Social Diversity and the Sustainability of Community Economies
Patricia E.Perkins, April 1998
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Bioregional and « ecological economics » theory describes the growth of local economic linkages as vital to move post-industrial economies in the direction of sustainability. This involves expanding local stewardship over environmental and economic resources, so that progressively more production for local needs can be done within the community. Far from existing solely in the realm of theory, this is a pattern which is becoming more and more familiar in many parts of North America and Europe.
The blossoming initiatives to create local, community economies can be understood in light of the long history of environmental challenges faced by people living in the industrialized North, and the double economic blows of recession and trade liberalization/globalization exemplified by the passage of GATT and NAFTA. Many communities in North America and Europe have been organizing around environmental concerns for decades. Recession or trade-related layoffs in the early 1990s have given many people both time and incentives to exercise long-dormant skills for generating incomes and exchanging goods and services. Environmental awareness, community organizing, and « alternative » employment creation (e.g. in environmental remediation and energy conservation activities) form a natural and dynamic synergy