Measuring Immeasurable Change

Ethical Markets Community Development Solutions, Ethical Markets Review

“We at Ethical Markets  are happy to Publish  this original  article by Paul Glover, one of the true pioneers of local development and true wealth and sustainable communities,” Hazel Henderson, – Editor

by Paul Glover

There’s obvious need for a new Economy of Generosity, to repair communities and nature.  Heroic efforts are being made to promote this direction, but green progress lags grey decay.

Gatekeepers of the old economy will continue to destroy the future exactly as long as they run the only game in town. All of our perfect econometric proposals, polite lobbying, angry marches and moral indignation will not alone prevail.  America’s rich, middle class and poor will all fight over the scraps of normal life unless practical alternatives take root.

Therefore translating good ideas from theory to reality requires real world models.  These must meet basic needs for food, heat, housing, health care and finance, without waiting for Wall Street or Washington.  Such programs will clear paths for money to follow.

During the past 35 years I’ve created a dozen prototypes of this mutual enterprise economy– neither capitalist nor socialist– which celebrate bioregional efforts to revive the planet.

Among these are a community currency which has transacted millions of dollars value while making interest-free loans; a health co-op whose members paid $100/YEAR to be covered for common emergencies and to own their own free clinic; an urban orchard movement that confronts gentrification and feeds the poor; and the original CItizen Planners movement (1978).

These each extend a welcome to capital, inviting investors to become rich and have fun.  There are trillions of dollars to be made, and full employment gained, by rebuilding civilization.

The world’s millions of worker-owned co-ops, organic farmers and green businesses need bioregional stock exchanges, to gather capital for ecodevelopment. Ten years ago I drafted plans for the Whole Ithaca Stock Exchange (WISE).  Upon moving to Phladelphia, a city 50 times bigger, I rescaled the plan as the Philadelphia Regional & Independent Stcock Exchange (PRAISE), and added the Securities and Ecologies Commission (SEC).

The SEC offers the first numerically-weighted indicators of green progress for a specific city.

At the same time, we’ll need to redefine capital.  Money is not merely national currencies, all of which are in debt to nature.  Real money is backed by networks of skills, natural resources and goods, land, time, tools and affections.  And it is denominated by hours of labor, the new gold standard.

Creating such catalogs of credits entails labor-intensive networking, by professional community networkers.  The green economy will be based on this humble foundation.

Finally, the challenge of change is not primarily to the rich alone, though they risk their luxuries by isolating themselves on our increasingly desperate and unhealthy planet– yachts sink during revolution, famine and contagion.  The middle class, for its part, needs to focus more more upon its liberties than its properties, to create more than it consumes, to make fewer payments and more change.  The poor themselves need to lower their costs of living, by converting grassroots programs into powerful national movements.

Capital markets have heretofore controlled us.  Hereafter they can connect us.

Paul Glover