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Local Peace Economy 101

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Source: CODEPINK

Understanding the Local Peace Economy and how to divest from the war economy that is destroying life and well-being on this planet.

Image courtesy of CODEPINK
April M. Short is a co-founder of the Observatory, where she is the Local Peace Economy editor. She is also a writing fellow at the Independent Media Institute.
Jodie Evans is the co-founder of CODEPINK and has been a peace, environmental, women’s rights, and social justice activist for over 50 years.
This article was produced by Local Peace Economy, a project of the Independent Media Institute.
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Welcome to the Local Peace Economy

By Jodie Evans

The following video is an introduction to the concept of Local Peace Economy, by Jodie Evans, co-founder of CODEPINK.

As an anti-war activist it became clear during the Obama administration years—a time when the antiwar movement and peace movement were shriveled to near nothing because few would listen—that we couldn't end war until we ended the war economy. War funds the war economy, which is the extractive, destructive, oppressive economy that's killing us, our communities, and the planet.

At this time in history we are living through our own mythological flood. Cultures all around the world have stories of floods that have swept through with mass upheaval and destruction. The flood of our times is going to be a great big tsunami. The effects of global inequality, climate change, $2 trillion worth of weapons sold each year, and the impending AI—all these experiments on humanity, are going to bring a violence unlike any seen before. We are witnessing it already, in whole cities being burned to ash by fires in the U.S. and around the world, in floods in Pakistan that have displaced 100 million people, in worsening weather everywhere, in the disappearing permafrost, drought and food shortages around the world. Historically fascism and violence are the response to this level of disruption of the fabrics of society that we are currently seeing. We are witnessing history repeat itself again, as wars are erupting around the world and many countries are becoming increasingly fascist.

Peace Economy Is the Ark

There is no such thing as an apocalypse, but there are storms to weather and upheavals to transcend. If our current moment is a flood, what does the ark to get through this flood look like? It looks like cultivating our local peace economies. A peace economy is the giving, sharing, thriving, caring economy without which none of us would be alive. It is the sharing of resources, and the remembrance that there is enough abundance for all of us on this planet. It is the return to a culture that understands true value and wealth exist in nurturing life, love and joy. It is the uplifting of all people in a given community. And it begins right where you are, at the local community level.

The United States of America has actively destroyed the very concept of peace economy since its foundation, by the enslavement of Africans and the genocide of Indigenous peoples who lived in a way that sustained life and humanity. This process of destruction has been going on for over 400 years. Now, we have reached a pivot point at which, if we are a thinking human being, we can see the costs of these violences. We can see how this system of domination, colonialism and greed has risen to a crescendo of violence, destruction and the contortions of humanity.

As we look out at the power structures and the level of violence in our world, we can feel small, fragile, and incapable. While we didn’t create the war economy, we are all a part of it. It has forced our habits, it has forced our behaviors. The first thing we can do to begin to shift our investment of energy away from the war economy is recognize our roles in it. I am a peace activist, and I’ve had to recognize that I am also part of the war economy, even as I want peace.

Divesting from the War Economy

The realities of living through the COVID-19 pandemic did a very good job of teaching us what is essential for life, and teaching us how locked we are in an enslavement to the war economy. Now, many people are finding their way out. Divesting ourselves from the war economy is a cyclical, ever-winding journey. We’ve created 21 Ways of Divesting from the War Economy that you can practice and engage with. This is a process that will make you smarter about the world you live in. The supportive tools we offer will help you take responsibility for co-creating the war economy; break out of habits and patterns that keep you locked in it; and spend the extra energy you will inevitably have once you begin to shift away from the war economy, in cultivating a local peace economy.

Why Reconnecting Mind, Body, and Heart Helps Cultivate Peace Economy

Cultivating a local peace economy begins with cultivating a sense of “home sweet home” inside of ourselves. In order to live as healthy, contributing, peace-loving, and sharing humans, we need an inner sense of home sweet home—a nurturing, soft, abundant, supportive space within our own consciousness. For this reason, mindfulness practices are an essential component to divesting from the war economy and cultivating a peace economy.

This relates to the way our brains work. When we sense pain or danger, our brains often automatically shift us into stress and trauma response patterns that, when overactivated as they are for most people in the war economy, are destructive to us. These stress and trauma responses are the same ones that may have kept our early ancestors safe by triggering stress hormones when it was time to run or hide from large predators. These stress responses have gone haywire in our modern brains, however, often triggering those primal activities when we don’t actually need them. Some of us have become addicted to our stress responses, and because of the levels of stress many people experience due to the constant bombardments of our current world, our nervous systems are frayed and our brains send us into stress reactions that are not relational to the actual moment.

We are body, mind and heart. In order to create home sweet home within ourselves, we have to find our way back into a relationship with all of these parts of ourselves, so that we can use all of the tools we are gifted with to serve life.

Cultivating Local Peace Economy Is About Serving Life

At the core, cultivating a local peace economy is about serving life. How did we get to this moment when we are so ungrateful, so unrelational with this very thing we are, which is life? Imagine millions of years of life forming itself in various organisms from the water, into mud, and then into the form of this human that is you. How many forms of life had to learn, grow, create, expand for you to be here? How much serendipity and ecstasy had to happen to create the space for life to thrive, expand, and live in the fecundity of what this planet is: joy and wonder and discovery?

Part of what the war economy does is it crushes our very capacity to experience this. It takes us away from life itself. It crushes our imagination and creativity. We are creations. Creativity is who we are, and yet, creativity itself has been stolen and enslaved again by the war economy.

