Community-Supported Agriculture (CSA) is one of those rare ideas which combine transformative potential with an elegant simplicity. The CSA model of funding and sustaining locally-rooted agriculture has grown exponentially around the globe over the past four decades. Since the first formal CSA at Robyn Van En’s Indian Line Farm in South Egremont, Massachusetts in the early 1980s, CSAs have become a household fixture across the US and elsewhere; the most recent estimate by the USDA (2012) counted approximately 13,000 CSA farms in the US alone. The success of community-supported farming has coincided with rising demand for organic food since the late 1970s. But the model’s popularization has meant that, sometimes, CSAs can be misreprented as ‘just another way’ for consumers to purchase fresh, seasonal food.
Their names are Ben and Karah. And they grow my food. I shake hands with and hug them on most Sundays when I visit the farmer’s market in my town. Sometimes I drive out to see Ben and Karah on their farm just outside of town where I pre-order and pick up my food for the week. I walk the farm. I take it in. The pastures, bull calves grazing in the distance, Ben and Karah’s children running down the lane. I duck into a hightunnel greenhouse to see the purple kale variety bursting through the soil in the middle of January (yes, with the right farming practices, you can grow fresh green vegetables in the dead of winter in the soil in Pennsylvania). The same kale that I will sauté for dinner that evening. This is my spiritual practice.
Small businesses build local wealth, with benefits for nearly every aspect of the community and region. They offer a path to prosperity for hard-working entrepreneurs. They keep a larger share of their economic output within the community than businesses with outside ownership, putting that output to work to support schools, public safety, roads, parks, affordable housing, and many other vital public needs. And young, small businesses create the bulk of the nation’s new jobs. But one of the biggest challenges facing America’s communities is leveling the playing field for small businesses and intentionally moving away from the past decade’s Amazon-take-all trajectory. The $1.9 trillion ARPA provides America’s towns and cities with the money and encouragement to do so.
As the world looks towards COP26 for climate action, a newly launched guide shows individuals, communities and policymakers how to make a real hands-on difference in their own localities. Created by international nonprofit Local Futures, the Guide features no less than 146 actions that can help reduce emissions, pollution, consumption and waste, while strengthening local communities and economies. They include everything from growing organic food and moving your money, to setting up farmers’ markets, community investment funds and co-operative businesses. They also include suggestions for those with an eye to policy changes that, frustratingly, have so far been absent from discussion in the COPs – for example, shifting subsidies and regulations to favor local economies instead of global corporations .
Going to the popular market in one of Nicaragua’s Pacific towns is to feel the immense strength of the Nicaraguan people and to discover the real lives that exist behind the lies that the mass media tell about our country. I go to the market and see the stalls full of fresh vegetables and local fruits, I ask for some pieces of ginger and the young woman tells me proudly: “they are today’s, they were cut today… smell them, they are fresh!”. What pride, when in a world where it is a luxury to consume fresh, local products, Nicaragua is full of healthy food for local people to enjoy. I carry on walking and a vegetable seller very kindly says to me “how beautiful your child is, children are so beautiful, you have to take care of them… you must have realised, things are different, …where haven’t I been?
The movement to create public banks is gaining ground in many parts of the U.S., particularly as part of an effort among activists and progressive lawmakers to extend banking access to low-income communities and communities of color in the post-COVID-19 economy. But how does public banking help protect the local community and assist with development? If public banks become part of the Federal Reserve — as a bill introduced by Representatives Rashida Tlaib and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez aims to do — what would be the consequences? Leading progressive economist Gerald Epstein, professor of economics and co-director of the Political Economy Research Institute at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, has studied the issue of public banking extensively and sheds ample light on these questions in this exclusive interview for Truthout.
A report released by the Maryland Center for Economic Policy suggests decreasing the state’s prison budget will lead to a healthier economy and increased public safety. The report, released Wednesday, found that Black Marylanders are 4 1/2 times more likely to serve prison sentences than any other racial or ethnic group. Indigenous Maryland residents are twice as likely to be incarcerated than any other racial or ethnic group. “None of what we’re doing is making any of us safer and it’s most certainly not making those Black communities that are being robbed of human capital ― it’s not making them any safer...
