It will require historic examples, systems thinking approaches, economic modeling tools, grass roots community planning, and leadership training for a new generation.