Eco-nomic Innovations: Building a Sustainable Economy

Recent employment numbers in the U.S. have economists puzzled. Job vacancy numbers are sky high right alongside a high unemployment rate. Businesses want to hire, but the labor market seems to be sitting on the sidelines. The pandemic disrupted many parts of our lives, and while some things are (hopefully) returning to normal, others could stand to shift entirely. Leaving aside all the political football about unemployment benefits, one basic fact is that inequality has never been higher in this country – and while Bezos is taking his rocket ship to space and thanking consumers, working class wages haven’t come close to keeping pace with inflation for many years. Could it be that folks aren’t going back to work because the jobs and work on offer aren’t worth doing?

As the page turns on summer towards Labor Day, we’re diving into just a few of the radical shifts in jobs and the economy that are coming our way. From humane workplaces that build community to the movement for Solidarity Economics to the necessary Just Transition underway as we move to a clean energy economy, what we do for work and how we go about doing it has never been more important. 

Creating Intentional Communities in our Workplaces

In an ideal work environment, people are treated as valued equals, working in safe and emotionally well-regulated workplaces. This pandemic has daylighted the ruthlessness that we have come to accept as part of work culture. Through the lens of the emotionally well-regulated social structure, we can plot a course to a healthy social and emotional ecosystem where people and projects can finally thrive.

Karla McLaren, M.Ed. is an award-winning author, social science researcher, workplace consultant whose trailblazing work on empathy is transforming workplaces. In this article, Karla highlights the problems inherent in todays’ work culture and uses transformative conceptions of emotions to introduce new understandings of the workplace.

Read more here.

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Solidarity Economics: Why Mutuality and Movements Matter

Economists often defend our current economic model and it’s disastrous effects on our planet and marginalized communities by appealing to a normative concept of “humanity”. It is assumed that exploitative and narrow class interests that arise at the expense of the earth and community is human nature. However, as the world fell into isolation and uncertainty brought on by a global pandemic, humanity showed itself capable of uniting and showing compassion for others. With the pandemic came a moment of pause – a space in which we glimpsed the possibilities of what the future can hold. 

In his latest book co-authored with Chris Benner, Solidarity Economics: Why Mutuality and Movements Matter, Manuel Pastor offers a powerful blueprint for an equitable future. In this excerpt, Manual defines the possibility and urgency of solidarity economics guided by principles of mutuality and solidarity.

Read more here.

Just Transition: A Workforce Development and Jobs for a New Clean Economy

With the given climate, the task most imperative to regaining the possibility of a liveable future is to transition from a fossil fuel based economy to a global economic system that runs on clean energy. However, this transition doesn’t come without risk when considering the numerous working-class families and communities whose livelihoods have grown to depend on jobs provided by the fossil fuel industry. Without a plan for an equitable transition that centers working class and marginalized communities, we risk replicating the unjust structures that we are trying to dismantle. 

In this panel from Bioneers 2019, four leaders answer the question, “What does a Just Transition Mean?” They outline the need for and progress towards proactive labor policies to ensure an equitable future for families and communities.

Read more here.

A Caring, Sustainable Economy for the 21st Century

​​Ai-jen Poo, one of the nation’s most effective and dynamic young labor leaders, presents the vision of Caring Across Generations, a new national coalition of 200 advocacy organizations working together for a dignified quality of life for all Americans. Its purpose is to transform some of our most fundamental social and economic challenges – jobs, long-term care and immigration – into opportunities for innovation and solutions that benefit everyone. ​​Ai-jen Poo is also the co-founder and Executive Director of the National Domestic Workers Alliance, a non-profit organization working to bring quality work, dignity and fairness to the growing numbers of workers who care and clean in our homes, the majority of whom are immigrants and women of color.

Read more here.

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