As a documentary filmmaker, my passion is to explore questions about how culture can be a catalyst for social change. Our economic systems are an obvious axis of power, but it’s easy to forget that these systems are fundamentally dependent upon cultural agreements and assumptions about what we value.
Over the years, I’ve developed a deep curiosity and respect for people making efforts to prioritize equity and caring in their communities by actively challenging and/or reinventing our cultural agreements related to money, property, ownership, labor, economic growth, generosity, reciprocity, etc. This work is complex, yet vital. As we deepen our conversations about these topics in our own community, I wanted to share a few resources that have helped me expand my understanding of this layered landscape of possibility.
- Common Future is a national organization focusing on new visions of sustainable, equitable economies, including initiatives related to addressing the race and wealth gap, self-determination in local communities, transforming the extractive economy and more. An extensive collection of articles on their website digs into these topics.
- Schumacher Center for Local Economics (based in Great Barrington, MA) has a lot of great informational resources about regenerative economies, including spotlights on local currencies and community land trusts.
- Homestead Community Land Trust (based in Seattle, WA) is a 25 year old organization successfully using the land trust model to create affordable housing for low and moderate income residents.
- “Beyond Greed and Scarcity” is a provocative back and forth conversation between economist Bernard Lietaer and YES! Magazine co-founder Sarah van Gelder, exploring some of the ideas underpinning community currencies.
- Bernard Lietaer has also written a book titled “Beyond Greed & Scarcity” and an online primer about community currencies.
- Over the past 35 years, Thomas Greco has written extensively about local currencies and moneyless exchange systems.
- Local Exchange Trading Systems (LETS) is a decentralized mutual credit system conceptualized by Michael Linton (based in British Columbia, Canada).
- “Community Currencies at a Crossroads New Ways Forward” by Tim Cohen-Mitchell is short article that provides a bit of historical context for understanding community currencies and time banking projects.
- The Center for Economic Democracy (based in Boston, MA), is spearheading a variety of projects, including time-banking by and for Boston’s working class BIPOC communities and a podcast called Economics for Emancipation.
- Vicki Robin is well known for her book Your Money or Your Life, first published in 1992, which offers a framework for transforming our relationship with money in order to prioritize living more in alignment with our values. In partnership with the Post Carbon Institute, she now has a podcast What Could Possibly Go Right in which she interviews cultural luminaries on topics such as mutual aid, reparations, sustainable development, regenerative practices, simple living, and much more.
- Cecile Andrews has organized “simplicity circles” and “sharing economy” community groups in the Pacific Northwest, as well as written books and articles about voluntary simplicity and the sharing economy.
- Simplicity Collective is a blog with a wealth of information about voluntary simplicity.
- GIFT, a documentary by Robin McKenna, is an intimate exploration of real-life gift economies and a reflection on the creative process.
- GRAB, a documentary by Billy Luther about “Grab Day”, which occurs in the villages of the Laguna Pueblo tribe. Water and food are tossed from rooftops to people standing below, in the tradition of gift economies.
- A STRICT LAW BIDS US DANCE (1975) is a rare documentary focusing on the history of the Coast Salish First Nations’ tradition of potlatch. The film itself is difficult to track down, but potlatch is a powerful example of a gift economy and worth learning about.
Fiona Otway is a documentary filmmaker based in the Hudson Valley.