Return to Village Living; Why Small Communities are the Survival Strategy of the Future

It is becoming evident to most people that the current economic climate is one of serious decline. If you ask the average citizen, of nearly any country in the world at the moment, about their financial health, they would likely agree that their current economic situation is much worse than it was a few years ago. This trend towards economic decline is rapidly increasing to the point that most people won’t be able to sustain the standard of living that they and their parents have enjoyed up to this point. The questions that we need to be asking and that need to be answered are; why is this happening and what can we do about it.

Let’s look at these very questions by examining the causes and possible solutions.

The Past Push for Globalization

Globalization, a multifaceted phenomenon, has emerged through a series of historical, economic, technological, and political factors. Historically, globalization has roots in the ancient Silk Road, where trade routes made the exchange of goods, ideas, and cultures across vast distances possible. However, it gained momentum during the Industrial Revolution when advancements in transportation, such as steamships and railways, enabled faster movement of goods and people across borders. The 20th century saw further globalization with the establishment of international organizations like the United Nations and the World Trade Organization, aimed at fostering cooperation and facilitating trade among nations.

Economically, globalization has been driven by the pursuit of efficiency and growth. Businesses look to tap into larger markets, access cheaper labor, and benefit from comparative advantages through cross border trade. Technological advancements, particularly in telecommunications and the internet, have revolutionized communication and reduced barriers to trade and investment. Furthering its rise, political shifts such as the end of the Cold War and the liberalization of economies in the 1980s and 1990s have also contributed to the acceleration of globalization.

However, globalization, while fostering interconnectedness and economic growth, has also caused significant harm to the environment, cultures, and societies worldwide.

Economically driven expansion has led to unbridled resource extraction and industrialization, resulting in environmental degradation, pollution, and loss of biodiversity. Culturally, globalization has promoted the spread of homogenized consumerist values, eroding indigenous traditions, languages and ways of life. Societies and communities have undergone significant disruptions in traditional ways of doing business due to outsourcing and the resulting economic inequalities, leading to the death of towns and communities, both small and large, across the world.

Furthermore, the globalized economy often prioritizes profit over human welfare, leading to increased poverty and exploitation. Ultimately, the unchecked drive towards globalization has exacted a heavy toll on both the natural world and human societies, necessitating a serious reevaluation of priorities and practices to achieve a more sustainable and equitable future.

Why Globalization Can’t Work Long-Term

While globalization undoubtedly boasts a wide array of benefits, there are concerns about its sustainability and long-term viability. One of the primary criticisms of globalization is its tendency to exacerbate income inequality both within and between countries. As multinational corporations try to minimize costs, they often exploit cheap labor in developing countries, leading to stagnant wages and poor working conditions for workers.

Moreover, globalization can lead to the erosion of local cultures and traditions as Western norms and values dominate global markets, posing a threat to cultural diversity and identity.

Furthermore, globalization has undeniably caused serious environmental degradation and resource depletion. The relentless pursuit of economic growth and profit maximization has led to overexploitation of natural resources, pollution, and environmental degradation on a global scale. Increased transportation and production activities have contributed to carbon emissions and climate change, posing significant challenges for future generations.

In the long run, these environmental consequences could undermine the very economic prosperity that globalization aims to achieve. Thus, while globalization offers undeniable short-term benefits, its long-term sustainability seems clearly in question.

What is a Community Economy

A community economy refers to an economic system in which local resources, businesses, and social networks play a central role in meeting the needs and fostering the well-being of a particular community.

Unlike traditional economic models focused solely on profit maximization, a community economy prioritizes principles of sustainability, social equity, and local empowerment. It emphasizes the cultivation of strong interpersonal relationships, collaboration, and collective decision-making to address local challenges and opportunities.

Community economies often involve the localization of production and consumption, with an emphasis on supporting local businesses, artisans, and farmers. Additionally, community economies may incorporate alternative economic models such as cooperatives, time banks, and community currencies to facilitate an equitable exchange and distribution of goods and services.

Overall, a community economy aims to create a more resilient, inclusive, and interconnected community by harnessing the collective resources and strengths of its members.

Why Small Community Economies Can Work Long-Term

Small community economies offer a range of advantages that contribute to their resilience and sustainability. One significant benefit is the promotion of local entrepreneurship and job creation.

In small communities, local businesses are often deeply rooted in the community fabric, providing goods and services tailored to local needs and preferences. These businesses not only generate employment opportunities but also foster a sense of ownership and pride among community members.

