“How can we create wealth, ensure social equity, and protect the environment?” This question was posed in 2013, as CCEC hosted a Community Conversation on the BC Economy. We were one of the 100 Community Conversations associated with the SFU Public Square project. Our blog captured the feedback of ten CCEC members who participated in the conversation. This blog highlights what we heard from our members as seven years later, we are asking ourselves the same questions.
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?
At CCEC, we want to encourage and foster conversations with members about our political-economy; to foster individual agency and to explore the role of group action and projects.
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.