I am currently preparing a revision to my first book, The Local Economy Revolution: What’s Changed and How You Can Help. I decided to update it to capture some of the things I’ve learned since it was first published in 2013. Look for the new and improved version later this year.
The centerpiece of that book is a series of statements called The Wise Economy Manifesto, which I first published in 2011. So I’d better start there.
Human communities are human ecosystems. Everything we do, whether a business or a land use plan or a nonprofit program or an economic development incentive, isn’t going to stay in the silo where we put it. We want to picture the world around us as working like machines, input -> predictable output, because that gives us some sense of optimism that we can predict what our work will cause. But that doesn’t happen.
Instead, human communities are just like forests and oceans and prairies. They are systems of interconnected systems (growth and decomposition, weather and weathering, hunter and prey), and what happens to one impacts the other. And when we mess up one of them, it has an impact on everything else. That impact is often an unintended consequence of what we did.
We know that. We have decades of science on this.
But because we don’t do a good job of transferring those learnings to human ecosystems, we make new unintended consequences all the time. And we don’t just fail to anticipate the unintended consequences of our work, we purposely don’t go looking for them. We could see them if we looked for them, because we have lots and lots of examples to learn from. But we don’t. But in not critically examining how the systems impact each other, we permit wide and deep, and often unintended, repercussions, repercussions on real people.
Who, again, are supposed to be the ones we’re doing this for.
**From the upcoming book, The Local Economy Revolution Redux: What’s Changed and How You Can Help. Coming Spring 2020 from Wise Fool Press.