Regional economies can be developed that protect and maintain ecological life support systems and build social capacity in our communities. A biocultural regional economy is delineated by and works to enhance ecological and cultural biocultural characteristics of a region. This paper lays out the conceptual basis for regional conservation economies and introduces the Northern Great Lakes Nation as a region in which to apply these concepts.
Existing and proposed efforts to develop the regional economy are shared. The paper concludes with research efforts needed and potential methodologies to develop the needed knowledge and frameworks to assess the assets for biocultural regional economies. These concepts for a regional economy are a synthesis of the foundation courses of this program. The concepts of a biocultural regional economy are applied to a Northern Great Lakes region. The paper identifies capacities to be developed and activities already taking place in the region contributing to a biocultural regional economy.
Ultimately, the discussion of these topics leads to the exploration of the role that a regional for-profit or non-profit organization would play in developing a biocultural regional economy. The potential activities of an organization are proposed and research to determine potential of such an organization and assess regional assets is suggested. A Biocultural Regional Economy The economy is the overriding concern for communities, politicians, and pundits. The global economy creates wealth in nations and corporations by extracting natural resources and diminishing social capital Jacobs, By many measures, we are in the midst of a worldwide ecological and social crisis and the economy is the means and ends to perpetrating this Speth, Education alone will not bring about a change in our economy.
We need to develop alternative economic approaches that can both exist within and ultimately transform the existing system. A biocultural regional economy is an approach to building relationships in order to share and manage wealth and resources that protects and enhances natural and social capital and builds resilience of a region.
In our current system, places and people are at the whim of major corporations and national governments deciding the most economically advantageous direction to proceed. Corporations move manufacturing operations seeking the lowest labor costs or reprieve from regulations Jacobs, There is little opportunity for the average or even highly motivated person to influence these decisions.
The global marketplace has left many areas behind, particularly rural communities Berry, The development of biocultural regional economies provides the opportunity to counter the pervasive influence of the global economy. Biocultural regional economies are at a human- scale that people can engage with and influence. Because of broad social and ecological similarities within biocultural regions, local knowledge can be developed and applied in developing diverse, place-specific economic activities.
Regional economies also provide the opportunity to more directly connect urban and rural areas to the benefit of both. However, when urban and rural areas are connected within a region, there is great potential to benefit both. The connection between urban regional cities and rural productive lands provides the basis for the delineation of a region.
Developing an economic system that includes full-cost accounting and valuation of ecosystem services and ecological and human capital is an essential aspect of a biocultural regional economy. This paper will refer to the economic system that addresses these goals as a conservation economy. Hawken, Lovins, and Lovins lay out four principles for such an economy that they call Natural Capitalism: radical resource productivity, Biomimicry, service economy, and investment in natural capital. Radical resource productivity calls for dramatic increases in the efficiency in the use of raw materials e.
Proponents of resource productivity strive for factor four and factor ten increases in resource efficiency 75 percent and 90 percent reduction, respectively, in resource use per unit of production. Biomimicry is meant to reduce the waste of resources by redesigning industrial systems to mimic natural systems. In natural systems, waste of one organism or system is food for another. Cradle-to-cradle design is the application of Biomimicry in which materials are continuously reused in either a biological e.
The development of a service economy is based on a shift in the relationship between production and consumption. A service economy focuses on the service that a product provides, not on the acquisition of products. Through a service economy, businesses provide services, but maintain ownership of the products. Therefore, there is incentive for the businesses to increase the quality, durability, and re-usability of the products to decrease their costs. The focus of the economy becomes quality over quantity. Finally, investment to maintain, restore and increase natural capital increases the availability of ecosystem services and natural resources.
In addition to these four essential principles, a conservation economy needs to invest in and develop social capital such as cultural diversity, knowledge, equity, and civic engagement. Another important aspect of developing a conservation economy is the transformation of investments from an expectation of short-term high returns that are inherently unsustainable to strategies that provide long-term ecological and social benefits with lower, or slower, financial returns. Many working in this emerging field of impact investing, slow money, and natural model of development all related terms and approaches suggest a more modest rate of return in the range of one — three percent per year considering timescales of decades to centuries Tasch, ; S.
Cowan, personal communication, April 25, ; Schor, These investments make sense if accounting can be done to include longer time frames with low discounting assuming things will be of less value in the future , ecological and social costs, valuation of ecosystem services, and a commitment to developing a culture of place. It is at the regional level that we can work to enhance resilience.
A biocultural regional economy is based on the principles of a conservation economy and builds symbiotic relationships between urban and rural areas to enhance regional resilience and vitality. Overview of Northern Great Lakes Nation The concept of Northern Great Lakes Nation is based on the food traditions regions developed by Nabhan see Figure 1 , but is delineated more on predominant natural vegetation and cultural settlement. Bioregional Discovery Tool see figure 2. The tool allows customized region development based on ecological and cultural factors Ecotrust, It should be noted, however, that the boundaries are arbitrary and difficult to specifically delineate.
