What is bottom up economics? | BottomUpEconomy

What is bottom up economics? | BottomUpEconomy

This is the transition from concentrated wealth to worker ownership and community capital. In seeking to solve problems and build community wealth through the economy, they are also building regional and national networks of learning and exchange, of public discourse and policy, to strengthen and magnify their work.

Bottom-up economics is not about socialism but does enable capitalism. Socialism would mean nationalizing our industries and taking your businesses and property. Investing in what our people and businesses need to thrive enables capitalism to work for all of us!

What is bottom up economics? | BottomUpEconomy
What is bottom up economics? | BottomUpEconomy

What is the bottom-up economy?

 

Consider what do people need to thrive and what do businesses need to exist and succeed. To thrive, people need health care, education, infrastructure, research, safe communities, community development, and safety nets. Most businesses do not exist without healthy and educated employees, without infrastructure, without research, without safe communities, without community development, and without safety nets. The necessary conditions for people and businesses are these Basic Public Investments (BPI’s).

Bottom-up economics consists of three elements: Our Basic Public Investments, plus Valuing All Workers, plus a Fair System. This video focuses on the BPIs but overviews the importance of Valuing All Workers, and a Fair System.

 

These emerging, bottom up economies recognize the power of the market, but also its limits and problems. … “The economy” is made up of scores of smaller, regional economies, which in turn are built on the economic activities of households, neighborhoods and communities.

These emerging, bottom up economies recognize the power of the market, but also its limits and problems. … “The economy” is made up of scores of smaller, regional economies, which in turn are built on the economic activities of households, neighborhoods and communities.

There are many reasons why Anthony Flaccavento can’t stop talking and writing about the need to expand upon local “bottom up economy” success stories.  The near collapse of Wall Street in 2008 precipitated a global economic recession that put millions of people out of work and forced local and state agencies into widespread cutbacks. The economic decline also demonstrated just how vulnerable most communities have become, particularly in Rural America. At the same time, mounting evidence of climate change surrounds us, from rapidly melting glaciers and Antarctic ice sheets, to prolonged droughts and other severe weather. And the problems aren’t just in the atmosphere: over the past 100 years, the amount of productive land available per capita has shrunk dramatically, from 14 acres per person worldwide to just over 3.5 acres.

 

Top-down and bottom-up are both strategies of information processing and knowledge ordering, used in a variety of fields including software, humanistic and scientific theories, and management and organization. In practice, they can be seen as a style of thinking, teaching, or leadership.

WHY IS UP-BOTTOM ECONOMY NOT WORKING?

The global economy has witnessed important changes in recent years. In the United States, enterprising communities have transitioned from tobacco farming to growing organic produce, from extractive fishing to vertical farming, from nonrenewable energy consumption to the implementation of solar cooperatives — and have transformed from impoverished neighborhoods into green development zones. Yet these promising achievements remain a small part of the total economy and are largely ignored by policy makers, pundits, and economists. In Building a Healthy Economy from the Bottom Up: Harnessing Real World Experience for Transformative Change, Anthony Flaccavento introduces readers to the innovators who are creating thriving, locally based economies and provides a road map for others who are interested in doing the same. He demonstrates that, despite the success of local initiatives like farmers’ markets and clean energy cooperatives, true and lasting change of this type stalls without the appropriate discussion and implementation of public policies that define their lasting impact. He shows how active citizens can spur essential changes, generate community capital, increase civic dialogue, and foster sustainability efforts. Flaccavento skillfully combines economic analysis and public policy recommendations with practical solutions. His call to collective action will appeal to scholars, entrepreneurs, policymakers, community activists, environmentalists, and all citizens passionate about the health of their communities.

Can we simply grow our way out of this, or do we need a new approach, a new vision of prosperity?

Many Americans equate democracy with the free market, believing that you cannot have political freedom without “free market” capitalism, and that any limits on the market, whether they are limits on consumers or on businesses and corporations, are an infringement on political liberty and democracy.

Yet from Arizona to Vermont, Anthony “Tony” Flaccavento and many, many others have helped foster the emergence of a very different reality, where the health of local communities and the prosperity of everyday people is the starting point. These emerging, bottom up economies recognize the power of the market, but also its limits and problems.  The farmers, entrepreneurs, and activists in those communities are writing a new story, one that is unfolding something like this:

“The economy” is made up of scores of smaller, regional economies, which in turn are built on the economic activities of households, neighborhoods and communities. New economies are emerging to make people’s lives better, fuller, happier and more secure, because the economy after all is for people, not the other way around. This is the transition from consumptive dependency to productive resilience.

These local and regional economies are built around a diverse array of businesses, from the most traditional to the newest and most experimental, but all with strong links to their local communities. There is a growing recognition among these businesses that they must not only serve their customers and workers, but also respect the places where they reside, finding ways to conduct business utilizing the gifts and respecting the limits of the ecosystem of which they’re a part. This is the transition from trickle down problems to bottom up, living solutions.

These emerging economies are building upon the strengths and assets of their particular places, including the culture, the unique skills of the people, the built environment and the natural world. In this way, businesses and the economy develop distinctly rather than generically, and cannot easily be replaced or outsourced. The ownership of these businesses is primarily in private hands, though increasingly they are also owned by the workers, the producers, the customers or the community. This is the transition from concentrated wealth to worker ownership and community capital.

In seeking to solve problems and build community wealth through the economy, they are also building regional and national networks of learning and exchange, of public discourse and policy, to strengthen and magnify their work. This is the transition from a thousand flickers of light to networks linked together for learning, doing and change.

While respecting their histories and traditions, these increasingly vibrant communities are also cultivating social entrepreneurship and supporting economic innovation, new forms of media and the arts, community design and civic engagement. They are reinvigorating the public sphere as well as the private. This is the transition from concentrated corporate media to energizing civic conversations.

Most fundamentally of all, these emerging economies and energized communities are beginning to ask not “How are we going to create jobs?” but “What is the work that needs to be done?” In this way, fundamental economic choices are becoming fundamental public choices, based on the health and well-being of people, on the prosperity of communities. This is the transition from a politics of lobbyists and money to a community-based politics of engagement.

 

Bottom Up is a comprehensive primer on the transition to a new economy—the place-based movement to rewire the economy for equity and ecological sustainability. It is rich in stories and detail for the curious or discouraged and those seeking a strategy to move toward a sustainable and equitable future. Flaccavento excels as a storyteller, reporting on successful “bottom-up” ventures and experiments in building new systems around food, energy, health services, worker ownership, community finance, and place-based arts and culture.

Flaccavento’s perspective is grounded in his work as a farmer, entrepreneur, and candidate for Congress, with decades of experience building a regional food system and relocalized economy in southern Virginia. While he lifts up inspiring examples of urban local economy projects, he also deeply understands the challenges facing rural communities that have been bypassed by the lopsided economic gains of the past four decades. In regions like southern Virginia, where the median income is below $30,000 a year and the poverty rate is over 25 percent in some communities, new economy solutions have the potential to transcend political differences by creating and fixing infrastructure, generating jobs, increasing food security, and reducing energy costs.

We cannot coast on a “small is beautiful” community garden project or worker-owned café—not while federal policies push down wages.

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