COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT INVESTING: USTC Client Conference Explores Alternative Models of Development, March 1996
SOCIAL TOPICS (Archive): COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT INVESTING
USTC Client Conference Explores Alternative Models of Development
Published, March 1996
Economic Development Of, By and For People was the theme explored by community activists, social analysts, funders and USTC clients at our day-long conference in late October 1995. Speakers and participants challenged traditional notions of economic development, and investigated options for promoting more meaningful initiatives that result in communities that are more caring, just and empowered.
Morning speakers Frances Moore Lappé and Paul Martin Du Bois, co-authors of The Quickening of America, examined our culture of compulsive material accumulation as well as counter-trends in society which nurture true democracy and self-realization.
A panel on “Sharing and Caring” offered glimpses of social systems that put more value on giving than on accumulation.
Lunchtime speaker Frédérique Apffel Marglin of Smith College focused on the intolerance of modern “science” and the viability of traditional beliefs.
A diverse group of community activists presented an afternoon panel on successful development initiatives that put people first.
Rounding out the day was an informal discussion, led by USTC’s facilitator Robert Zevin, that featured a thoughtful exchange of ideas from conference participants about ways in which social investors can support more meaningful development
Quotes from conference speakers and panelists are highlighted on this page and the next.
"The challenge of the 21st century is no less than: 1) consciously recreating mechanisms for meeting our deep human need for connectedness in ways other than unending accumulation; 2) creating new mechanisms to help us put economics back in its place. Education and experience enable us to distinguish between market exchange as a useful device for distributing goods and services on the one hand, and capitalism as an all encompassing thought system in which every aspect of life is subsumed within it, on the other. In other words, we need to create a democratic culture in which economic life is reimbedded in relationships based on non-economic values."
Frances Moore Lappé, Co-Director of the Center for Living Democracy
"Citizens all across the country now are learning to gain a voice in the future, shaping their communities. They’re coming together, not in simplistic market relationships...but in public relationships of a much broader sort. They are valuing each other for their input into a commonly arrived at vision and they are building a sense of connectedness, of standing, in each others’ eyes. And that’s derived not from some comparative accumulation, in some simplistic sense, but rather from their unique contributions to the whole."
Paul Martin DuBois, Co-Director of the Center for a Living Democracy
"We (Native Americans) have no word for domination, no word for subordination, no words for boss or control. We have no language, no expressions for the concept by which one person controls another...Instead balance and reciprocity are universal concepts...The indigenous understanding has its basis of spirituality in a recognition of the interconnectedness and interdependence of all living things — a holistic and balanced view of the world. All things are bound together. All things connect. What happens to the earth happens to the children of the earth. Man has not woven the web of life; he is but one thread. Whatever he does to the web he does to himself."
Rebecca Adamson, President and Founder of First Nations Development Institute
"Christianity, and more specifically, the established form of Christianity in the black community is the defining economic engine inside the black community. How we do our economics, when we have a choice, is usually defined by the institution of the church. Most of the economy that goes on in the black church now is best described as redeemed capitalism. It is an attempt to take, in an unthreatening way, the economy of this society and use it to the advantage of the black people. And it is based, of course, on the spiritual idea that we are a community and that everyone should give to each other."
Byron Rushing, Massachusetts State Representative
"Through a reflexive look at the way modern western knowledge has looked at “The Other”, and a critique of that, what emerges is a way of seeing these (Peruvian cultures) as not pre-modern, not as in-the-past somewhere on the evolutionary scale, but as real alternatives...for everybody...These cultures clearly have something we could learn from. But to learn, we have to unlearn what we have been taught."
Frédérique Apffel Marglin, Professor of Anthropology, Smith College
"We look for the family that has the greatest need for housing. We want families that accept the philosophy of Habitat which is: pass it on, help your neighbors. They are required to put in 500 hours of sweat equity...When the key is finally turned over, that is not the end of the relationship. We form a partnership — a partnership of equals coming together; the family and the Habitat personnel have their lives enriched by having known each other."
Mary Pottle, South Shore Habitat for Humanity
"This...success (of the Lakota Fund) would not have happened except we (the lenders) are from there (Pine Ridge Reservation), know the people; we know the lay of the land. And it drives home the point that development isn’t something you do to people, but it really has to come from within. We do know what we need for ourselves and because we’re from there (the reservation); we care about what happens to our community. I think that’s the real success of the Lakota Fund."
Elsie Meeks, Executive Director, Lakota Fund
"We all need each other. We are all intricately locked together, all living things...Anytime a person walks out of the community into the streets to live a life of despair, I believe we all lose something, and I mean more than money."
Marc D. Goldfinger, Editor of Spare Change, newsletter by the Boston homeless community
"What we found is that it really is the culture of the company that is most important. If you ask our people in the field about (the company) being worker owned, or what they value about the company, they will say that it feels like home, that people care about them. We see the cooperative structure...as being the context for that and so ensuring that we’ll be the kind of company that’s responsive to the needs of home health aides."
Janet Saglio, Director of Business Services, Home Health Care Training Institute
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