Skip to content

Local Economy

Community Organizations Take Ownership Of Local Food Systems

What if there was a way for communities to create a food system, from land ownership to composting, that could sustain itself? Community organizations’ efforts to create a sustainable food ecosystem in Boston’s lower-income neighborhoods offer a window into resident-led food security initiatives in disinvested communities around the country. Dorchester, Roxbury and other majority-minority neighborhoods in the city are home to a grassroots, informal network of community organizations that manage food-related processes ranging from harvest to gardening to composting.

D.C.’s Street Vendor Regulations Formalize The Informal

Informality often makes something beautiful. A rapper freestyling. A jazz musician improvising. A drag queen lip-syncing. Their organic, in-the-moment, uncodified nature is a huge reason they captivate and excite. Street vending is supposed to be the informal version of commerce. In this country, lawmakers and law enforcement have made attempts to codify street vending, and usually it gets pretty ugly, pretty quickly. Maybe this summer in Washington, D.C. will be the start of something different. After years of street vendor-led organizing, earlier this year D.C. Council Members unanimously passed legislation overhauling the District’s street vendor regulations.

East Cleveland Residents Are Building A Closed Loop Economy

Meet Wake Robin Fermented Foods, a small company based in the city of East Cleveland, Ohio, focused on local sustainability. About 90% of its vegetables are sourced from farms in Northeast Ohio; all vegetable waste goes to compost; paper, cardboard and metal is reused or recycled; fermented products are packaged in reusable glass jars. Wake Robin would be impressive if it stood on its own, but it’s part of a larger vision to establish a closed loop, community-owned supply chain in the three square miles comprising East Cleveland. The organization leading the work is called Loiter.

From Shrinking To Resilience – Lessons From The Latvian Rural Parliament

The Latvian Rural Communities Parliament (LRCP) is held biennially with the aim of collaboratively discovering effective solutions and exploring new opportunities for rural development. Its primary focus is to foster cooperation among diverse stakeholders and identify challenges and priorities at the local, regional, national, and European levels. The Community Parliament operates on the principle of equal dialogue, bringing together approximately 300 individuals representing local and regional authorities, businesses, policymakers, academics, rural development experts, and enthusiasts.

Community Investors Are Doing What Big Dollar Retail Investors Won’t

Lyneir Richardson has been helping Black people buy the block since 1991 or 1992. Then a new lawyer at the First National Bank of Chicago, Richardson occasionally had to take on pro-bono assignments that popped up related to the bank’s community reinvestment obligations. One such pro-bono assignment sent him to his childhood neighborhood on the West Side to work on loan documents for a $100,000 loan from a community-based organization to a barbershop on Chicago Avenue. “The amount of the loan, $100,000 or $100 million, didn’t matter. It was the same documents, a promissory note, a mortgage,” Richardson says.

How To Build A Bank To Scale Up Local Food Ecosystems

Charley Cummings had a vision of creating a new, sustainable, local food system. In 2013 he and his wife started their own company in Concord, New Hampshire, delivering grass-fed beef and pasture-raised pork and chicken purchased from farmers in the region and delivered directly to consumers. Along the way, he’s found farmers, food processors, distributors and consumers who are excited to be part of it. But the banks haven’t been interested. “There were farmers and also other types of food businesses, processors and things that wanted to scale alongside us, but seem to have trouble accessing the right type of capital,” says Cummings, who previously worked in commercial composting and management consulting.

California’s ‘Local Food Producers’ Hope New Label Will Boost Support

Despite offices being closed, Sundays are the busiest day of the week at the Marin County Civic Center. Located half an hour north of San Francisco—and within a couple of hundred miles of California’s many agricultural regions, including the Sacramento and San Joaquin valleys and the North and Central coasts—the Sunday Marin Farmers Market is the third largest among the state’s 655 open-air greenmarkets. On busy weekends, crowds of locavores routinely swell to 15,000. “Customers come from all over,” says Gha Xiong, owner of Xiong Farm. He’s one of nearly 150 regional farmers, ranchers and food purveyors who set up Sunday shop in the sprawling parking lot, in clear view of the Prairie-style dome and spire designed by Frank Lloyd Wright.