Utilizing the Bioregional Discovery Tool Ecotrust, n. This is a diverse biocultural region. The region has at least 11, years of human habitation and several Native American tribes have reservations in this region. At least eleven different tribal languages are spoken in this area. Figure 3 shows the Native American language families of the region as a generalized reference point. The region contains abundant rural working landscapes that are producing forest products, food, and energy. Approximately thirty-three percent of the area is suitable for field agricultural.
The Economy of Regions (Annual E. F. Schumacher Lectures Book 3) - Kindle edition by Jane Jacobs, Hildegarde Hannum. Download it once and read it on. The collection of lectures and publications from the Schumacher Cen Read saving The Economy of Regions (Annual E. F. Schumacher Lectures Book 3).
Approximately sixty-eight percent is forest land consisting of at least five different forest types. Renewable energy production in the region includes wind energy, biomass primarily wood for heat, although some electrical production , and solar primarily home scale. One of the greatest issues facing the working landscape of this region is emigration called Rural Brain Drain. The vast majority of the people leaving rural areas are twenty to twenty-nine years olds with college degrees Johnson, Many of the consequences are obvious, while some are more indirect and hidden.
The school systems are the best examples of this. In addition, municipalities find it difficult to repair roads, support social services, and maintain recreational facilities. Production potential decreases with loss of population.
In addition, many of the farm and forest lands are owned by absentee landowners who live in urban areas and only utilize the lands for recreational purposes. As a result, as these communities age, they tend to become more conservative in their fiscal and social approaches, creating a spiral of perspective that is averse to new, creative ideas and diversity. The economic reasons that rural communities are facing depopulation are many. The rise of agribusiness has led to the decline of family farms.
In addition, federal government spending is two to five times higher per capita on urban than rural development Johnson, These are typical economic trends when rural areas are disconnected from regional cities and are supplying commodities into distant markets Jacobs, Some have suggested that the decline in rural communities is inevitable and investment should not be made to try to maintain or restore these communities Gillham, However, there are a lot of reasons to care about rural communities.
America faces many social problems that are awaiting new, innovative solutions. In summary, this is an ecologically and culturally abundant and diverse region. Like many other regions, rural areas are suffering in spite of abundant resources. There is great potential in developing an economy that protects and utilizes the ecological and cultural capacity of the region. This section explores some of the social and ecological capacities necessary to develop a resilient regional economy.
Existing efforts contributing to capacity development are shared. In addition to these existing efforts, a more comprehensive, regionally-scaled approach is proposed. The intent is to provide some examples of the types of efforts that would be including in building a bioregion economy. As such, the examples are not intended to be comprehensive. Areas of Capacity Development The goal of a biocultural regional economy is to develop an economy that functions on principles of a conservation economy and builds community resilience.
Therefore, capacities to be developed within the Northern Great Lakes region include: Renewable Energy. The region needs to develop its renewable energy potential. Within the region there are extensive opportunities for forest and agricultural-based biomass energy at the home, community and regional scale. There is also untapped potential for wind and solar energy particularly solar water heating. This is a food producing region. Unfortunately, in major portions of the region commodity crops are the primary agricultural focus. There is considerable opportunity to develop a more locally and regionally focused agriculture through developments in ecoagriculture, permaculture, forest farming and foraging.
This region is best defined by its forests. There is extensive productive forest lands, which can be sustainably managed to produce forest products while maintain ecosystem services and biodiversity. Like with the food systems in this region, the primary markets are commodities — especially hardwood lumber and paper products. There is also opportunity to more fully develop non-timber forest products such as edible, medicinal and fiber producing species, ornamental plants, and Community: Creating a sense of place.
The regional economy will also benefit from and help to build greater community and connection to place. Efforts to capture, develop, and share the stories of the region need to occur. Economic efforts need to build relationships between producers and consumers of services and products and value self-provisioning. The shared commons of the region need to be assessed and shared to develop an understanding of the importance of and reliance upon these assets. Biocultural diversity protection and building. Efforts need to be made to protect and re-develop the biocultural diversity of the region.
The region has a long history of human co- evolution with the rest of nature.
In addition, new place-based knowledge and practices need to be developed throughout the region that protect biological diversity and ecosystem services while developing a place- based economy. Ecosystem services. The regional economy needs to value and support the maintenance of diverse ecosystem services including carbon sequestration, biocultural diversity, nutrient assimilation, water quality, and air quality. Innovative strategies to protect these services on public and private lands that provide benefits to landowners, nature and the public need to be developed.
Community Investment. Strategies to localize and lengthen the timeframe of investments need to be developed. Community investment will help develop and value place-based practices and culture.
Existing Efforts There are many local efforts that help contribute to and point the way for a biocultural regional economy. These efforts help to build cultural and ecological capacity and resilience in communities. The following are a few example activities that are already taking place in the region that provide promising examples to be included in a more networked, comprehensive approach.
The Eco-Municipality process engages diverse interests within a community to envision and develop a sustainable community. In addition, Eco-Municipalities become part of a network of other organizations and municipalities to learn from and assist each other in their development of community sustainability McKinnon, The MREA n. The organization began by offering an energy fair as a community education event.
