A friend of mine went to the CommonBound conference recently and discovered there is a lot of work being done here in the US as well as in other parts of the world to create a new type of economy that serves everyone rather than just the 1%. The movement is known by a few different names such as “New Economy”, “Solidarity Economy”, and “Just Transition Economy”. She held an initial meeting to share information and get things rolling and the room was packed!
The basic gist is that people working together cooperatively can accomplish great things. The focal points of community action are often organizations such as worker and consumer cooperative corporations (co-ops) as well as other types of non-profits, land trusts, community finance, time banking, and more.
It’s about supporting the local economy and producing things locally. It’s about many small donations and investments joined together to create organizations with enough financial clout that they get a seat at the negotiating table when there are big decisions to be made in your neighborhood, city, or state.
It’s the power of the people being exercised in a very intelligent way. Rather than waiting for the changes we envision to come from within the existing economic system from the top down, we build the solutions we need from the grassroots up! Communities that have invested in themselves in this way over time end up more resilient during difficult economic times.
Here are a number of examples and resources to learn more. There is a group forming in town to look into connecting up with existing efforts and exploring how we might put some of these ideas into action in Eugene. If you are interested send me an email and I will get you more information.
Posted By: Joshua Kielas, 08.05.2018
I had a chance to drop by the new Emerald Village development during a recent open house. Somehow the folks at the non-profit Square One Villages managed to orchestrate a low income tiny house neighborhood and spawn a new community. What an impressive accomplishment!
These are the same folks who created Opportunity Village, which has helped many folks get off the streets and find a place to stabilize and get their lives turned around. But Emerald Village takes their work to the next level! The huge list of architects and developers who contributed time, energy, and designs to the project is a testament to how people can come together for the benefit of those in need. I bet they had a small army of volunteers.
Even though all the houses are not yet completed, the village is officially open and I met a few of the folks who have already moved into their new homes. Everyone seemed quite satisfied with their tiny houses, which often have less than 250 square feet of space inside. I was impressed by many of the innovative designs that combined space saving features to create surprisingly livable homes in such small spaces.
Residents of Emerald Village are members of a housing cooperative and buy a share in the village which enables them to create an asset that can be cashed out when they choose to move out. They have a community agreement which outlines the basic code of conduct that all residents agree to, and requires that each resident participate in helping to manage the village. Residents pay $250 – $350 per month, which covers all maintenance and operating costs. Very cool!
I hope we are exiting the era where state and local governments are in the thrall of developers looking to turn a quick profit rather than be more socially responsible. It is nice to see grassroots efforts solving affordable housing issues today, and it would be great to see more of a movement at the city, county, and state levels to support these kinds of innovative projects. The greed of society has left many people out in the cold and it is time to find our hearts and mend our ways so that nobody has to worry about basic necessities, such as shelter and food, which many of us take for granted.
Posted By: Joshua Kielas, 07.19.2018
I dropped by the federal courthouse to check out the Rush Hour Resistance demonstration that happens there every Tuesday from 5-6pm. I was surprised there weren’t more people standing on the corner with signs. I learned there is a stalwart group that shows up each week to hold down the fort, but even with all the political craziness of the last couple years it has been difficult to get a crowd to come out and make a showing on a regular basis.
It’s nice to know this dedicated group of folks is out there at the courthouse so that anyone who can free up an hour after work to speak out doesn’t have to go it alone. You can make up a sign for your issue and show it to hundreds of people as they drive by after work. It seems to me this is an effort worth supporting!
Posted By: Joshua Kielas, 05.06.2018
The other day I wandered down to New Day Bakery and attended the monthly Green Drinks gathering. No, it has nothing to do with St. Patrick’s Day. It’s one of the longest running progressive social meetups in town. On the second Friday of each month from 5-7 pm a number of locals converge to eat, drink, socialize, and network about issues that matter. Some of the folks I chatted with have been working on issues in town for years, and had interesting perspectives, experience, and stories to share. As much as folks have been disheartened by politics of late, it seems they are also inspired to get involved and do something about it.
Posted By: Joshua Kielas, 04.19.2018