Democracy Labs Are Brewing a New Economy

 Democracy Labs are brewing the New Economy in several states. For instance, experiments are taking place to use a new metric for economic success and performance that gives a broader picture of sustainability and growth.  Vermont became the first state to pass a law introducing Genuine Progress Indicators (GPI), which take into account the wellbeing of citizens, communities and the planet. There are 26 ways the GPI can go up in a state or a nation such as getting more energy from renewables; increased energy efficiency; reducing the income gap; volunteering more for your community; preserving wetlands, forests, and farmland; shorter commutes and transport routes. Vermont has a five-year economic development plan that ties the state’s economic future to successfully growing the GPI over the next five years. It laid out specific goals and measurable targets for achieving this mission.Maryland, Oregon, Washington State, Colorado, and Hawaii are following Vermont’s example.

In a video interview, Alperovitz gives an overview of additional democracy labs experimenting with the New Economy that are currently taking place at the grassroots level and have the potential for change similar to that of the New Deal programs. He mentions worker owned cooperatives that capture the purchasing power of anchor institutions, the public banking movement, large scale community land trusts making a critical difference in the availability of affordable housing and the prevention of the displacement of low income families during neighborhood gentrification and the expansion of Community Development Financial Institutions.

A shift is also occurring towards more state and city political empowerment.  California has passed laws that are leading experiments in addressing climate change. They involve increasing renewable energy use, putting more electric cars on the road, improving energy efficiency, and curbing emissions from key industries; and providing aid to low-income or minority communities located near polluting facilities such as oil refineries and factories. Cities for Action is a coalition of over 100 mayors and municipal leaders fighting for immigration reform and galvanizing the movement by launching inclusive policies and programs at the local level.

President Obama in his Farewell Address said: “I’m asking you to believe. Not in my ability to bring about change — but in yours.” He urged citizens to show up; dive it: and stay at it. So, dust off your lab coat and join fellow change-makers in the democracy laboratories in your neighborhood, city and state.



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