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Why this flurry of activity? For one thing, it’s part of the natural flow of things. These concepts have been around for a while; it takes time for them to travel from the margin to the mainstream. This evolutionary process is being aided and abetted by the current economic implosion, which is transforming perceptions—what once seemed radical now seems practical and necessary—and lighting a fire under creative economic alternatives.
So pause for a moment, if you will, and imagine what it would be like to live in a Hudson Valley with its own robust and resilient economy. It would still be connected to the world beyond—the global village isn’t going away—but we’d all be leaning on one another more (cue the Rolling Stones) instead of scrabbling to get to the shriveling global teat. Lots of us would be using a local currency and giving (and getting) at the Time Bank.
Banking On It
The resilient local economy of the future would receive additional bolstering from institutions that haven’t made it to the Hudson Valley yet. Imagine a financial institution that takes the locally owned bank concept one step further by providing innovative services like free local credit-card processing for local businesses and microloans for new businesses and community projects—and that also dedicates all profits to schools and other nonprofits. If you find this hard to do, then wait a bit. If Kingston resident Sean Griffin has his way, a Common Good Bank designed along precisely these lines will be available to local residents before the year’s end.
Of course, there’s still the wee challenge of getting from where we are now to the vibrant local economy of our imagination. How to do it? First: Keep the faith. This promised transformation is getting more real by the day. Second: Make it happen. If we’re going to be weaned from the global teat, the only people who can do it are…that’s right, us. Nothing comes for free. Empowerment and autonomy bear a price: responsibility.
Is this a burden? A little, maybe. But it’s also an opportunity, and an upbeat one at that. Creating a resilient local economy isn’t a dour, solitary, Sisyphean exercise. It’s about working alongside our friends and neighbors to create a better future. It’s about connecting more, and better.
Sounds like fun to me.