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Freeing Ourselves From the Corporate-Ruled Global Economy

As we restructure our physical and economic relationships for true economic efficiency and reduce the human burden on the biosphere, we will see our interdependence more clearly.

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The living economies movement seeks to displace this failed economic system with a planetary system of resilient, self-reliant local economies comprised of human-scale, locally-owned enterprises that use local resources to meet local needs in cooperative alignment with the structure and dynamics of local ecosystems.

Up to this point in time, the living economies movement has focused on the enterprise as the primary unit of production. The living buildings movement brings in a focus on restoring the household as a unit of food, energy, and water production. Each is an essential contributor to household and community livelihoods in a living future, and each creates opportunities for the other.

Implementing the Living Building Challenge creates many opportunities for local businesses to supply and install locally sourced building materials and technologies for the construction of new buildings and for retrofitting existing ones.

While home production will reduce demand for conventional food, water, and energy services, it will create new opportunities for local businesses to provide relevant expertise and inputs. There will be needs for local food processing and market facilities, as well as for businesses that specialize in creating and maintaining edible walls, roofs, and backyard gardens for households that lack the skills or inclination to do their own planting and maintenance.

Many of these activities require financing from community banks, mutual savings and loans, and credit unions that understand and support the unconventional technologies and ownership arrangements involved. Rebuilding community financial institutions that support all elements of the local living economy is a top priority of the living economies movement.

A Natural Alliance

The leaders of the living economies movement are predominantly entrepreneurs who view the world through the lens of marketing, finance, supply chains, and business value propositions. They are natural doers and risk takers eager to test new ideas, disinclined to spend a lot of time on planning, and impatient with drawn-out conceptual conversations.

The leaders of the living building movement are predominantly architects, with a sprinkling of urban planners, developers, engineers, and contractors. The architects and urban planners view the world through the lens of design and structure, think in terms of systems, and are drawn to conceptual frameworks that deepen understanding of what is required to bring the human species into alignment with the structure and dynamics of Earth’s biosphere.

The living economies movement stands to benefit from the living building movement’s conceptual grounding in ecological systems thinking. The living buildings movement stands to benefit from the living economies movement’s skills in linking local businesses into mutually supportive networks of business relationships. The living building developers and contractors mix easily with the living economy entrepreneurs and are a natural bridge between the two movements. Both movements stand to reap significant benefit from this natural alliance.

The Connected Life

We humans, in a fit of adolescent hubris, have sought to liberate ourselves from the responsibilities of life in community. We are in denial of our fundamental nature as living beings -- forgetting that because of the way life manages energy, living beings exist only in active relationships to other living beings.

We have so confused individual autonomy with personal liberty that we have created economies that reduce caring human relationships to soulless financial exchange and structured our physical space around buildings and auto-dependent transportation systems that wall us off from one another and nature. In isolation from nature we have sought to dominate and control rather than work with nature’s natural generative processes. We have paid a terrible price.

As we restructure our physical and economic relationships to achieve true economic efficiency and reduce the human burden on the biosphere, we will see even more clearly our interdependence with one another and the place we live. We will know where our food, water, and energy come from. We will know where our wastes go. And most of all we will be constantly reminded of the extent to which our happiness and well-being depend on our active engagement with the generative living community of which we are a part.

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