Creating a local peace economy is about finding ways to create aliveness for ourselves, and for those closest to us. The people you can affect are the people closest to you—and those are the people you are going to need when we are all experiencing the effects of the calamity humanity has put in motion (and no one in government seems to be doing anything to take them out of motion). Moving through this flood is going to come down to local support systems.

We know what the impacts of the war economy are, and we suffer from them daily. People who are poor, people of color in the United States and around the world, are suffering most. It is up to us living in the war-and-terror-based empire that is the U.S., who feel a responsibility to pivot, to change our habits, and to create a local peace economy.

Creating Local Peace Economy Is Not Linear

Creating peace economy is not a linear path. Living within a war economy, we’ve known time as a tyrant. At the workplace it’s about being on time, being on the clock, being more productive in a shorter amount of time. It serves the war economy’s need for us to experience scarcity and takes us away from our relationship with ourselves, our intuition, and our creativity.

Time is not a tyrant. Time is actually quite feminine. It’s circular and it moves from past to present to future. It can teach us, if we can be in a dance with it instead of being in the prison of it. Part of how the war economy works is imprisoning us in things, time being one of them. We have to take back our relationship to time.  

At the root of the war economy is enslavement and genocide. Right now those roots are spreading, and they have horrific consequences.

To move away from this, you only need to pivot. You only need to practice. I promise you that after six months of hard work and practice (something that I call the “birthing process,” because breaking habits is not easy it brings up grief and the traumas of what living in a war economy entails), you will find you are cultivating a community of caring and sharing, and participating in a great spiraling circle where we are all rising together. You’ll find you are helping us all remember what is of true value. When we are not in this together, we devolve into violence and fascism.

There's so much we can do all day, everyday, to stay engaged, connected, and nourish the heart with the sense of fulfillment it longs for, which is something the war economy can never provide. This is why we’ve created 21 Days of Divesting from the War Economy. What I find as my practices deepen is that I become a tuning fork for another way of being in our violent culture. One practice that never seems to leave me is the realization of how transactional we have been acculturated to become. I catch myself everyday making a choice that has a transactional result instead of a relational nourishment. Even as we all know the only things of real value are relationships, even those with ourselves. In this time of rampant narcissism, which reflects the lack of relationship with ourselves, it becomes our responsibility to be in a deeper relationship with our patterns and ourselves. As within, so without.

There are many layers, and many ways to enter. I suggest reading a little, practicing a little, and finding partners. This work of divesting and rebuilding is a spiraling, circular dance which takes you backwards and forwards, and with each spin you take, you become better able to nourish those closest to you. In nourishing, we will change what’s happening in the world. We just need to remember and reconnect.

Remember, and come back to who you are: an amazing gift on the planet, in this moment in history that is ours to be in a complex relationship with. There are no problems to solve. The solving of problems got us here. Every time we think it’s a problem to solve we create more problems. We will never understand the complexities of humanity, but we can be in relationship with, in awe of, and in celebration of complexities. I hope you’ll join us in the peace economy. We’ll take you on a beautiful journey.

Image courtesy of CODEPINK.

10 Ingredients for Local Peace Economy

By Jodie Evans

In 2016 we witnessed a unique moment in U.S. political history. Defying the expectations of most pundits and against all odds, a candidate who is a self-professed democratic socialist, a principled senator from the small, mostly rural state of Vermont, won the hearts and minds of millions of Americans, who rallied, campaigned, argued, protested, and voted for him. Out of the sorrow and despair that comes from living with extreme economic inequality and endless war, a powerful movement has continued to grow.

And though Bernie Sanders did not win the U.S. presidency, he and the growing movement to break the power of the ruling class (the 1%) will not be stopped. The time is ripe. As Croatian activist and philosopher Srecko Horvat reminds us, “a truly revolutionary moment is like love; it is a crack in the world, in the usual running of things, in the dust that is layered all over in order to prevent anything new.”

We have come together in love and created an opening in the status quo. Still united, we are ready to leap through this crack and transform the usual way of doing things.

As Bernie would be the first to say, this movement is not just about one man or one election. He is just one in a long line of leaders, men and women, who have been and are still working for peace, equity, social justice and the regeneration of our planet. His campaign provided a moment of opportunity. Through his campaign, many realized they had more power than they thought. The pillars of his candidacy are values we need to continue building on to develop a true people’s revolution.

The Power of Imagination

“Logic will get you from A to B. Imagination will take you everywhere.” — Albert Einstein

Imagining change is the first step to realizing change. If you can’t imagine a possibility, it will remain “unimaginable.” To imagine the world as we would like it to be is the first step to making the vision come true. When Bernie declared college tuition should be free, the idea began to seem not only reasonable, but possible. Our nation expanded the boundaries of its imagination and thereby took a big step closer to making free higher education possible. It always seems impossible until it is done.

In the same way, Bernie’s campaign helped millions of Americans imagine medical care as a basic human right, higher taxes on the 1%.

As the rich get richer and the poor get poorer, our collective imagination shrinks. Those who benefit from the status quo want things to stay the same, and since they control so many major media sources, we get countless messages telling us it will never be possible to change the system that delivers economic injustice and war on a daily basis.

At the same time, the illusion that war and economic exploitation are inevitable goes hand in hand with the illusion that we are powerless. And the feeling of powerlessness at home and abroad contributes to violence and warfare by feeding our despair,a sense of hopelessness that can makes it difficult to organize a mass movement against war and for a more equitable peace economy.

But this vicious cycle can be turned around. The imagination is powerful. If, as John Lennon suggests, we imagine peace every day, war will begin to seem less and less acceptable. Reality is defined by the limits of our imagination.

