31 Ways to Jump Start the Local Economy

How to make it with less, share more, and put people and the planet


Rent out a room in your home, or swap space for gardening, child
or elder care, or carpentry.

Buy less so you can buy higher quality. Buy from companies that
“internalize” costs by passing along to you the cost of living
wages, low carbon footprints, or organic production.

Take your money out of predator banks and put it into a credit
union, local bank, or an institution like Shorebank Pacific that
supports sustainable businesses.

Pay off debts. Try life without credit cards.

Downsize your home and shrink your mortgage.

Fix things. Mend clothing, repair the vacuum, fix the car—instead
of replacing them. Or give them away onFreecycle.org.

Invest with passion. Know where your money is and what it’s up
to. Go for a living return that builds your community. Or invest in
tangible things like a prepaid college fund or a piece of land.

Shorten the supply chain. Pick the wild greens and extra fruit growing
in your neighborhood. If you can’t do that, then buy direct from a
farmer. If you can’t do that, then look for local produce in season
at your locally owned grocers.

Support other people’s local economies by urging your
representatives in Congress to cancel debtsto poor countries
(see www.jubileeusa.org).

Find a place, put down roots, and stay put. Get to know people
from other generations. Turn off the TV and talk to friends and

Support local green businesses rather than distant energy
conglomerates by insulating your house, upgrading windows, and
installing solar.


Form a dinner club and hold a weekly potluck, or trade off cooking
and hosting.

Dip your toe in the barter economy. Check out Craigslist’s “barter”
category, and learn what WTT means (Willing To Trade). Even
better, ask the guy at work who makes microbrews to trade a
sixpack for a dozen of your chickens’ eggs.

Get together with coworkers and start a list of things you can do
at work. For example, buy fair trade coffee, change to energyefficient
lighting, or carpool.

Start a Common Security Club in your faith community or
neighborhood to help folks cope in the crisis and act together to
create the new economy (www.commonsecurityclub.org).

Exchange care of children and elders. Better yet, bring the
generations together and support each in offering love and care to
the others.

Pool funds with a group of friends for home repairs, greening
projects, or emergencies.

Do home work parties. Each month, go to a different household to
do major home greening, a garden upgrade, or some deferred

Keep more people from becoming homeless by challenging
evictions and occupying vacant homes.

Create a space at a farmers market to exchange or sell used
clothes, electronics, games, CDs, plants, seeds, compost, and
books. Encourage people to swap services, too, like haircuts,
photography, or prepared dinners.

Reach out to groups that are organizing people on the frontlines
of the crisis, like Jobs with Justice (www.jwj.org) and Right to the
City (www.righttothecity.org).


Link up people looking for job skills with people who can offer

Start a local currency or time dollar program to help link needs and
offerings, those with time and those starved for time.

Use publicly owned lands for community gardens, farmers
markets, business incubators, community land trusts (with
affordable housing), community-rooted grocery stores.

Hold on to the local businesses you already have. Help retiring
entrepreneurs sell to employees or other locals.

Create a car, kayak, and electric pick-up truck co-op to save
money and carbon, and provide access to a variety of vehicles.

Create or join a chapter of the Business Alliance for Local Living
Economies (BALLE) or similar groups. Work together to find
services or products you could substitute for imported ones, local
assets you can build on, and ongoing institutions that could be
serviced locally.

Start a community bank, loan fund, or credit union to invest in
local well-being, or encourage existing ones to rethink their lending.

Declare an end to corporate personhood in your
community. Barnstead, New Hampshire did, and, more recently, three
communities in Maine have done it. You can too.

Hold a weekly dinner for the hungry. Ask those who attend to help
serve food at subsequent dinners. (Having an opportunity to give
is important for everyone’s dignity).

Keep your energy dollars circulating locally. Launch a clean energy
cooperative to install wind turbines or solar roofs, and to weatherize
homes and businesses.

This article was originally published by Yes! Magazine; a non-profit media
organisation that fuses powerful ideas with practical actions. Sarah van
Gelder wrote this article as part of The New Economy, the Summer 2009
issue of YES! Magazine. Sarah is the Executive Editor of YES! Magazine.