Weaving the Community Resilience and New Economy Movements in the US

Published on February 28, 2015 in Blog
Local Economy Quesiton
Transition US is delighted to be part of the second cohort of national Transition hubs (along with Brazil, Mexico, Germany, and Portugal) to be receiving mentoring and support from Transition Network to bring REconomy to our country. We believe REconomy provides an important complement to the diverse, innovative work to build just and regenerative economies that is already happening in communities across the US.

“A movement is emerging in many places, under many guises: New Economy (or Economies), Regenerative Economy, Solidarity Economy, Next Economy, Caring Economy, Sharing Economy, Thriving Resilience, Community Resilience, Community Economics, Oppositional Economy, High Road Economy, and other names. It’s a movement to replace the default economy of excess, control, and exploitation with a new economy based on respecting biophysical constraints, preferring decentralization, and supporting mutuality. This movement is a sign of the growing recognition that what often are seen as separate movements—environment, social justice, labor, democracy, indigenous rights—are all deeply interconnected, particularly in the way that the current economic system is a root cause of much that they seek to change.” Excerpt from the report “Weaving the Community Resilience and New Economy Movements”

From cooperative development and local investing to “anchor institutions” and dismantling the prison-industrial complex, the depth and breadth of “new economy” work happening in the US is truly inspiring.



One of the most exciting new economy efforts in the US is the New Economy Coalition (NEC), made up of more than one hundred organizations (including Transition US), each tackling different aspects of building an economy that is just and regenerative, from shifting how the discipline of economics is taught (away from growth and free trade at all costs toward equity and environmental responsibility) to ensuring the voices of youth leaders and people of color are at the forefront. Last June, NEC brought together more than 600 people for a conference in Boston called “CommonBound.”

Leading up to the conference, I had the opportunity to work with colleagues from Post Carbon Institute and Conversation Collaborative on a project to “weave” the community resilience and new economy movements in the US through a series of appreciative inquiry interviews and group conversations with dozens of leaders in the new economy movement, as well as through a participatory workshop at CommonBound.

Weaving the MovementBased on what we heard during this six-month process, we wrote a 20-page report “Weaving the Community Resilience and New Economy Movement: Voices and Reflections from the Field” which offers “a portrait of a rich and vibrant movement” (including areas of alignment and tension within the movement) as well a vision of what economic transformation could look like in five years.

If you’re interested in learning more about the state of the US new economy movement, or simply want to be inspired, give it a read!

You can also read transcripts of the 18 interviews we conducted, including one with Transition US Co-Director Carolyne Stayton and one with Chuck Collins of Jamaica Plain New Economy Transition, a Transition Initiative in Boston.



Here are a few of my favorite quotes from the interviews:


“[W]hat does it mean, practically, to have a resilient system that generates freedom instead of fear, and abundance instead of scarcity? …At the micro-level, the experience of my own life has revealed how fundamental, paradigmatic, and revolutionary the notions embedded in the idea of a just and sustainable economy are and consequently, how the transformations we’re calling for demand not only a shift of the material, but also a shift in consciousness.”

~Marcie Smith, Responsible Endowments Coalition


“Community is a cultural value, not a political value.”

~Sarah Baird, Center for a New American Dream


“We work at the intersection of justice and ecology. We often start any conversation by rooting ourselves in appreciation that ecology literally means “knowledge of home,” and part of our political task is to ground ourselves in a true understanding of home: the watersheds and foodsheds that exist around us and truly feed us, that we need to re-prioritize and re-connect to. In that context “Economy” is literally management of home. “Eco”comes from “oikos” which means home in Greek. So ecology is “logic of home/home knowledge” and economy is “management of home.”

~Mateo Nube, Movement Generation


“…[T]his movement, other than the people who are doing it and are just regular people, is being driven by philanthropy. In most cases, organized philanthropy—meaning foundations—is 5% grants and 95% invested in the status quo in terms of economic systems. So, one of the things I’m most interested in is how to deploy that 95% of my foundation’s assets in a way that is prudent and consistent with the mission and values of our family and will support the grant-making that we want to do…So we’ve divested from fossil fuel companies and are diligently working to invest in things that are on the solution side of the ledger.”

~Jon Scott, Singing Field Foundation & Clean Water Action


“In terms of the national discourse, we understand that there’s an issue of climate change and an issue of inequality…to address inequality sometimes it’s said that we just need to “grow the pie,” but that conflicts with the need for ecological sustainability… We need to raise the bottom to meet basic human needs, but also bring down the top (by restructuring the money system, worker ownership, and new forms of ownership).”

~Noel Ortega, Institute for Policy Studies


Visions of the Future

And for one of the interview questions, we asked people to imagine they were living five years into the future, and our movement had been wildly successful. We asked them to describe what the future looked like, and how we got there. Here’s what they said:


“There’s economic power at the local level and more cooperation than competition. It’s a mature ecosystem, symbiotic, and different organizations have their niches. In 2019 we see businesses are more locally owned. Most assets are held collectively since we’ve identified that that is the most advantageous way to live. There’s a lot more inter-connectedness and connectedness in our locales. Community wealth is measured not by GDP but in the health of relationships of mutual support and cooperation, on the well-being of community.”

~Carolyne Stayton, Transition US


“The community owns its own energy, owns common land together, has common telecommunications services. The commons has grown—it had been shrinking—and this network of [sharing] cities has really blossomed and is taking ownership of its own destiny. The models that are emerging are being spread through the network, virally and organically, replicating in a way that reflects each community’s culture and goals. And when I say sharing I mean anything from public banking and alternative currencies, housing and food cooperatives, Makerspaces and art collectives.”

~Mira Luna, Shareable


“Across place, these new forms of economy are rooted in diverse forms of leadership. For example, immigrant communities of the South of the US have literally been at the heel of the boot of the dominant economy, but are now located at the center of these new forms of democratic governance. There is a truly multi-racial expression, a cross-class expression of leadership and creation and vision and application being manifested everywhere that gives life to what deep democracy means from the workplace up to the statehouse.”

~Mateo Nube, Movement Generation


“The collapse of the old economic paradigm happened a lot faster than we thought it would, in part because the divestment movement on campuses across the country really accelerated, and universities were looking to move millions and millions of dollars into different kinds of investments, which helped catalyze the idea that there was a scalable future in some of these kinds of investments. Seeing this take off over the last five years, cities understanding this is a much better way of doing economic development than just handing money to corporations. Anyone looking at economic policy could have seen that the old approach—lobbing suitcases of money at big corporations and hoping they created a few jobs—was ridiculous and a massive race to the bottom.”

~John Duda, Democracy Collaborative


Blog Author: Marissa Mommaerts is Communications & Operations Manager at Transition USA and co-author of  “Weaving the Community Resilience and New Economy Movement: Voices and Reflections from the Field”



2 Reader Comments

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  1. Thank you, Marissa Mommaerts, for this report, the initiatives to reconnect and recommune 😉
    To me, a Dutch person, living in The Netherlands, it’s inspiring to learn more about the US lifestyle and those choosing to live in respect for freedom of lifestyle and in relationship with nature.

    Specially, in comparison with the attempts to implement the Agenda21. For this agenda uses the growing green global awareness as a means to veil the true purpose of it. To be more clear, in what I suggest here, go find the presentation by Rosa Koire on you tube, her explanation of Agenda21. I highly recommend that tubby!