We have the power right now to imagine peace, justice and equality. But with power comes responsibility.

Fannie Lou Hamer, the great civil rights leader who began her life as a sharecropper, used to tell a story about an old man who was so wise he could answer question that were almost impossible to answer. So two young men decided to trick him. They planned to bring him a bird and ask him if it was alive or dead. Being blind he could not see for himself, so they decided if he said the bird was dead, he would be wrong and if he said it was alive, they would kill the bird. But when they asked him, “This bird we hold in our hands, is it alive or dead?” he wisely answered, “It’s in your hands.”

The Power of Desire

“For me, imagination and desire are very close.” — Jeanette Winterson

There is a scene in Oliver Twist, after Oliver is given a meager portion of food at the orphanage, he asks for, “More, please?” Not only is his request denied, but Oliver learns that he is forbidden even to ask.

We cannot suppress our desires for equity, peace and justice or let anything get in the way of our abilities to ask for more. To inquire, demand, or want are all revolutionary acts, the first steps in social and political transformation.

Since we live in an economy that constantly creates trivial or false desires, we all have to dig a little deeper to discover what we really want. Do we want to win the lottery or do we want to sit at the table with dignity and respect, knowing that everyone will be fed and cared for? While the first wish is a long shot that, whether we win or lose, isolates us from others, the second wish, for economic justice, can be achieved, especially if we unite with others to achieve what we all want.

We have witnessed the power of people who come together with a fervent desire for what is just. Desire is contagious, as we take action, we catch the longing for a better world from each other.

The Power of Knowledge

“The range of what we think and do is limited by what we fail to notice. And because we fail to notice there is little we can do to change until we notice how failing to notice shapes our thoughts and deeds.” — R.D. Laing

You may have a very strong wish that every young person, regardless of family income, have access to a college education. But suppose when you call for free college tuition you are told that the government cannot afford it. With the power of knowledge you can dispute that argument. For instance, did you know that the F-35 fighter jet program was budgeted at $1.4 trillion? This is more than enough to fund free college tuition for every college-age person for 25 years.

The systemic and structural racism exposed in Michelle Alexander’s The New Jim Crow has given the movement for black lives, which heightened from the protests these last two years, an irrefutable base to stand on. Alexander’s book gave concrete form to what black Americans have known through lived experience for decades: that the war on drugs and the prison-industrial complex have been used as tools of oppression against people of color and especially black men for decades. By bringing knowledge to bear on the problem, Alexander is informing the solution and empowering the movement working to bring about positive change.

Education is vital especially what we learn outside the structures that are so often designed to serve the ruling class. If we study political theory, history, economics and literature (think of all the injustice that Dickens was exposing) we can take charge of, deepen and advance the conversation. Veterans of successful political movements are also sources of wisdom we need.

Trusting your own perceptions is often the first step toward change. As the best resource we all have is our innate ability to question and dispute authority, call out lies, gather data, express rational arguments, and above all speak out. It is the core of our work at CodePink. We find ourselves in Congress, and many other places of power — consulates and embassies, weapons makers, killer drone bases — disputing the lies that drive us to war almost every day.

The Power of Courage

“Knowing what must be done, does away with fear.” — Rosa Parks

If you find your courage failing you, just think of the root of the word. Coeur in French means heart. Courage comes from caring, from the heart. What do you care about: the lives of your children, your family, the survival of your community, peace, justice and global equity? Thinking of this will give you courage.

To start a war might look at first glance like courage. At least it’s sold as that from entertainment to presidential speeches. But in fact, the greatest courage may come from diplomacy, from trying to forge an understanding with “the other side,” the one defined as an enemy, and by finding agreement, stopping unneeded bloodshed. (Remember that less than century ago many of the countries we are in alliance with now, Germany, Italy and Japan, were thought of as enemies.)

By the same token, to speak out against war takes courage. And to ask our nation to abide by international laws regarding attacks against civilians or torture may take even more. But you’ll find the courage to speak when you open your heart to the victims of these acts. Courage isn’t fearlessness. Medea Benjamin and I often find ourselves holding hands and shaking before the disruption of a war criminal. Yes, our act will have consequences, but the acts of those who take us to war on lies fuels our courage and the fear becomes meaningless. When is it time to risk everything in support of change?

The Power of Truth-telling

“…all these walls that oppression builds/Will have to go!” — Langston Hughes

And truth has a power of its own. This is something women discovered at the dawn of the second wave of the Women’s Liberation Movement as we met in small groups to reveal angers, sorrows, disappointments, fears and traumas we had been keeping secret. Some women spoke about having had abortions, others about having been raped. Others said they were unhappy or facing abuse in their marriages or at their jobs. Eventually these confessions coalesced into a clear picture of the oppression of women and into a powerful movement to fight that oppression and all oppression. Indeed, whenever any of us speak out we are tearing down the walls of oppression for all of us.

In the last decade, as our nation continues waging perpetual war, we are experiencing another kind of truth-telling, in the tradition of Daniel Ellsberg, who exposed the truth about the Vietnam war. We have whistleblowers like Chelsea Manning and Edward Snowden revealing the way we’re all being spied upon by our government, illegal torture and acts of war. As Americans it is our responsibility to tell the truth about the injustices committed within and by our political system.

The Power of Connecting

“You think you understand one. You think you understand two, because one and one make two. But, you must also understand ‘and.’” — Sufi saying

The power to connect with each other over what we cherish and how we may have suffered is among the most powerful tools we have to organize an effective movement for change. By connecting we learn from each other and in the process enlarge the scope and effectiveness of our efforts many fold.

