My Vision of the World Economy:
Dreamtime of the Transitional
by Beth Raps
CooparcanaThis is the beginning of an occasional column for which Ive been saving up articles for some time. Ive wanted to help us (re)gain a sense of our history and power as a movement. Ive also wanted to write about unusual co-op examples, and to probe and examine what moves us spiritually, energetically, and emotionally to work in the ways we do. Future columns will deal with all of these things.
An arcanum is a mystery or secret; arcana is simply the plural of these. I invite you to let me know about co-ops I should write about, or to write about them yourself for this column. I also invite you to write about the feeling or spiritual side of your work for a co-operative world.
What follows was a serious response to a lighthearted homework assignment my economics professor gave us in his graduate seminar on alternative economics: write our vision of the world economy in two pages or less. I thought he meant it, and I did so. This, then, is how I want to inaugurate the column, as well as continue the new-ish GEO tradition of having editors describe their visions.
....and here we bury our own dead. We birth at home, and school together.
The human body is the measure of our townsthey have emerged no bigger than what a healthy person can walk end to end in one hour.
It is hot where we live, so we rise early and stop working early. We live on what we grow on our commons, taking what the seasons bring. We dry and can and bury food from fertile seasons inside the earth for fallow times.
Because we take the human body as our measure, the nearest towns are an hour or two away on the back of a bike or a beast. On marketing day, the town central to our region hosts us all. We are known for sewing and our graphic designs and computer programming and we bring these things to sell. We also bring our diseased animals and bicycles in the town flatbed, but not our computers and sewing machines; we can repair those ourselves.
We have our place in the market but an important part of the regional hub towns income comes from all the meetings it hosts between suppliers and clients in the region. Often, alterations, emendations, and adjustments make market day extend to two. We need seldom travel as far as our clients or suppliers towns to satisfy.
Our children work beside us half-days at almost every task: graphic design, childcare, farming, sewing, programming, and making repairs. Through this, they learn the sciences, arts and mathematics; they also help to teach half-day school in governance, planning, analysis, and reading, the arts they cannot learn so easily through work. The children also help translate our share of mail which comes to us via the credit union, especially from our sister partners in Sarvodaya, Emilia Romagna and Mondragon.
Our regions credit union recently saw its tenth year. By regional agreement, including our own of course, what we trade so far away is highly tariffed on the basis of the extra labor and energy required, extra expenditures of natural capital. Tariff monies are deposited in the credit union and benefit the regions loan fund for new businesses. Many towns feel we are foolish to import when everything we need for survival is obtainable close by.
But we exchange more than our goods; members of more than one town have begun considering revising their by-laws on distant intercooperative exchange after joining us for meals and dances with our cooperating counterparts from Sri Lanka, Italy and Spain.
The children of these other towns have led the way. In their town hall meetings, they have done more than just observe the governance they learn in school; they are instrumental influencing by-laws because they have, along with our children, visited Emilia Romagnas schools. Recently, some children in our town have been tasked with designing, building and organizing a regional model school based upon that of the Italian cooperatives schools. They know, as we all do now, that merely transplanting the Romagnan species will fail. They have begun their work by leading our town in thinking about the culture we embody and enact: the distance we have come, the place we live, decisions in which our hand is forced by survival, choices we have.
As you might guess, we have a great deal of time on our hands now. It makes
some restless, and they use the time to make money. Though they are often
successful, we mostly find it odd anymore. Most of us tend to sit and Listen,
or work for the town or the region, or play. We work for the planet as well
during these times, cleansing air, water, and land, taking up old macadam
paths and poured concrete structures that
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