On September 11th, ten CCEC members got together for a “Community Conversation” on the BC Economy. CCEC was hosting one of the planned 100 Community Conversations associated with the SFU Public Square project that culminates with a Community Summit later this month.
Simply put, the BC Economy question being considered was, “How can we create wealth, ensure social equity, and protect the environment?” The response of our members was animated and insightful.
The group first challenged the idea of a ‘BC Economy’, expressing the view that it was really an aggregation of several local and regional economies that were very distinct. The consensus view was that the framing of the question was biased to mega-projects, large scale interventions and comparisons to global ‘norms’; a view that discounts small business and local exchange. One voice noted that this abstraction was much removed from people’s everyday life.
Secondly, the conversation explored the term ‘create wealth’. Harvesting natural ‘wealth’ is not creating wealth. And GDP growth is a narrow indicator that certainly does not measure community well being. Much discussion evolved around other more meaningful measures of community health in political-economic terms; suggestions included child poverty rates, street homelessness counts, and a happiness index. It was observed that the ‘wealth created’ by the Exxon Valdez disaster, as an example, was not to be pursued as a ‘good thing’.
The group also wondered aloud about the waste created by industrial activity and a culture of consumption. Why does conventional economics ignore, or downplay, the despoiled air, water and earth passed to future generations? Why are there such inequalities with so many left in the margins? Why do those in power deny and discount climate change?
The evening generated a set on observations which has been passed along to SFU Public Square, to be part of their process and report. Beyond that, CCEC was encouraged to foster more conversations with members about our political-economy; to foster individual agency and the explore the role of group action and projects as may be appropriate. You may not know that "CCEC" was originally adopted by the credit union because the precursor organization that collected pledges to found the credit union was the Community Congress for Economic Change.
You are encouraged to take part in other events associated with the upcoming Community Summit.