Because of the traditional roles we’ve learned to play, many women are very good at navigating differences and peacemaking, the skills that include caring, mutual respect, listening, a willingness to look beyond assumptions and stereotypes, a certain measure of selflessness and an ability to connect to the real person, past fame and titles. Nineteenth-century poet Emily Dickinson’s words seem relevant here, “I’m nobody! Who are you?/ Are you — Nobody too/Then there’s a pair of us.”

If we are to have peace in the world, we must all, men and women alike, learn to be relational. But in the meantime let’s promote many more women in the peacemaking process.

The power to connect is also crucial to the way we think about the social and political problems we share. Just as in any ecological community every being affects every other being, the issues we are confronting today are connected. Peace cannot be separated from justice or the economy. Just as wars are fought over resources like oil and water, the manufacturers of arms and the nuclear industry have too much influence over our government. We also need to connect the dots between well over half of our tax dollars going to war and militarism while the needs of our communities, such as healthy drinking water in Flint, Michigan go unmet.

During the protest in Ferguson, Medea and I met a mother from Texas who had also lost her son to police violence. We invited her and a dozen other mothers to Washington DC to tell their stories to Congress, the White House and the Department of Justice. Their fierce truths and unyielding force for justice startled everyone they met. But the most valuable experience was the connections they made with each other, which have nurtured the fight they now continued together.

The more we connect with each other and share our experiences and stories, the more robust our movement can grow and the more we see how everything is connected, the wider and deeper our vision will be. This also means connecting to movements globally.

The Power of Commitment

“Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart, and try to love the questions themselves.” — Rainer Maria Rilke

Revolutions do not appear out of nowhere. Though it may have seemed that the student movement that grew so rapidly in the ’60s came from thin air, it was preceded by countless protests, meetings, writing, legislative efforts, acts of courage that continued throughout the ’50s in protest to McCarthyism and racism. Similarly the women’s liberation movement grew out of and learned from various student, anti-nuclear and anti-Vietnam War movements and civil rights activism.

Even successful movements that appear to have arisen over night have been preceded by continued and patient efforts, efforts that include election campaigns that may have been lost in the short run but that, in the long run, seeded greater change. If you look at the progress of LGBT rights for instance you’ll find some victories and many “failures.” Yet all these efforts ultimately counted not only to widen human rights, but to enlarge our ideas about who we are.

Some issues like demanding an end to nuclear weapons can seem the monster in a nightmare who keeps coming back no matter how many times you vanquish it. Here is where real commitment comes to play. Perhaps, because it may take more than a lifetime to end the production of nuclear weapons, you will not see the change while you are still alive, but all life, the lives of our children and grandchildren are in balance.

Think of what philosopher Martin Buber said when he was asked what he would do if he knew he would die tomorrow. I would plant a tree, he replied. Too often our views are in reaction to what is happening around us. We need to be committed to the deepest values we desire for the planet and the human race and let those in politics choose to compromise.

Tim Carpenter was a deputy in the Brown for President campaign I managed 24 years ago. Like Bernie, Jerry Brown ran a campaign that represented the needs of the people against the rich and powerful. Decades later, it was Tim Carpenter who was relentless in his calls for Bernie to run, and it was at his memorial service after his long fight with cancer that Bernie agreed. It was the power of Tim’s commitment to push Bernie and Bernie’s lifelong commitment to his values that created a force of trust that was potent in building power.

The Power of Creation

“We come from the creator with creativity. Each one of us is born with creativity.” — Maya Angelou

If the first step is to imagine, the next is to create and build. And the third is to realize you can’t do it alone. And if you reach out for help, you’ll discover hidden wells of creativity all around you. Creation itself is a collaborative act, if only between your ideas and the material you are shaping, whether it is wood or words, a community or a protest march. If you have ever watched a house being built you’ve probably witnessed a collaborative effort. The architect and the carpenters and the plumbers and electrician, painters, masons and roofers, must all work together, letting each other know their requirements and limits, and accommodating their plans when necessary.

Everyone has unique gifts to contribute. If you ask participants what they can or want to give, you will be surprised by the rich possibilities. And while building anything; you are also building a network. Meeting in person always has at least more than one purpose. The first may be to reach a decision collaboratively. But the second is to build trust and community. This is what peace looks like. (The opposite of war.)

The Power of Change

“Forget your perfect offering./There is a crack in everything./That’s how the light gets in.” — Leonard Cohen

As you call for change you are changed. Nothing in this world is static. Any movement for change will change you too. But if it takes courage to challenge the status quo, the challenge can also give you courage. And since change can be frightening, we all need this courage, especially at this moment in history, when because of climate disruption, we are not only going to have to change business as usual but the ways we live. To shift from a war to a peace economy will also require a transformation not only of society but of our own lives.

Is there a way to see each crack in our worlds as letting the light in? If to stop climate change we use less oil for instance, perhaps we will also be removing the cause of endless war over that resource in the Middle East. At the same time ending our perpetual wars would release public funds to help build more egalitarian and cooperative economies in our communities.

When we look at the decades long struggle for justice for the Palestinian people, we see the way the U.S government subsidizes Israel’s occupation and effectively shields Israel from accountability for its violations of international law. A huge change we have seen in the middle of Bernie’s campaign was for the first time in recent memory, a presidential candidate talked sympathetically about the plight of Palestinians in the Occupied West Bank and Gaza. It was a result of the boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) movement which was created to hold Israel to account for its apartheid system, land theft and war crimes.

