I recently attended the Business Alliance for Local Living Economies (BALLE) conference where I met some amazing entrepreneurs, including friend and colleague Adrian Pyle of the Uniting Church in Australia; all passionately engaged with building and rebuilding sustainable local communities through place-based economic and social development. The passion, commitment and local successes among these amazing people are contagious. Hope abounds along with a sense of urgency: a tipping point is at hand.

 
A presenter at the BALLE Conference, Marjorie Kelly, states in her new book, Owning Our Future: the Emerging Ownership Revolution, the time has come to shift away from dominate, corporate-led, top-down-controlled economy that “extracts” from communities and toward locally led, shared ownership, small business enterprise, generative economies that are restorative and sustainable. Quoting Margaret (Meg) Wheatley, Kelly re-tells a story all-too-common in nearly every corner of extractive capitalism:

“…she’d noticed increasing levels of anxiety in formerly progressive workplaces, with everyone working harder yet seeing years of good efforts swept away. People are required to produce more with fewer resources…and new leadership is highly restrictive and controlling, using fear as a primary motivator”

Kelly goes on to state that “the reason is the forces in control are outside the life of the firm, in capital markets, which are already swollen with excess yet demand still more, every quarter”. Where is the voice of the local community in the extractive, power-over economy? Mostly missing!

 
David Korten writes on similar concepts and approaches in his book, The Great Turning: From Empire to Earth Community (neighborhoods).

 

So do theologian Walter Brueggemann and Asset Based Community Development catalysts and practitioners Peter Block and John McKnight.

 
So, what are communities to do? What are some starting points toward building a new, generative economy? Different names are used by various practitioners and authors to describe it, but they essentially point to local, Asset Based Community Development practices by which locals take the lead to recognize their community assets, organize them into sustainable community-enhancing plans, projects and businesses and retain local control of the economic and social outcomes. Finally, Yes Magazine’s Sarah van Gelder suggests there are at least thirty one ways to re-build local economies.

 
When it comes to local living economies; place, its people, its resources, and its power matter.