Thursday, November 12, 2015

"If globalization is the hallmark of today’s mainstream economy, relocalization is the hallmark of the alternative."

Photo credit: Community Matters

"The plan to build better, more connected, flourishing communities is here—and it won’t require putting a Starbucks on every block."

It's funny the authors should mention Starbucks, seeing as I'd just mentioned the coffee giant on social media.

Rather than becoming aesthetically outraged by the cookie cutter chains (Starbucks hates Jesus, Chick-fil-A is anti-gay) why not ignore the distractions and come to the point: They're bad for your community economically. Follow the money, not the matador's cape. Independent local businesses are better for the local economy. More money stays here and recirculates. When you shift spending to the local economy, you're making a genuine difference. To repeat: Follow the money ... and death to chains. Enjoy your Monday.

A good discussion followed, which did not neglect oft-noted expressions of dissent, with varying degrees of relevance: "But I like chains," and "big companies create jobs and give back, too," and "localism is the new mercantilism."

Subsequently, Jeff G helpfully pointed to the following article, which outlines the parameters of a localist's alternative. It's what I was saying throughout the mayoral campaign, albeit nowhere near as clearly as stated here. It's what we've discussed for years in the context of organizations like AMIBA and writers such as Michael Shuman.

Excerpts are provided below, but PLEASE CLICK THROUGH AND READ THE ARTICLE IN ITS ENTIRETY, especially if you're an independent local business owner. Nothing can be done to change the fact that we've just now re-elected a cadre of politicians and functionaries willfully ignorant of these principles, but even they cannot impede our progress at a grassroots level if -- it's a big "if" -- we decide to unify, organize and bypass them.

I've underlined a few key passages.

7 Paths to Development That Bring Neighborhoods Wealth, Not Gentrification, by Marjorie Kelly and Sarah McKinley (Yes Magazine)

In cities across the nation, a few enjoy rising affluence while many struggle to get by.

An August 2015 study by The Century Foundation reported that—after a dramatic decline in concentrated poverty between 1990 and 2000—poverty has since reconcentrated. Nationwide, the number of people living in high-poverty ghettos and slums has nearly doubled since 2000. This situation is created in part by the practices of traditional economic development, which prioritize corporate subsidy after corporate subsidy over the needs of the local economy. Current trends threaten to worsen, unless we can answer the design challenge before us.

Can we create an economic system—beginning at the local level—that builds the wealth and prosperity of everyone?

Economic development professionals and mayors are working in partnership with foundations, anchor institutions, unions, community organizations, progressive business networks, workers, and community residents. What’s emerging is a systems approach to creating an inclusive, sustainable economy where all can thrive. The work is place-based, fed by the power of anchor institutions, and built on locally rooted and broadly held ownership. It’s about building community wealth across the United States—in more places than most would imagine, a new kind of economy is beginning to appear. It’s an economy that, because of its fundamental design, tends naturally to create inclusion and prosperity for many, not simply for the few.

1. Place
2. Ownership
3. Multipliers
4. Collaboration
5. Inclusion
6. Workforce
7. System

The seven drivers of community wealth building work together. Starting with a devotion to a place, this approach builds on local assets of many kinds. At the heart of it all is an inclusive focus on the needs of low-income families, people of color, and those with barriers to employment. The end goal is a new system that helps broadly held community wealth to flourish.

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