Not only are boycott campaigns having an impact on public perception of Israel’s occupation profiteering, they are also having profound reputational and economic effects on companies such as Ahava, SodaStream, Airbnb, and RE/MAX. The BDS Movement is growing stronger every day, to the extent that attempts are being made to pass laws that punish those who boycott Israel. Recently New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signed an Executive Order that will create a blacklist of organizations that support boycott and divestment against Israel, but here again we have an opportunity to broaden support for BDS by showing this to be an attack on the First Amendment and our right to boycott.

The Power of Love

“Justice is what love looks like in public.” — Cornel West

“Love is an expression of power. We can use it to transform our world.” — Ericka Huggins

Everything you do is more powerful and lasting when it is motivated by love instead of hate or fear. Love grows a movement. Hate and violence do too, but not in the way you may want. Think about the effect of drone strike on those who have been wounded or lost family members. A strategy meant to instill fear also instills rage.

On the other hand the Marshall plan, American’s contribution to rebuilding Europe after World War II, was responsible for creating decades of peace between European nations.

Bernie cautioned those around not to act from personal hate. Hate injustice, war, climate change, inequality. But let that hate be transformed into a wild fire of love for others, an inspiration to create and grow peace. Trump is the poster child for hate. Let his small-minded and mean-spirited attacks be daily reminders to act from love.

Love and justice are both victims of war. We can turn that around by acting for justice with love while we build a peace economy.

Bringing It Home

“We who believe in freedom cannot rest.” — Ella Baker

Every transaction we make in our daily lives ultimately contributes toward building a peace economy or a war economy, a world of compassion, justice and well being, or a world of indifference and violence. The peace economy model encourages us to reinvest in our local communities and build relationships with the people we live near. It calls for creating cultural, social and economic models that cultivate a sense of respect and self-determination for all our communities. We cannot make these changes without the foundational building blocks of the very peace and justice we are seeking.

The peace economy already exists, it is the giving, sharing, caring, resilient relation economy without which none of us would be alive. We have to start valuing it more than the war economy. The first step is realizing the impact that our daily actions have in local and global communities and change these in a way that reinvest in the people and the earth. Take the macro problem to the micro.

And when facing intransigence, despair, cynicism or doubt, you can disarm your audience with humour. CodePink started in the summer after 9/11 after the new director of Homeland Security had instituted a self-serious method of alerts with a rainbow of colors specifying the degree of danger the USA was facing: code red for a severe level of danger, orange for high danger, yellow for elevated. Almost immediately this became the but of several jokes. At a meeting of women leaders and artists of all kinds, we added our own humor to the mix, coming up with “Code Hot Pink.” Soon this became CodePink.

Of course, we weren’t exactly joking, but hilarity and satire are weapons that oppressed and disempowered people often use to begin to level the field. CodePink has kept the spirit of irreverence alive, giving hawkish leaders a pink slip (taking off and handing over garments hidden under T-shirts to dramatize the moment), circling the White House with women wearing pink, unfurling pink banners to expose the truth during congressional hearings. This garners attention as ways to say what everyone knows but no one has the courage to speak. But it also does something at least equally important. Through laughter we bring down those who are bloated with power and lift our own spirits at the same time.

Your next revolutionary act can be divesting from the unjust, extractive war economy into building a just peace economy for all. (Find out how at CodePink.org.)

Where do you live? What are the problems you and your neighbors face? Is there too much violence in your neighborhood? If we gather together to explore solutions we become more creative and powerful. Then we can find the solutions we truly want. Instead of the militarized police force that so many of our governments offer us, we can work to get guns out of our communities, and at the same time, advocate for shifting the large portion of our federal budget devoted to war to provide better education, after school programs and jobs for our children.

Do you live in a college town? Has that college divested from investments in oil, weapons and Israel? Is it offering programs that serve your community? Is it part of the war or a peace economy?

Are there military bases or munitions factories in your community, or near your water supply? The military is one of the greatest polluters all over the world. Test your water. Find out what toxic waste dumps are in your communities, what has been dumped there, what are the effects of these chemicals on your community’s health.

Can you find locally produced or grown food near where you live? Are there empty lots that can be used to grow vegetables or as the sites for affordable housing?

Is there a way you can support locally produced goods? If you have to use a chain store, does that corporation support unions, have fair hiring practices, pay a decent wage, divest from fossil fuels, sell locally produced and organic products, donate profits back into your community? As a customer you can influence the policies of the businesses you patronize.

You have the right to demand the safe, supportive environments a peace economy can provide.

Remember, “It’s in your hands.”

Image courtesy of CODEPINK.

Another World Is Possible

By Medea Benjamin

Between the convulsed and battered world that exists and the joyful, wholesome world that lives in our dreams, there is a vast space that beckons us.

Our women-led peace group, CODEPINK, has been living in that space since our founding in 2002, right after the 9/11 attacks. We have seen, up close and personal, how the politicians, weapons makers and military contractors connived to wage war and profit from the mayhem. We have seen how corporate greed kills and how unaccountable political systems lead to a repetition of the same tragic policies.

My own clash with the world “as it is” began in the late 1970s when I was a young woman traveling the planet to “teach poor people how to eat better.” It sounds ludicrous but that was really my job as a nutritionist with the UN Food and Agriculture Organization. A master’s degree in public health certainly did not prepare me for the world I discovered. I found baby food companies convincing poor African mothers to spend their meager resources on powdered milk; the result was that the mothers’ breast milk would dry up and their babies would die. I witnessed fruit companies displacing Central American farmers and building vast pesticide-ridden plantations to export bananas, leaving the local population landless and hungry. I saw how weapons makers profited from violence, selling their deadly wares to both sides in conflicts from Central America to southern Africa. I discovered governments, including my own, lying, stealing and and squandering the people’s resources, while UN “experts” like myself pretended to have answers but really perpetuated the same maldevelopment from the Global North to the Global South.