Additionally, money spent within the community tends to circulate locally, creating a multiplier effect that stimulates economic growth and vitality. This localization of economic activity reduces dependence on external factors and enhances the community’s ability to weather economic downturns.

Moreover, small community economies prioritize social cohesion and cooperation, fostering strong interpersonal relationships and networks of mutual support. Local businesses often prioritize ethical and sustainable practices, considering the long-term well-being of both people and their local environment.

This emphasis on sustainability includes promoting sustainable production and consumption of goods, with an emphasis on local sourcing and reduced carbon footprint. Furthermore, small community economies encourage civic engagement and participation, as community members collaborate to address common challenges and pursue shared goals. By nurturing a sense of belonging and shared responsibility, small community economies contribute to the overall resilience and well-being of the community as a whole.

How to Get Started Building Your Community Economy

There are actually several really good models for building community economies. Let’s look at a few.

The first is Time Banking

Time banking is a community-based system of reciprocal exchange where individuals trade services and skills with one another using time as the measurement of contribution. In a time bank, every hour of work provided by a participant is considered equal and earns them one time credit, regardless of the nature of the service provided. Participants offer services based on their skills, interests, and availability, and they can exchange their earned time credits for services offered by other members within the network. Time banking emphasizes the idea that everyone’s time and skills are valuable, promoting a sense of equality and mutual support within the community.

Time banking operates on the principle of paying it forward, fostering relationships and social connections among participants. It encourages community members to engage in meaningful exchanges that go beyond monetary transactions, thereby building trust and social capital. Time banks often prioritize services that benefit the community, such as tutoring, caregiving, home repairs, or gardening.

By exchanging services within the time bank, participants can access a wide range of skills and resources without the need for traditional “money”. Time banking also promotes inclusivity and social cohesion by valuing everyone’s contributions equally, regardless of their economic status or professional background.

Overall, time banking offers a unique and empowering way for individuals to connect, collaborate, and support one another within their communities.

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The second is Local Exchange Trading Systems

Local Exchange Trading Systems (LETS) are locally organized, economic organizations that allow the exchange of goods and services among group members. The groups use a locally created units of value as currency which can be traded or bartered in exchange for goods or services. Members of LETS typically view the systems as organized and cooperative schemes that maximize purchasing power while benefiting members and the community.

The local exchange trading system traces its roots to 1983, when Michael Linton came up with the term. When Linton started the Comox Valley LETSystem in British Columbia, Canada, he designed it so members could manage their own currency system as an alternative to that of the federal government.

This organization between members would allow them to participate in the local economy even when they lacked traditional currency. Essentially, members would earn and spend credits by doing business with each other.……Investopedia

The third is Mutual Credit

Mutual credit is a system of exchange where participants within a community or network create and use their own “currency” to facilitate trade and transactions.

Unlike traditional currencies issued by governments or central banks, mutual credit “currencies” are typically created and managed by the participants themselves. In a mutual credit system, each participant starts with a zero balance and can spend up to a certain limit determined by the community’s rules and agreements. When a participant makes a purchase or receives a service, their account balance decreases, and the seller’s account balance increases by the same amount. This process allows for transactions to occur without the need for physical currency or external financial institutions.

One of the key principles of mutual credit systems is reciprocity, as participants are expected to both give and receive within the network. The system encourages economic cooperation, as participants trade goods and services based on their needs and abilities rather than the availability of conventional currency.

Mutual credit systems often prioritize local exchange and sustainability, fostering relationships and connections within the community. Additionally, mutual credit can be used to support businesses, freelancers, and individuals who may have difficulty accessing traditional credit or banking services.

By enabling participants to create their own means of exchange, mutual credit systems offer a decentralized and democratic alternative to traditional monetary systems, promoting economic resilience, empowerment, and community self-reliance.

KommunityKoin

At KommunityKoin we believe in paying it forward and we have designed a system for the development and management of community economies, like those discussed. How does it work?

KommunityKoin.com provides you with a convenient system for paying it forward – you spend an hour helping me, then I spend an hour helping someone else who spends an hours helping yet another person and eventually it gets back around and someone spends an hour helping you. Our (r)evolutionary web app, called KoinPurse, is the timekeeping ledger that easily tracks your paying it forward so that it is done in an equitable way such that no one is taking advantage or being taken advantage of. Simple really.

Whatever system you decide to employ for building your community economy, the reality of the situation is clear, it must be done and done soon.