Sharing Nourishes Local Living Economies
It’s no fun to focus on bad news, so I won’t for more than just a second. One piece of news literally drove home for me the importance of building local economies. I used to live near and work in Wilmington, OH, where the shipping company DHL has recently proceeded with the layoff of over 7,000 employees. The town itself barely has 12,000 people, which makes the number 7,000 sound unfathomable. It’s scary that small towns all over the U.S. are so dependent on an economic system that’s way bigger than us, and that’s seemingly out of our control. We’ve all heard the encouragement to “buy local,” “eat local,” become “locavores,” and so on. But creating vital local economies is not just a nice-sounding idea, it’s crucial to preventing devastation of our communities, and current events are making action feel increasingly urgent.
But now for some positive thoughts — here are just a few of the ways that sharing can help strengthen our local economies:
- Carsharing and ridesharing encourage people to reduce driving and shop locally.
- Sharing facilitates a barter economy, especially when shared services and goods become a type of currency, exchangeable for other shared services and goods.
- Sharing ownership and purchase of goods reduces costs and makes it possible to purchase quality goods from local producers and artisans.
- Creation of consumer-owned or employee-owned businesses provides local economic opportunity.
- Sharing can help small business owners — allowing entrepreneurs to share office or retail space, equipment, trucks, and so on.
- Sharing the purchase of services makes it more affordable to hire house cleaners, gardeners, home care workers, child care workers, and so on, thereby providing work to people locally.
- Community-supported agriculture (CSA) programs create a direct link between consumers and local farmers, and provide security for the farms that grow our food.
For more resources and information about creating sustainable local economies, visit the website for BALLE — the Business Alliance for Local Living Economies. Their vision is to create “living economies” which “ensure that economic power resides locally to the greatest extent possible, sustaining vibrant, livable communities and healthy ecosystems in the process.” There, I’m ending on a positive note.