I witnessed the abysmal failure of the two rival but very similar forms of 20th century “development”: corporate-dominated capitalism and state-run socialism. But I also discovered that all over the world, people were not only resisting but creating alternatives and envisioning radically different ways of living together.

A prime example was the Zapatistas of Chiapas, Mexico. Among the poorest indigenous groups in the country, they rose up in 1994 to reject globalization and create new self-governing indigenous communities. They showed the world a new model of grassroots democracy and connected their local revolutionary practices to the global struggle, inviting people from around the world to visit them. “In the world of the powerful there is room only for the big and their helpers,” the Zapatistas reflected. “In the world we want, everybody fits. The world we want is a world in which many worlds fit.”

The Zapatista uprising coincided with the implementation of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), a corporate-friendly trade agreement that destroyed the livelihoods of millions of Mexican farmers by allowing the import of cheap US corn grown on megafarms. This struggle against globalization became focused on the World Trade Organization (WTO), an unaccountable corporate-oriented institution bent on rewriting the rules for the global economy to increase private profit at the expense of people and the planet. At the 1999 WTO meeting in Seattle, an extraordinary coalition of labor, environment, and faith-based groups shut down the meeting and focused world attention on the need for alternatives to top-down, corporate-run globalization.

Groups seeking alternatives then began to gather globally, exchanging ideas and building alliances at meetings called World Social Forums. Starting in 2001 in Brazil as an alternative to the capitalist World Economic Forum that meets yearly in Davos, Switzerland, World Social Forums were subsequently held in locations ranging from Venezuela and India to Kenya and Tunisia. They became pilgrimages where activists gathered to absorb new ideas, debate alternatives, and hear from leaders, such as Evo Morales in Bolivia and Lula da Silva in Brazil, who rose to power with the goal of meeting human needs while respecting the earth.

The Forums also became a space to propose cross-continental campaigns. One example was the February 15, 2002 coordinated day of protests across the world in which millions of people in more than 600 cities showed their opposition to the imminent invasion of Iraq. Another is the community rights movement’s campaign to make the rights of nature legally binding, or the cross-continental call from Nnimmo Bassey’s poem, I Will Not Dance To Your Beat, “leave the oil in the soil, the coal in the hole, and the tar sands in the land.”

The Forum’s motto was “another world is possible,” which helped activists move from a feeling of isolation and despair to one of empowerment and connectedness. The brilliant Indian writer and activist Arundhati Roy used just two sentences to capture this hope in the midst of global chaos: “Another world is not only possible, she is on her way. On a quiet day, I can hear her breathing.”

While over the years the forums have lost some of their initial luster, they do continue and now there are a plethora of organizations and gatherings that connect people involved in resistance movements and post-capitalist experiments. One such organization is Via Campesina, a global movement that coordinates small farmers, agricultural workers, rural women, and indigenous communities striving for sustainable agriculture and food sovereignty.

While the dominant Western worldview focuses on the individual, private property and free markets, and relies a dominance ethic that put humans above nature, men above women, lighter-skinned people over darker ones, these bottom-up initiatives strive to align human activity with rhythms of nature and promote cooperation over competitiveness. Some of these experiments revive or re-interpret ancestral indigenous worldviews or religious traditions; others emerge from new social movements. The ethical principles uniting these initiatives include interdependence, simplicity, solidarity, justice, equity, sustainability, ecological wisdom, respect for the commons, localization, participation, cultural diversity, nonviolence and peace. They are the seeds of radical and systemic change.

As globalization and war destabilize entire regions and create millions of refugees, a dangerous drift towards authoritarianism is taking place all over the world, from the Philippines to India, from Europe to the United States. This makes the task of growing a local peace economy all the more urgent. And with the twin possibilities of nuclear annihilation and ecological collapse, we either find new ways of living together or perish.

While capitalist idealogues continue to sell the idea that “There Is No Alternative” (TINA) or the mind-numbing concept that capitalism represents “the end of history,” we know better.

A term used by some academics is “pluriverse.” As opposed to universe, it suggests a world that encourages diversity, a world where all people co-exist with dignity and peace. A pluriversal world is one that overcomes patriarchy, racism, and other forms of discrimination, a world where people re-learn how to live in harmony with nature.

At CODEPINK we will continue to denounce the wrongs that tear at the fabric of humanity, but we will also help weave a new tapestry that allows us live at peace with each other and the earth.

We have a profound belief that another world is possible.

And on a quiet day, we can hear her breathing.

Image courtesy of CODEPINK.

Building a Local Peace Economy

By Judy Wicks

When attending meetings with peace and justice activists, I often find myself the only business person in the room. Inevitably, someone makes a comment about the evils of business, or greedy capitalists, or some other negative comment that implies business people are the enemy.

I couldn’t agree more about the harm done by profit-driven multinational corporations, but what about businesspeople like me who are working to build a new economy, one that is more just and sustainable?

Because they view all business in a negative light, many activists don’t seem to think it matters where they spend their money. This experience showed me the wide gap that exists between the peace and justice movement and the local economy movement. Just think how much more powerful we would be in changing the world for the better if we worked together to build a peace economy.

