Economic stagnation and the impending climate crisis have provoked a global flowering of interest and activity in developing innovative, community-driven ways to address income and wealth inequality, meet people’s needs, and build more stable, just communities. Communities are using a growing toolbox of strategies including cooperatives, community land trusts, non-extractive financing, and collaborative processes to create good, locally rooted jobs, democratize community wealth, and rebuild local commons. Cities and regions are supporting these efforts by creating support ecosystems, mobilizing anchor purchasing, and building grassroots incubators. Commonwealth Hudson Valley aims to bring inspiring projects to local attention, and to network and amplify the growing activity here in the region.
We also take a long view of the process of economic system change. In this time of multiple, intersecting crises, it can be easy to feel small, isolated and even overwhelmed in our efforts to create positive alternatives. We have been taught for so long that ours is the best system possible, whatever its flaws, perhaps even the only system possible, that it can be hard to imagine alternatives. This gridlock of imagination is beginning to change. In these pages, we explore fresh views of economic and social history and highlight the emergence of new systems and capabilities, so that we can begin to tell new stories about where we are, what is possible, and how we can get there.
We aim to add the dimension of participatory economic democracy to the region’s conversations about economic development, social justice, and sustainability. Please join the conversation by subscribing to our mailing list, following us on social media, sharing with your friends and colleagues, and letting us know in the comments what you are most interested in. And if you are working on a new economy project — a cooperative of any kind, a sharing project, a community land trust, or a values-based financing initiative — please contact us. We’d love to talk, help connect you with others, and possibly profile your work here.