Local Living Through The Climate Crisis

Part 3: How to Get to The “Next Economy”

EDITORIAL COLLECTIVE – Part One of this series delved into the importance of relearning and nurturing a true “sense of place” that can lead to the local knowledge, caring and action needed to re-adapt ourselves and community to worsening climate change.

In Part Two, we saw how the existing fossil-fuelled economy cannot last as it constantly depletes its own life support system by still attempting endless growth. We introduced the notion of the “Next Economy” – scaling our local living to the reality of the boundaries of Earth systems.

In short, an economy where:

  • citizens work with their local money, institutions, natural endowments (resources), energy sources, knowledge and native crops and species, and
  • where the global marketplace is replaced, as much and as soon as possible, by local goods and services.

Before globalization, most people acquired, from family or apprenticeships, most of the skills needed to furnish themselves with a practical livelihood in or near the place they dwelt. The global market place for labour demands hyper-specialized skills but overlooks those practical skills for making a local livelihood. However, people with those skills and technologies of simpler living (e.g. machine shop, ploughing with horses, gardening, sewing, community organizing, repairing) will be in high demand in a localized economy. Note: this is not saying that the digital world will disappear!

Six questions toward imagining the Next Economy

Economic localization is the process of organizing our economy to a scale appropriate to its gifts from Nature and our human resources. The aim is resilience in the face of a very different future of worsening climate change. We won’t get to that resilient state without a whole community effort − local governments and citizens working together to achieve and sustain it.

One of the vital capacities we’ll need is that of civil discourse across various interests and their representative groups around questions like:

  1. What does “wellbeing” look like during the long climate crisis if it is uncoupled from endless economic growth and GDP? Where does meaning lie if we seek it beyond fulfilling material goals?
  2. What more do we need to know about our local, natural characteristics − climate, water, soils, geography, natural resources, native crops and species, indigenous knowledge − in order to define our economic locale?
  3. What essentials can/should we localize first? (including consumer goods and financing tools.)
  4. What is the viable market size needed?
  5. What is the role of local, official economic development bodies and their initiatives in birthing the Next Economy?
  6. What essential and everyday goods and services will we value for their greater social and ecological value and produce locally or regionally that may not factor highly in calculating Gross Domestic Product?
  7. What inclusive, consultative ways of talking to each other (including in municipal governance) will support local communities in creating the Next Economy?

Community building is climate adaptation

Peterborough municipalities created Climate Action Plans in 2014 using a fully open and participatory process. Similarly, now, we can create the Next Economy for Local Living. And the times are even more urgent now. “Next level” thinking, new connections across old lines, and full participation from as many citizens as possible is needed to bring a local economy into being.

(An inspiring “how to” example is “The Town That Food Saved” by Ben Hewitt, available many places online.)

“we know our inaction and inertia
will be the inheritance of the next generation.”

Amanda Gorman

All this sounds so neat, even dry, like a recipe on a box or a policy proposal. But it is very, very urgent. Community-building methods abound at local levels. Organized, focused, concerted action is itself an essential climate change adaptation if we are to secure a livable, peaceful future in all parts of the Peterborough area, City and County.

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres has said:

“Greenhouse gas emissions keep rising. And our planet is fast approaching tipping points that will make climate chaos irreversible. We are on a highway to climate hell with our foot on the accelerator.”

This month, we passed one of those ominous “tipping points” − a further 1.5⁰C of Earth warming, and it’s still climbing. We will feel the impact of that rise more and more. [SEE the Greenzine article “The Night of the Banner

– Series Index –

  • Part 1: We Are Children of Our Local Geography
  • Part 2: The Next Economy
  • Part 3: How to Get to The “Next Economy”

Local Living Through The Climate Crisis Part 3: How to Get to The “Next Economy” © 2023 by Editorial Collective in the Greenzine is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 4.0

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