Our Economic Choices Have Consequences

Most economic transactions we make in our daily lives ultimately contribute toward building a peace economy or a war economy, a world of compassion and well being, or a world of indifference and violence. Have you ever imagined that we consumers have such power? Likely not.

Materialism teaches us simply to spend without thinking. But there are consequences to our everyday economic decisions that cumulatively build an economic system that has tremendous impact on other people, and our entire planet.

Materialism and militarism are closely related. Along with racism they form the giant triple evils that Dr. King called upon us to defeat. Each of the three leads us toward cruelty and war, and each depends on a complacent citizenry. By becoming informed about the impact of our decisions and learning to use our economic power mindfully we have the ability to co-create an economy that works for all and bring into being the world we want to live in—one that is healthy, just and peaceful.

Protecting Corporate Interests

Since the rise of colonialism, the global economy has been built on exploitation of indigenous populations and their natural resources, and continues today under the guise of economic development. Profit-driven transnational corporations with a grow-or-die mandate have an ever-expanding need for more and more natural resources, cheap labor and new markets in which to sell their products. As nation-states have done throughout history, the U.S. government deploys our military, or its surrogates, to ensure access for U.S. corporations, whether it’s oil in the Middle East, cheap labor in Central America or new markets in Asia.

“The hidden hand of the market will never work without a hidden fist,” quipped Thomas Friedman. “McDonald’s cannot flourish without McDonnell Douglas, the builder of the F-15."

Not only do they use the fist of the military to protect their interests, these powerful corporations also wield alarming control over most important aspects of our daily lives: the food we eat, the clothes we wear, the news we hear, and even the government we rely on to protect the interests of its citizens.

Where does corporate power come from? We consumers hand it over when we purchase their products, deposit our money in their banks and invest in them through the stock market. It would be one thing if these corporations had our best interests in mind, but they too often make decisions to increase short-term profits, with little regard for the long-term impact on people and planet.

Numbed by pervasive advertising that equates happiness with consumption, citizens are often oblivious to the harm being done by our corporate-controlled global economic system. Meanwhile, we are losing our freedom to corporate control, creating the conditions for continuous war and the destruction of the natural systems that support life on Earth.

Another Economy Is Possible

There is an alternative to corporate domination and the violence and ruin it brings. By building a new global economy in which every community has food and water security and locally produced renewable energy, we can create the foundation for world peace. The British economist and author of Small Is Beautiful, E. F. Schumacher, puts it simply: “People who live in highly self-sufficient local communities are less likely to get involved in large-scale violence than people whose existence depends on world-wide systems of trade.”

Don’t be overwhelmed by the enormity of rebuilding our global economy. Begin at home in your own community. Working together, local entrepreneurs, conscientious consumers and local governments can build regional economies that produce food, clothing, building materials, renewable energy and other supplies locally, using fair and sustainable practices.

Decreasing our dependency on corporations increases opportunities for local ownership and meaningful job creation. Locally owned businesses hire local workers and purchase their supplies and services from other local businesses to produce the products needed by their communities.

Excess production can be exported to other communities and products not available locally can be imported through fair trade relationships that provide a living wage in the communities where the products originated.

We can develop products unique to our region for exchange in the global marketplace, be it a fashion design, fine wine or cheese, works of art and music, or an entrepreneurial innovation. In this way, we can connect to other local economies through win-win economic exchange, and gradually build a new global economy; one that is a network of sustainable and just local economies.

The Localism Movement

Over the past 15 years, the modern-day local economy movement has grown and strengthened. It is supported by nationwide organizations, but primarily catalyzed by countless local efforts dedicated to building regional food systems and supporting local manufacturers and retailers.

Maybe there is an effort underway in your own community that you could help support. “Think Local First” campaigns encourage citizens to buy first from local businesses, which keeps money circulating within local economies rather than be siphoned off by a corporation, which is what happens when you shop at chain stores. Shopping local is even more impactful when local retailers sell products that are grown or manufactured locally.

Consumers can become producers by leaving corporate jobs and starting businesses needed by our communities and by making products to sell or use at home in the growing do-it-yourself and makers movements. Decentralizing business ownership moves economic power from distant boardrooms to our own communities, increasing community wealth and strengthening our democracy.

Climate change adds urgency to the need for a local economy movement. Environmentally sustainable local production of our basic needs reduces the amount of carbon from shipping that is contributing to climate change. It also prepares our communities for the consequences of climate disruption, so that we are not reliant on supply chains that can be affected by extreme weather, social instability, rising fuel costs, and fluctuating prices in the global marketplace.

The localism movement is not only a peace movement, it is also a pro-democracy movement. Though U.S. citizens fear centralized state control, we often neglect to see that centralized corporate power is the other side of the same coin. Today, the collusion of corporate and state power threatens our democracy. Lobbying and unbridled campaign finance by corporations and the very wealthy has resulted in policies that support corporate control. Getting money out of politics is crucial to saving our democracy.

Ultimately, the localist movement seeks to build a global system of human-scale, interconnected local economies that support just and democratic societies and meet the basic needs of all the world’s people while protecting and restoring the local ecosystems on which our lives depend.

The Role of Fair Trade

When goods are not available locally, such as coffee, tea, spices, sugar, or bananas, fair trade importers offer local retailers the opportunity to stock their shelves with products that are certified fair trade to insure that workers make a living wage in the communities where products originate. Some of the most egregious violations of workers’ rights, including modern-day slavery and child labor, take place in developing countries where U.S. corporations seek low-cost production of food and textiles. The chocolate industry, for instance, is notorious for using slaves to grow cocoa beans in Africa.