The Case Of Sustainable Clothing

Since I became familiar with degrowth I have been looking at things more critically. Especially after joining the online master on Degrowth: Ecology, Economics and Policy, I find myself defending the need for transforming a green growth obsessed economy into a degrowth one. Recently, I started working on a project about sustainable fashion focusing on clothing, good practices and youth entrepreneurship. I was sure that presumably sustainable fast fashion practices from big companies such as Zara and H&M would not be on my list of good practices. Although they might use more eco-friendly materials and advocate for these in marketing campaigns, there is still much more to do to address the issue of sustainability and social justice, including fair wages and working conditions throughout their supply chains.

Philadelphia Passes Public Banking Law

With all the obstacles to public banking, a small but significant step was taken in Philadelphia last March. The Philadelphia City Council, with one exception, voted unanimously to establish the Philadelphia Public Finance Authority. Its purpose is to provide credit lines for making loans to help small businesses unable to obtain regular loans from private financial institutions. Many of these enterprises are started by those without access to capital—usually working-class people and people of color. Although not a bank in the traditional sense (the Authority is unable to take deposits from private sources), it can utilize the city’s financial resources to facilitate loans that benefit the community and help stimulate the local economy.

Setting Up A Food Hub: Where Do You Start?

The food system in the UK is largely centralised. We get our food through long and complex supply chains, which don't pay farmers fairly and have shown themselves to be fragile and prone to risk, particularly when confronted with crises, as we saw in the early days of the Covid-19 pandemic and in response to Brexit. Food hubs are often looked to as a promising alternative: appropriate in scale to handle produce from shorter supply chains and smaller farms, they tend to be values-led, agile and resilient. They hold the potential to level out uneven power in food supply chains and improve access to more sustainable food. But how exactly do you start a food hub? We’ve spoken to Laura Stratford, joint coordinator of the Greater Lincolnshire Food Partnership, who are just setting out on their ambition to create a network of food hubs in Lincolnshire.

Eat, Grow, Share: Communities Building Food Resilience

Food can be a great social and cultural leveller. But as the cost of meeting this basic need rises fast for all, the impact is anything but level. Access to nutritious food is uneven and people’s resilience to price rises and scarcity varies massively. Food campaigner and chef Jack Monroe highlighted how rising supermarket prices are not impacting all shoppers evenly. In January, they calculated some basic food items rose by over 300% while the official inflation rate was 5.4%. Meanwhile, the Food Foundation reported that those on the lowest incomes need to spend 47% of cash to meet the government’s healthy diet guidelines, compared with 11% for those with highest incomes. This isn’t a “cost of living” crisis; it’s a cost of inequality crisis.

Portland’s Circular Economy Is Primed For Success

Portland, Oregon - This year’s climate conference, COP 27, focused a lot on loss and damage compensation. The question of who should foot the bill for our current climate crisis has highlighted a growing conversation around planetary boundaries and collective responsibility. The disparate impacts of historical emissions on Global South communities show us that pushing waste, emissions, and externalities out of sight isn’t only unjust, it’s unsustainable. And while these problems continue to unfold on a global scale, each country, city, and locality’s role in perpetuating them — or helping to craft solutions — has been brought to center stage. Portland’s Emerging Circular Economy Sustainable waste reduction requires a transition from a linear economy — one where goods get used for a short period and then wind up in a landfill — to a circular one that prioritizes sharing, repairing, reuse, and creative upcycling.

Achieving Self-Funding Local Sovereignty As Food Systems Collapse

“Deglobalizing” and “dedollarizing” have been much in the news. Reducing dependence on the global supply chain and the U.S. dollar are trends that are happening not just internationally but locally. In the United States, we have seen movements both for local food independence and to divest from Wall Street banks. The burgeoning cryptocurrency movement is another push to “dedollarize” and escape the international bankers’ control grid. This article is a sequel to one discussing home gardens and community food co-ops as local counter-measures to an impending food crisis.

The Radical Roots Of Community Supported Agriculture

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.

Know Thy Farmer

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.
Sign Up To Our Daily Digest

Independent media outlets are being suppressed and dropped by corporations like Google, Facebook and Twitter. Sign up for our daily email digest before it’s too late so you don’t miss the latest movement news.