Robert (Bob) Swann was the founder of the E. F. Schumacher Society, now the Schumacher Center for a New Economics. In 1974 E. F. Schumacher asked Robert Swann to start a sister organization to his own Intermediate Technology Development Group, but it was not until 1980, when prompted by Resurgence editor Satish Kumar, that Swann organized the E. F. Schumacher Society in Great Barrington, Massachusetts. Its work now constitutes a direct link with Schumacher’s philosophy and is a tangible embodiment of his message.
Schumacher chose wisely. Robert Swann brought the pragmatic skills of a builder to his lifelong commitment to both community and decentralized economics. Before founding the Society he worked with Ralph Borsodi to issue a commodity-backed currency in Exeter, New Hampshire, a forerunner of today’s local currencies. In 1978 he launched the Community Investment Fund, one of the first investment initiatives with socially responsible criteria, anticipating a national movement in social investment.
His 1960s civil rights work led to an effort to secure land for African-American farmers. With Slater King he founded New Communities in Albany, Georgia, using documents modeled on those of the Jewish National Fund. As founder of the Institute for Community Economics he helped other groups around the country form similar community land trusts, which earned him the title of father of the American land reform movement.
Bob passed away peacefully at his home in South Egremont, Massachusetts on January 13, 2003. In his honor we continue our work to promote the widespread use of local currencies.