In today’s society, the term ‘economy’ refers to people thinking individually to pursue capital gain. This removes a sense of community and partnership from current economic models, reducing the power and capacity of the community when making decisions concerning their local economy. At the Institute for Ecological Civilization, we attempt to maximize the sense of community supported by the economy through the creation of a wellbeing economy. What is this? A wellbeing economy supports the long-term wellbeing of both people and the planet by prioritizing people and planet above profit, engaging in participatory democracy, and equity and dignity for all. Its success is measured through indicators of community wellbeing such as community engagement, a sense of security, a focus towards local-level investments and overall feelings of emotional wellbeing. This reduces the importance of measures that focus on development and growth, such as GDP, and brings the focus back to the community and their overall care. Most importantly, we attempt to bring humanity back to economic models and put people first.
How do we measure a wellbeing economy? We attempt to quantify measures that lead to an improvement of one’s life, which include loneliness, community ownership, food insecurity, and wealth inequality. When looking at these metrics, we can determine the health of the economy as not just GDP or other impersonal quantitative measures, but as qualitative and quantitative measures that ensure the longevity and security of the community. For EcoCiv, the most important theme to measure a wellbeing economy is a feeling of connection and belonging, providing a sense of community within the economic model. This is an alternative to current economic models, which is the radical concentration of wealth, exploitation of workers, and degradation of the planet . Thus, we wish to see changes within economic models towards an economy that works for all people and supports long-term sustainability of the planet.
Our Wellbeing Economies work is based in Pomona, California where we are creating keystone projects to promote a wellbeing economy on the local level. In Pomona, our major goal is to create a worker-owned cooperative that allows workers to benefit directly from their workplace as well as to help provide jobs to individuals facing barriers to employment. The cooperative invests its profits locally to support the local community, rather than large multinationals. Lina Mira, the Executive Director of our partner organization, Latino Latina Roundtable, expresses that our work in Pomona provides the community with a “dignified life” so as not to live “paycheck to paycheck” and to pursue things in life that “add joy.” Our work ensures that the community’s livelihoods can be upheld and improved in the long term. It provides a prime example of the successes of a wellbeing economy in action.
At EcoCiv, we recognize the importance of ensuring the care of the community, thus we take their emotional as well as their economic needs at the forefront of our wellbeing economies strategy. Thus, our work is done through the lenses of compassion, kindness, justice, inclusivity, equity and empathy. We connect individuals, other organizations, the environment, and the government to determine what steps are the best to ensure the wellbeing of both people and the planet. We see our work in Pomona acting as a model for other places around the world to achieve a wellbeing and greener economy. This implementation elsewhere is an important step in returning a sense of humanity to current economic models.
Written by: Juliana Arnold
EcoCiv’s Communications and Writing Assistant