Ever since the SEED NM initial circle of organizers came together to talk about sustainability and equity in relation to economic development, we’ve encountered a particular challenge: the language. Terms like “sustainable,” “equitable,” etc., tend to be used pretty loosely these days. I spend a lot of time vexing on how we can find a common language and keep coming back to a framing question that helps bring things into focus for me:
What infrastructure is needed in order for businesses, communities and people to flourish?
This question helps me envision the following elements:
- access to capital, ideally with a public bank in place, to combat the unsustainable growth goals that private banks unfailingly pursue
- regulatory support and public resources for cooperative ownership models, to facilitate options for worker or community ownership
- resources and support for BIPOC and immigrant-owned businesses, to even out disparities created by systemic racism and xenophobia
- access to health care and coverage, ideally with single-payer insurance — otherwise the burdens fall on small business owners and workers
- access to child care so entrepreneurs and workers can do their work
- access to broadband, especially in rural areas
- access to affordable housing, a clean environment, good roads, etc.
And with regard to all of the above, the access to resources has to be equitable and address the root causes of widening wealth disparities.
Local, state and federal governments need to play a lead role in building and supporting this infrastructure. And a key part of this is that they need to recognize the value of this type of community-focused economic development and shift more of their resources towards it. We must shift away from extractive economic development dominated by large players who tend to devalue workers, communities and the planet.
We’re continuing to talk about these questions, and working towards defining a policy agenda in our SEED NM Steering Circle meetings every other week. If you’d like to join us we’d love to have you. Drop us a line through our Contact Form and we can add you to our Zoom meetings.