The Energy and Sustainable Living Fair hosted annually by the MREA is now the largest education event of its kind attracting nearly 20, people during its three-day program in June. In addition to public education, the MREA has developed the capacity of the renewable energy field by providing professional development and certification for renewable energy installers. It currently coordinates a regional network of technical colleges developing curriculum in renewable energy and energy efficiency programs.
The MREA contributes to a regional biocultural economy through developing capacity for leadership and entrepreneurship, building social capital through, and developing renewable energy potential. Central Rivers Farmshed Farmshed. Farmshed is a small, non-profit, local foods- focused organization that began about five years ago. Farmshed defines local food as food that builds relationships between growers, preparers, and eaters.
That is, local is not defined by geography, but by relationships. Therefore, supporting a local food economy is about building the myriad relationships that exist between the land, farmers, restaurants, sellers, eaters, et al. In alignment with the principle of a service economy, Farmshed is focused more on relationships and services than on the product food.
Activities of Farmshed focus on building these relationships through a variety of events and projects. The greenhouse will serve as the location for year-round agriculture and aquaculture, vermicomposting, value-added product development in community kitchen space, business incubator, and community learning site. Farmshed and the development of a local food system is helping to develop the relationships necessary to build social capital and self-reliance, facilitating community learning, and developing a local, food-based conservation economy.
At the Land Institute in Salina, Kansas, Jackson and others are working toward a sustainable system of agriculture based on patches rather than fields of perennials rather than annuals , a system "that is at once self-renewing like the prairie or forest and yet capable of supporting the current human population. Post-modern thinking, according to Schumacher, would conceive the negative theory of transport, looking upon the need for goods transport primarily as an indicator of failure, proving that goods were being produced in the wrong places. In addition, she argues that large-scale food production and pasteurization must be abandoned in favor of small-scale, local farming. The network of nongovernmental organizations which make up planetary systems and whose members are small-scale household units have roots in and serve actual places. Or, if you prefer to read online, all lectures are available free of cost.
HSWC is a timber management, processing, and marketing cooperative of local forest owners. The cooperative formed after a windstorm blew down extensive areas of forest, flooding loggers and the market with timber. The cooperative works to maximize the long-term value of timber resources. HSWC achieves this through environmentally responsible forestry through a team approach of ecologists, foresters, professional loggers, and landowners; locally-based, value-added manufacturing of wood products; third-party certification of sustainable forestry practices by the Forest Stewardship Council; and relationship-building and community building through new jobs and providing finished products locally Renewing the Countryside, HSWC builds community resilience by developing capacities for flexibility, developing leadership and entrepreneurship, and building social capital and local self-reliance and feedback through relationships.
Utilizing abundant, renewable natural resources such as trees and locally adding value contributes to a conservation economy. What does an investment portfolio that centers on wealth redistribution actually look like? I saw how the structure of the loan shaped the financial reality of the borrower, and had the power to shift the economic reality of marginalized communities and entrepreneurs.
I began to understand that my decisions about how to move the money I inherited could be a part of a broader movement, a movement that could build power for marginalized communities, fund grassroots organizing, and resource the emerging solidarity economy. The inspiration was actually right outside the doorstep of the Schumacher Center in the form of an year-old apple orchard.
I thought that we should have an economy that is rooted in place— that takes its shape from the soil of that place and, because it is rooted, cannot just pick up and move on and must instead be accountable for the consequences of its actions in that place. Communities all across the country are trying to create policies that do more with less, balance individual benefits with community benefits, and make a dent in their local affordable housing needs.
If you're looking for thought-provoking reads in the New Year, look no further. From tackling economic injustice to environmental inequities, these books are filled with hope for a better future, one that's based on shared, community-based solutions. Below are Shareable 's recommended social change books to read in — including summaries, excerpted from each book's website, that give a taste of what's inside.
The Wendell Berry Farming Program of Sterling College is founded on the principle that the union of land, people, and community defines good work. To be accredited as part of the Sterling College Sustainable Agriculture degree program, the Wendell Berry Farming Program is providing future farmers with education that combines the arts and sciences with community-based, co-operative economics and training. Since the Schumacher Center has envisioned, organized, and conducted its Annual E. Schumacher Lectures program, inviting speakers from around the globe to share their stories and their view of the world as it could and should be.
Lectures are edited, published, curated, and distributed in multiple formats— each year adding new voices, enhancing the dialogue, and challenging entrenched attitudes. The Schumacher Center lecture pamphlets are wonderful gifts for thoughtful persons. Two gift sets are also available.
Leah Penniman and her staff at Soul Fire Farm train black and Latinx farmers in growing techniques and management practices from the African diaspora, so they can play a part in addressing food access, health disparities, and other social issues. Penniman's new book, Farming While Black: Soul Fire Farm's Practical Guide to Liberation on the Land, details her experiences as a farmer and activist, how she found "real power and dignity" through food, and how people with zero experience in gardening and farming can do the same.
Thank you to everyone who attended the 38th Annual E. Schumacher Lectures this past weekend. For those who missed the event, the videos of Leah Penniman and Ed Whitfield's talks will be up on our Youtube account in the coming weeks. Stay tuned! Jump to. Sections of this page. Accessibility Help.
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