Originally published in the Monadnock Shopper News
What is a Local Living Economy? In November 2009, a group of 70 local entrepreneurs, community leaders, students and engaged citizens gathered at Keene State College’s Seventh Biennial Symposium “From Local to Global” to answer this question. The consensus: A Local Living Economy is a resilient system that improves our quality of life, meets everyone’s basic needs and creates an engaged citizenry.
With that definition agreed upon, we now move on to the next question: How do we cultivate a stronger Local Living Economy? Judy Wicks, co-founder of the Business Alliance for Local Living Economies (BALLE) and key participant in the November 2009 discussion, shared, “In order to build a local living economy, we must first determine what one looks like—what are the components, or building blocks, a vision of a local living economy that we can work toward achieving?” The Hannah Grimes Center and Monadnock Buy Local, both members of BALLE, are working to identify the building blocks of our Monadnock Local Living Economy—and we invite you to participate.
One way to join the conversation is virtually. Monadnock Buy Local is engaging its 1,200 online participants to help identify our region’s building blocks. Each month, we will focus on a different Local Living Economy component, from agriculture to transportation, gleaning from you—the individuals, businesses and organizations currently engaged in this work. Connect with the conversation on our website and Facebook Page.
Once information on each building block is collected, Keene State College Local Living Economy interns, working with the Hannah Grimes Center, will review what’s been gathered and look for patterns to help “connect the dots” in our region. BALLE’s website states, “Rather than choosing one sector within which to work, BALLE networks recognize that sustainable local communities and economies are based on the systemic relationship between these building blocks. We don’t prioritize or isolate the importance of energy efficiency from investing in local energy production, or ‘green’ buildings from the health of their occupants, or the viability of local farms from the prosperity of the grocers to whom they sell.”
While Monadnock Buy Local focuses its work online, the Hannah Grimes Center is engaging community on the ground. Antioch University New England student Libby Weiland is serving as Collaboration Coordinator for this project. She shares, “I am working to gather the best practices related to collaboration building. My research will not only involve gleaning from the good work of groups collaborating in the area, but will also provide interested groups with the tools needed to create even stronger, lasting, and effective collaborative efforts.”
Together, we are looking at the system that drives our Local Living Economy. This type of holistic thinking takes work, but it can result in better problem solving leading to more positive and lasting changes in our community. As scientist and systems thinker Peter Senge states, “Systems thinking is a discipline for seeing wholes. It is a framework for seeing interrelationships rather than things, for seeing patterns of change rather than static snapshots. Fragmentation, competition, and reactiveness are not problems to be solved–they are frozen patterns of thought to be dissolved.”
For more information about the Monadnock Local Living Economy Project, contact the Hannah Grimes Center at 603-352-5063 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Monadnock Buy Local is a network of locally-owned and independent businesses, organizations and citizens working together to encourage more people to think “local first” to help our communities & local economy grow: http://monadnocklocal.com.