What is the New Economy, and Why Do We Need It?
It’s broken, so we need to fix it. The years following the Great Recession have been an exercise in economic policy reformation, and in many ways a revisiting of the theories and philosophies that guide those policies, from Adam Smith to John Maynard Keynes. Yet, in this winding and never-ending partisan scuffle that seems to never reach any conclusions on how to guide the economy, a new wave of thinkers have added their thoughts to the debate: change the whole thing from the bottom up. Led by community leaders, activists, economists, and practitioners, forward thinkers are creating a policy movement. By offering alternatives to status quo neo-liberal economic mantras like austerity, trickle-down theory, and the like, these thought leaders have begun a new and meaningful debate as to how to shift the paradigm that guides our households, markets, and communities.
Local approaches to wealth building can be effective in creating jobs, promoting sustainable growth, and postively impacting metropolitan regions as a whole, yet more needs to be done to help community leaders implement change. The “new economy” means a new approach to policy and community development, and many organizations have started to develop new tools and programs for city leaders in order to drive this change in policies. Led by Democracy Collaborative, a “think and do tank” operating out of Washington, D.C., the Next System Approach project is one example of this. The project aims to shift emphases away from corporate profit maximization to one that secures “the wellbeing of people, place and planet,” for the next generation. The project is an ambitious multi-year initiative aimed at thinking boldly about what is required to deal with the systemic challenges that the United States faces now and in coming decades.
Thought leaders like Noam Chomsky of MIT and Jeffrey Sachs of Columbia have endorsed this approach, but buying into the mission is easy. The difficult task will be to actually figure out how to change the paradigm by giving leaders the tools they need to implement these changes at the local level. Through the past several years, GMF has explored the ways in which communities set priorities, affect change in their regions, and also deal with challenges in the implementation of their missions and goals.
In light of this, GMF will collaborate with Democracy Collaborative at this year’s Bilbao Urban Innovation and Leadership Dialogues (BUILD) to provide local leaders with the tools to achieve these objectives through a breakout session called “Rethinking Community and Economy." The session will be led and facilitated by GMF’s Urban and Regional Policy team and by Democracy Collaborative’ s Executive Director Ted Howard, who has been a leading voice in initiating local conversations about the “new economy” and community wealth building for the 21st century city. With Democracy Collaborative’ s cutting-edge expertise and research at the city level and GMF’s peer-to-peer learning style, the session will provide deeper context into the policy areas from a transatlantic perspective while offering comprehensive tool-building exercises to give participants the foundation of how to lead change in their cities.
The views expressed in GMF publications and commentary are the views of the author alone.