The campaign to “Save MEC” — Mountain Equipment Co-op — has rallied more than 140,000 Canadians together to save a business that is being sold to an American private equity firm. But this grassroots and groundswell campaign wasn’t about saving a retailer; it was about saving a co-op. In fighting for a member-owned, democratic business, the campaign tapped into a passion in Canadians for co-operation. That passion, which drove thousands of people to engage on social media, sign petitions, demand support from banks and donate more than $100,000 to a legal fund to challenge the sale of the co-op, proves that what Canada needs is not another American-owned store but more co-operation — more of doing business in a different way.
One of the particularities of tourism in Nicaragua is its democratization. Since the Sandinista government won elections in 2006 and came to power in 2007, the promotion and expansion of the tourism sector is increasingly important for Nicaraguans, contributing significantly to a rise in incomes for many lower-income families.[i] Contrary to the focus on tourism (or even ‘ecotourism) for export in many countries, the Nicaraguan government’s tourism policies incentivize Nicaraguan working-class family tourism.
This week is very important in Central America, especially in Nicaragua. On September 15, the region celebrates the signing of its declaration of Independence from Spain in 1821. On September 14, another historic milestone is celebrated: The defeat of US filibuster William Walker and his troops by Nicaraguan forces in 1856. Walker had repealed laws prohibiting slavery in an attempt to get the support of US southern states. US President Franklin Pierce recognized Walker’s as the legitimate government of Nicaragua an endeavor to bring Nicaragua under US control that failed over and over again with the Nicaraguan people throughout history.
At Waseda Farms in Baileys Harbor, store manager Sayard Geeve said, “The phone is ringing off the hook.” Flying Tractor Farm in Sturgeon Bay has been selling more of its meat products. Cold Climate Farms in Nasewaupee is getting calls from people asking whether its staff can ship food. As the COVID-19 outbreak spreads throughout the country and here on the peninsula, local farms are affected differently from many other operations. Farmers with products available now are coming up with new ways to safely get their food to customers, and as they prepare now for the outdoor growing season, they’re dealing with uncertainty about what their customer base will be this summer. Farms that produce year-round have seen an important, regular revenue source dwindle or disappear.
On March 12, I shared five #LocalYear commitments to help me go more local. Little did I know how local things would get in just one week. The next day local schools closed due to the coronavirus. Three days later six San Francisco Bay Area counties, including ours, issued a “shelter in place” order affecting seven million people in California’s coronavirus hotspot. Three days after that, Gov. Gavin Newsom did the same for all of California. Ordinary life in California has come to a near standstill. Birdsong has replaced the howl of traffic in my neighborhood. Downtown Mountain View is a near ghost town. Many shops and restaurants are closed, some for good. Aside from daily walks, my family is staying at ground zero of local — our house.
The COVID-19 pandemic offers intriguing insights into how networked our modern world has become, and how we’ve traded resilience for economic efficiency. Case in point: someone gets sick in China in December of 2019, and by March of 2020 the US shale oil industry is teetering on the brink. What set off this unraveling? It was China’s deliberate—and arguably necessary—pull-back from economic connectivity. This tells us something useful about networked systems: unless there is a lot of redundancy built into them, any one node in the network can affect others. If it’s an important node (China has become the center of world manufacturing), it can disrupt the entire system. What would redundancy actually mean?
War profiteers deliver hellish realities and futile prospects, but the Afghan Peace Volunteers have not given up on bettering their country. In recent visits to Kabul, we’ve listened as they consider the longer-term question of how peace can come to an economically devastated country where employment by various warlords, including the U.S. and Afghan militaries, is many families’ only way to put bread on the table. Hakim, who mentors the APVs, assures us that a lasting peace must involve the creation of jobs and incomes with a hope of sustaining community.
By Erica Etelson for Truthout - During a panel discussion this May on Community Choice Energy, a rapidly growing initiative in California and six other states that enables communities to seize control of local electricity services, I argued for the economic benefits of building out local, decentralized renewable energy assets such as rooftop and community solar arrays. I was followed by a panelist who chided my “misguided” belief in the virtue of locally-generated, clean energy. “Who cares whether our electricity is locally generated?” he quipped. “I’ve never heard of anyone demanding local pants, and local electricity doesn’t make any more sense than local pants.”