Local Economies Project | The New World Foundation

Local Economies Project

A Syllabus for the New Economy


The Local Economies Project is part of an emerging field that is dedicated to building a “new economy” that promotes equity and environmental resilience alongside economic security. Our work finds us collaborating with partners to build new initiatives that promote local ownership of business, community self-reliance, and education.

Whether it is nurturing initiatives that get more local food into school cafeterias or helping to launch a “complementary currency” in the Hudson Valley, LEP and its partners are often referred to as pioneers. We couple our efforts in the field with careful study of a growing amount of scholarship around “new economy” approaches.

This year, we were fortunate to be able host in-house roundtable discussions with visiting experts such as Michael Shuman, author and co-founder of the national Business Alliance for Local Living Economies (BALLE). A second guest was Kali Akuno, community organizer and co-director of Cooperation Jackson, a non-profit working to build a solidarity economy in Jackson, Mississippi. These rich dialogues allowed us, as a group, to deepen our understanding of local economics and community building through two very distinct yet compatible viewpoints.

We have also started a study group for staff from our Kingston office and the Hudson Valley Farm Hub. Each monthly meeting begins with a dinner of local food, and our first discussions have centered around David Korten’s “Agenda for a New Economy,” which I consider to be a good primer on the limitations of our current economy and a roadmap for change.

Next on our reading list? There are several volumes from which we will choose. Our list, which I also recommend to those reading this post, includes:

  • “Owning Our Future: The Emerging Ownership Revolution” by Marjorie Kelly
  • “The Local Economy Solution: How Innovative, Self-Financing ‘Pollinator’ Enterprises Can Grow Jobs and  Prosperity” by Michael H. Shuman
  • “Cities and the Wealth of Nations” by Jane Jacobs
  • “Small Is Beautiful: Economics as if People Mattered” by E.F. Schumacher
  • “America the Possible: Manifesto for a New Economy” by James Gustave Speth
  • “Deep Economy: The Wealth of Communities and the Durable Future” by Bill McKibben
  • “Good Morning Beautiful Business” by Judy Wicks
  • “Slow Money” by Woody Tasch

If you’d like to add these to your bookshelf, remember to support your local independently owned bookseller or consult your neighborhood public library!

Contributed by Bob Dandrew, Director, Local Economies Project

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