It’s finally happening, have you heard the whispers? We are seeing the glimmers of the remaking of the way we do business, a way that just might ensure a just and livable future. Quietly, carefully and with great intention, people are exploring ways to build an economy based on love.
What does it mean, you may wonder, to build an economy based on love? First a reminder: the word economy has Greek roots, eco meaning “home” and nomy “to manage.” So we are talking about the management of our personal home, and the Earth, our home planet. The question at hand is how does this management happen while rooted in compassion, love, respect and justice? The concept of the Triple Bottom Line (People/Planet/Profit) is a good start, but digging deeper still, what does the next economy look like? Consider these glimpses from the leading (and loving) edges of culture.
- Witness the increasing presence of conversations in the business sector like ‘Building an Economy Based on Love’ at the upcoming Social Enterprise Alliance Summit, or the ‘Soul of the Next Economy Initiative’ at the Sustainable Brands SB’14 Conference. In 2012, South African Joseph Edozien wrote a piece called ‘Toward a Love-Based Economy’ that elevated the conversation, as has Louis Bohtlingk’s book Dare to Care: A Love-Based Foundation for Money and Finance.
- Check out the rapid growth of the collaborative or shared economy in recent years. Monetized sharing of everything from homes (AirBnB) to cars (ZipCar) has created a number of for-profit companies based on sharing, with new innovations likely to follow. Local tool lending libraries, community gardens, ridesharing apps, barter networks, toy and clothing swaps are intriguing examples of collaborative economy where no money changes hands. Speaking of money, local currencies are also on the rise, allowing folks to go beyond one-to-one bartering with an alternative form of currency that can be used in their local neighborhood to procure goods and services.
- Chokwe Lumumba, the mayor of Jackson City, Mississippi was in the early stages of transitioning his community to what he spoke of as a ‘solidarity economy’ when he died in late February. His plans were for a remaking of the economy through a community-based approach to redevelopment where worker owned cooperatives, community gardens and other initiatives cultivate local wealth and assets along with local goods and food. Jackson City’s early plans are inspiring models for all our towns and cities.
- And there are many examples of companies whose products fuel not-so-random acts of love and kindness. Thistle Farms is a social enterprise of women who have survived lives of prostitution, trafficking, addiction, and life on the streets. The women themselves create and sell hand made natural body care products, while living and healing together in a residential community. Homeboy Industries and Homegirl Café & Catering have been working with formerly gang involved and formerly incarcerated youth for more than 25 years, and their products provide both revenue and a professional outlet for the youth they serve. And Peacekeeper Cause-Metics sells beauty products, giving 100% of post-tax profits to address women’s health advocacy and human rights issues. Particular colors of their nail and lip product lines are dedicated to supporting organizations working on various causes, such as ending human trafficking and war.
Right now these may seem more like the exception than the rule, but that is where you come in, dear Spiritual Activists! Look around in your community and support (or start) a venture, large or small, to bring compassion and love into the way you manage your home. Got some ideas? Please do share them in the comments below. And good luck!