Building a Healthy Economy from the Bottom Up
Harnessing Real-World Experience for Transformative Change
Published by: The University Press of Kentucky
The global economy has witnessed important changes in recent years. In the United States, enterprising communities have transitioned from tobacco farming to growing organic produce, from extractive fishing to vertical farming, from nonrenewable energy consumption to the implementation of solar cooperatives -- and have transformed from impoverished neighborhoods into green development zones. Yet these promising achievements remain a small part of the total economy and are largely ignored by policy makers, pundits, and economists.
In Building a Healthy Economy from the Bottom Up: Harnessing Real World Experience for Transformative Change, Anthony Flaccavento introduces readers to the innovators who are creating thriving, locally based economies and provides a road map for others who are interested in doing the same. He demonstrates that, despite the success of local initiatives like farmers' markets and clean energy cooperatives, true and lasting change of this type stalls without the appropriate discussion and implementation of public policies that define their lasting impact. He shows how active citizens can spur essential changes, generate community capital, increase civic dialogue, and foster sustainability efforts.
Flaccavento skillfully combines economic analysis and public policy recommendations with practical solutions. His call to collective action will appeal to scholars, entrepreneurs, policymakers, community activists, environmentalists, and all citizens passionate about the health of their communities.
"No matter how many books on 'local economies' you have read, you will learn something new and eye-opening from Anthony Flaccavento. Starting with his own organizing efforts in Southwest Virginia, Flaccavento spins the colorful tales of successful grassroots economy-building in Appalachia and in small towns and low-income neighborhoods across the United States. There's so much inspiring material packed into these pages, I challenge anyone to read it and NOT want to buy from, invest in, or even start a local business in food, energy, or finance. This book will change readers' lives." -- Michael H. Shuman, author of The Local Economy Solution
"There is a movement happening. The secret is that it is successful and has been going on for a long time--for American agriculture it started over 30 years ago with the 1980s farm crisis. All of us 'on the ground' owe Anthony a debt of gratitude, for he, as one of us, has paused for a moment from the work to capture the root causes, our community-led responses, and the path forward. In a world that is often full of despair, Anthony shares the growing hope that is more prevalent than acknowledged." -- Martin Richards, "recovering tobacco farmer" and Executive Director Community Farm Alliance
"Flaccavento deftly weaves a big-picture vision for building a better economy -- one that truly serves our needs and long-term well-being -- with down-to-earth stories and practical tips for how to set these changes in motion within your own household and community." -- Stacy Mitchell, codirector of the Institute for Local Self-Reliance, and author of Big-Box Swindle
" Building a Healthy Economy from the Bottom Up is an invaluable guidebook for those who seek to liberate their communities from colonial servitude to Wall Street and the money-seeking corporate robots that come only to take." -- David C. Korten, author of Change the Story, Change the Future: A Living Economy for a Living Earth
"Flaccavento brings a completely unique perspective to economics, which is to say that he is both entertaining and factual. Economists generally aren't concerned with either. I recommend this book to those who have come to realize our country is running on fumes and who desire to explore what's next." -- Kimber Lanning, founder and director of Local First Arizona
"The main achievement here is in synthesizing a literature that has been emerging for twenty or thirty years and doing so in a manner that is clear, readable, and effective." -- Paul B. Thompson, author of The Agrarian Vision: Sustainability and Environmental Ethics
"Through a series of narratives and case studies, Flaccavento illustrates real stories of changes from the 'bottom up' that are initiated and led by community members. He weaves these stories into a cogent critique of how these economic policies have harmed middle- and lower-income Americans and further, how this large-scale economy has harmed community life." -- A. Whitney Sanford, author of Growing Stories from India: Religion and the Fate of Agriculture
"This work will be considered current for a number of years, as the stories and examples are very up to date and seem to be on the cutting edge of knowledge and thinking in this area." -- John Ikerd, University of Missouri-Columbia
"A blessing of a book. It is rich in stories and detail for the curious or discouraged and those seeking a strategy to move toward a sustainable and equitable future.
Flaccavento excels as a storyteller, reporting on successful "bottom-up" ventures and experiments in building new systems around food, energy, health services, worker ownership, community finance, and place-based arts and culture." -- YES! Weekly
" Building a Health Economy from the Bottom Up is a timely book that fits well into the current political dialogue, offering a significant contribution to the field of rural community planning, and will have wide appeal among students and practitioners." -- Journal of Planning Education and Research