Eco Nomics is the name of a new column I’m writing for Natural Life Magazine, beginning with the current March/April issue. In a nutshell, it’s about nurturing your life and the planet, while making a living. The title comes from an understanding that the Greek word for home – oikos – is also the root word of both ecology and economy. It leads us to strategies for taking care of our home (and, by extension ourselves and our families) and the Earth, using new ways of thinking about economics and ecology. Or, as economist, author, and critic of corporate globalization David Korten puts it: “Imagine an economy in which life is valued more than money and power resides with ordinary people who care about one another, their community, and their natural environment. It is possible.”
In my exploration of this new economy, I’ll be looking at both self-reliant and community-based solutions for covering our families’ expenses. Some of the solutions will be new and innovative, others will recycle old, tried and true ways of thinking. They will encompass both self-reliance and conviviality. They will allow us to balance – no, to integrate – work and family, and to decompartmentalize our lives. They will involve both making money and reducing the need for it.
This is a topic I’ve been passionate about since the mid-1970s, when Rolf and I launched the home-based social enterprise that still publishes this magazine. I explored it a decade later when I became an advocate for telecommuting and home-based business, and then in the ’90s when I trained low-income women in self-employment and wrote a book called Bringing it Home: A Home Business Start-Up Guide for You and Your Family. In the past few years, I have written extensively about how new strategies of education, such as unschooling/life learning, are helping young people prepare to flourish in a new, decentralized, sustainable economy. Along the way, I’ve also been involved in a number of non-hierarchal, community-based alternatives in an attempt to change the page on the way we look at sustaining ourselves and the Earth.
I have learned many things from these experiences, including that when we make the shift to understanding money as a tool that can be used however we want – for good or evil – we begin to see the almost unlimited possibilities for using it to create change in our own lives and in the world. In other words, Eco Nomics is about addressing our own material needs (and a few well-considered wants as well) while keeping our local Main Street economies green and healthy too….and enjoying ourselves in the process.
I have also learned that there are myriad ways in which we can reduce the need for money in our lives – ways that can increase our connection to each other and the Earth, ways that eliminate greed and maximize the amount of time that can be spent living our lives.
So among the topics I’ll be writing about are the concept of right livelihood, Unjobbing and dejobbing, stretching our spending power and downsizing our expenses, home business and telecommuting, co-ops, food clubs and community kitchens, ethical investing, locavore economics, lending circles and micro-loans, green business, social enterprise, community ownership, alternative economic indicators, barter, local currencies, crowd- funding, redefining our relationship with money, and much more.
I’ll not only be discussing the principles behind these ideas and initiatives, but also providing examples of people who are making them work in their own lives and communities.
Coincidental to the start of this column, I recently read about the regressive new policy at Yahoo! where CEO Marissa Mayer has ordered that all employees who work at home relocate to company facilities. “Speed and quality are often sacrificed when we work from home,” read the memo to employees from HR head Jackie Reses. Um, no. Aside from how that’s pretty weird coming from a technology company, and the fact that there are many studies indicating that quality and productivity increase when people work at home (meaning it makes good economic sense), working from home is good environmental practice and is used a lot by working parents. That is just one topic that I’ll be covering in the magazine column! Hope you’ll join me.