Community Articles from 2016
Buying Local Is the Key to Strong Regional Economies
By Susan Witt
Posted April 1, 2016
In the leaky bucket analogy for local economies, money flows into a region to circulate through local businesses like water into a bucket. Water that leaks out is money that escapes the local economy to pay for imports. The more watertight the bucket, the more wealth retained.
Spurred by a growing appreciation for local food, citizens, businesses, non-profits, and governmental organizations have begun to work together to build regional food systems. But what else might be sourced locally? What can citizens do to thwart the leaky bucket syndrome of their own local economies? More…
What Wall Street Cost Denver’s Schools
by Matt Stannard
Posted March 30, 2016
Colorado’s diverse economy, recently given a boost by revenue from legal marijuana distribution, is generally in good shape. But as of early 2016. Denver Public Schools, the largest school district in the state, was hobbling economically, cutting as many as 170 faculty and staff positions.
Wall Street had devastated DPS by collecting hundreds of millions of dollars in termination fees on swap deals—as much as $215.6 million “unwind” interest rate swaps the district had hoped would cut pension costs back in 2008. That figure was equivalent to two-thirds of the district’s annual teaching expenses. More…
Fresh Water Supply – The Greatest Climate Change Issue
By Richard Mills
Posted March 28, 2016
Water is a commodity whose scarcity will have a profound effect on the world within the next decade – water scarcity makes the reevaluation of our values mandatory. We will have to drastically change the way in which we view our freshwater as a resource.
The greatest issue facing us in the 21st century is how we will use and share the planets less than half a per cent of usable freshwater. Climate change is causing the Earth to warm, precipitation is shifting from the mid-latitudes to the low and high latitudes – wet areas are becoming wetter and dry areas drier. Less rainfall in the mid-latitudes means less new water to refill the aquifers that are being depleted the fastest. More…
Building a Local Peace Economy: We Have the Power
By Judy Wicks
Posted March 21, 2016
Most economic transactions we make in our daily lives ultimately contribute toward building a peace economy or a war economy, a world of compassion and well being, or a world of indifference and violence. Have you ever imagined that we consumers have such power? Likely not.
Materialism teaches us simply to spend without thinking. But there are consequences to our everyday economic decisions that cumulatively build an economic system that has tremendous impact on other people, and our entire planet.
Materialism and militarism are closely related. Along with racism they form the giant triple evils that Dr. King called upon us to defeat. Each of the three leads us toward cruelty and war, and each depends on a complacent citizenry. By becoming informed about the impact of our decisions and learning to use our economic power mindfully we have the ability to co-create an economy that works for all and bring into being the world we want to live in—one that is healthy, just and peaceful. More…
What Is the Common Good?
By Noam Chomsky
Posted February 9, 2016
Humans are social beings, and the kind of creature that a person becomes depends crucially on the social, cultural and institutional circumstances of his life. We are therefore led to inquire into the social arrangements that are conducive to people’s rights and welfare, and to fulfilling their just aspirations – in brief, the common good.
For perspective I’d like to invoke what seem to me virtual truisms. They relate to an interesting category of ethical principles: those that are not only universal, in that they are virtually always professed, but also doubly universal, in that at the same time they are almost universally rejected in practice. More…
How Finland broke every rule — and created a top school system
by William Doyle
Posted February 29, 2016
It’s not just a “Nordic thing” Spend five minutes in Jussi Hietava’s fourth-grade math class in remote, rural Finland, and you may learn all you need to know about education reform – if you want results, try doing the opposite of what American “education reformers” think we should do in classrooms.
Instead of control, competition, stress, standardized testing, screen-based schools and loosened teacher qualifications, try warmth, collaboration, and highly professionalized, teacher-led encouragement and assessment.
Here, as in any other Finnish school, teachers are not strait-jacketed by bureaucrats, scripts or excessive regulations, but have the freedom to innovate and experiment as teams of trusted professionals. Here, in contrast to the atmosphere in American public schools, Hietava and his colleagues are encouraged to constantly experiment with new approaches to improve learning. More…
A Public Bank in Philadelphia
By Mike Krauss
Posted February 28, 2016
A new idea, a big idea was set in motion on Monday for the City of Philadelphia. Following a unanimous vote by City Council on a resolution introduced by Council members Curtis Jones, Jr., Derek Green and Helen Gym, a hearing was held to begin the process of forming a public bank for the city, modeled on the hugely successful Bank of North Dakota (BND).
The City Council resolution said in part: “The creation of a public bank offers the possibility of achieving multiple policy objectives, including stimulating economic development, spurring job creation, reducing municipal debt service, and expanding the tax base, through direct, long-term local lending at below-market rates.”
Similar proposals are now being discussed in more than three dozen city councils, county commissions and state legislatures across the nation. Only weeks before, the city of Santa Fe, NM and an independent citizens committee each released a study affirming the benefits of such a bank and supporting its creation for that city. More…
Time is Money: Building Local Solidarity Through Time Banking
By Derek Royden
Posted February 21, 2016
We hear a lot about the “sharing economy” these days, with many mainstream political and economic thinkers touting it as a solution to the chronic under employment faced by workers in this ongoing Great Recession. Certain things that have been lumped into this new economic model, like open source software and crowd-sourced sites like Wikipedia, are indeed revolutionary, but these are treated as secondary to the somewhat more traditional businesses that get most of the hype.
The idea of time as currency is an easy one for most people to accept, considering that most of us are already paid an hourly wage for our labor. In North America this has been one of the keys to the success of time banking. It is both easy to understand in terms of the way we already work and, with a little enthusiasm, these programs are relatively uncomplicated to set up and manage. More…
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