Strategies for a New Economy 2012 Conference Videos

  • Ownership and Work: When business is owned by capital instead of by workers and stakeholders, an uneven distribution of wealth inevitably occurs.  The Democracy Collaborative at the University of Maryland has specialized in researching 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.  Members of the Collaborative will describe these differing forms of ownership and point to the growing number of applications.  Workshop presenters will come from both theoretical and applied backgrounds, representing private and public examples of businesses with new ownership structures and demonstrating how these have contributed to social justice, economic development, secure and fulfilling jobs, and sound management of the commons. 
  • Local Economies: The Local Economy Movement is considered by many to be the engine of the new economy.  Vibrant, energetic, 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.  Founding members of BALLE (Business Alliance for Local Living Economies) will frame this theme and provide an overview of the movement.  In Vermont a public/private effort is working to make the state more self-sufficient in food and energy production; those involved will share their strategy for this.   In Connecticut a citizen group is working to bridge the income gap with creation of more jobs to meet import-replacement goals.  We will hear success stories that inspire replication.
  • 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? Peter Barnes, author of "Who Owns the Sky", will frame this theme offering definitions of the commons and presenting mechanisms to ensure fair allocation and distribution of income for use.  He will be joined by speakers in the community land trust movement and conservation land trust movement as well as those working with indigenous rights to land.  Workshops will also examine attempts to restore the commons through ecology-promoting agriculture in rural and urban contexts, including experiences from Costa Rica, the United Kingdom and the United States.
  • Messaging: 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.  Where is this new economics training emerging? Panelists include representatives of the Global Development And Environment Institute at Tufts University, the Gund Institute at University of Vermont, the Sustainability Institute at Bard College, the Economics in Transition Program at Schumacher College in England, and student organizers of the March 2012 Transition to a New Economy conference at Harvard University. Relatedly, speaker will discuss how we can best bring the story of this emerging movement to attention of media and build public campaigns that lead change.
  • 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.
  • Measuring Well-Being: Gross Domestic Product (GDP) has long been used by economists to measure wealth and progress, but is it really a measure of our well-being?  The presenters on this theme will argue that other factors must be considered to account for ecological health, quality of life, and well being.  The workshops will showcase some of the popular alternative indicators, consider how these have been applied at the policy level, and give specific examples of putting these new measures into practice. Speakers from the United Kingdom’s Centre for Well Being will present their work, which includes the innovative Happy Planet Index. Researchers at Demos in New York will share their extensive US-based work.  Practitioners will describe steps they have implemented for measuring quality of life at the city and state level.
  • Responsive Government: Some have said that the biggest hindrance to transitioning to a fair and sustainable new economy is the impasse in our political system, the bickering, the corruption, the cost of campaigns.  Panelists in the Responsive Government theme will discuss the forms of governance, participation and action—at local, national and global levels—necessary to support the transition to a new economy. Speakers will move from an initial focus on reforming our current government institutions to discussion about deliberative democracy and alternative models of participation and decision-making.
  • 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?  These are some of the questions discussed under this theme from both a theoretical and applied point of view.  Panels will examine the nature of money, its origins, its status as a commodity, and its place in social relationship and language. Other panels will examine specific contemporary examples of regional currencies including 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?  Presentations will include talks on public, cooperative and community banking, citizen-organized community financing programs, radical impact investing, and the role of government in financial reform. 
  • Visioning and Modeling: What will a new/green/resilient/just/sustainable economy look like and how do we get there from here?  That is the question addressed under this theme, providing a framework, a long view on the subject.  Workshops will cover historic examples, systems thinking approaches, economic modeling tools, grass roots community planning, and leadership training for a new economy.  Workshop presenters include Richard Norgaard, Peter Victor, Stewart Wallis, Neva Goodwin, and Otto Scharmer.