Local Energy Security

Oil is the life-blood of corporate globalization. It is important for both environmental reasons and equality to wean ourselves off using fossil fuels to power our homes and vehicles, and to build energy security based on locally produced renewables such as solar and wind. Reputable scientists now all agree that burning fossil fuels, mainly coal, oil and natural gas, is the root cause of climate change.

Sources for oil and gas are no longer easily accessible. More drastic and dangerous methods of extraction are being used such as deep-sea oil drilling and fracking for natural gas. Increasing numbers of oil spills are devastating coastal populations from the tropics to the arctic, killing untold numbers of birds, fish and other sea life and disrupting natural systems.

Fracking for natural gas has poisoned local aquifers in mostly poor, rural communities and disrupted life with loud equipment and heavy trucks on country roads. To protect the most vulnerable and to keep the planet viable for future generations, we must all work to break our addiction to oil and gas and move to a low-carbon lifestyle. In most states, there is the option to switch electric providers to buy from renewable sources such as wind, solar, hydro and biomass, rather than coal, gas, oil and nuclear. No matter how the electricity is generated, the electrons are mixed together in the grid and delivered through the wires of the local electric utility company, so no rewiring is needed.

Another option is rooftop solar installations. These supply renewable electricity directly to a household rather than through the grid. There are programs available in many communities to partially or fully fund the installation of solar panels through grants or loans. Solar installations pay for themselves over time. After paying off loans for the installation, households can actually make money by selling excess solar-produced electricity to the grid to be used elsewhere.

Phasing out natural gas and oil and relying totally on sustainably produced electricity to heat, cool and run our households and vehicles is the path to a planet-saving lifestyle. Additionally, when we stop buying oil, gas and coal, we are shifting economic power from concentrated wealth to broadly distributed wealth and power. “Green power to the people” has two meanings!

The first step toward energy savings is to make sure our homes are well insulated and that doors and windows are not drafty. Having an energy audit is a good first step. In many communities, there are services for low-income communities to provide assistance in weatherizing homes and increasing energy efficiency.

Slowing down and changing our means of transportation is another important way to gain energy security and address climate change. Using public transportation, biking, walking or driving an electric car run on renewably generated electricity, as well as limiting or ending air travel, are important ways to eliminate carbons.

As Pope Francis points out, climate change is most harmful to the world’s poor and disproportionately to people of color. Many populations which rely directly on farming and fishing are seeing their livelihoods be disrupted by droughts, storms and new climate-induced infestations of destructive insects and disease.

The disaster in New Orleans in the wake of Hurricane Katrina is a good example. Without the resources to move from areas of rising sea levels and flooding rivers and rebuild after increasingly extreme and destructive weather patterns, the world’s poor are bearing the brunt of catastrophic climate change.

Local Food Security

Across the globe, farmland is being confiscated from indigenous farmers by corporations who impose an industrial system of monocrops, chemical fertilizers, toxic pesticides and hideously cruel animal factories that destroy rural communities, degrade the soil, and pollute the air and water. Food bred for long shelf life on these industrial farms is less flavorful and nutritious than locally and sustainably raised fruits and vegetables grown for immediate consumption. Meat and poultry from animal factories contain unhealthy drugs and hormones and come from animals who endure unspeakable deprivation and pain.

Developing a sustainable regional food system is vital to taking economic control of our daily lives. The local food movement is gaining strength in the effort to decentralize our food system so that small, diversified farmers, who are proper stewards of the land and farm animals, feed their local communities. A growing number of communities now have access to local farm markets and stores that offer fruits, vegetables, and humanely produced meat, dairy and eggs from local farms.

The consumer’s role is crucial in this effort to build regional food security. Rather than buying food from chain stores and restaurants, it is important to spend our dollars at farmers’ markets and locally owned stores and restaurants supplied by local farms whenever possible so that the local farms and food enterprises can increase their capacity.

In many communities, CSAs—Community Supported Agriculture—are available. These are programs where households invest in farms in the springtime and receive a box of fruit and vegetable every week during the growing season. Food cooperatives owned by consumers provide lower-cost groceries and usually include local produce and fair trade products.

Consumers are also becoming food producers. In urban areas, food is grown in containers and raised beds, on rooftops and in community gardens where land is shared among multiple households. In the suburbs, lawns are being transformed into gardens.

Economically viable urban farms use raised-beds and hydroponics on once vacant land—often brownfields contaminated by former industry—to feed a neighborhood and supply local restaurants and stores. This also provides job opportunities to inner city residents. Consumers are becoming entrepreneurs, starting small food enterprises that turn local produce into pickles, sauces, soups, jams and jellies, canned fruits and vegetables, energy bars, and many other products that can be consumed year-round. Milk from local grassfed cows, sheep and goats is being used to make cheese, yogurt and ice cream.

Local Water Security

Struggles over control of clean water are increasing across the globe. Because of pollution and misuse, as well as increasing droughts, clean water is becoming scarce in many places and is expected to someday be more valuable than oil. In many communities there are battles over who controls the water: a corporation or the public. Of course, when corporations gain control, the cost of water to citizens goes up to increase corporate profits rather than sustain a public utility.

In some communities, aquifers that supply local drinking water are being drained by bottled water and soda companies or by corporations to irrigate mega-farms or cool nuclear reactors. In the U.S., tap water is regulated and inspected by local government, while bottled water is not. Studies have found tap water to contain fewer contaminants than bottled water.

Citizens can help by joining local fights to preserve public ownership of water. But on a daily basis we can all make a difference by using tap water in reusable bottles rather than buying bottled water or sodas. Bottled water and soda not only increase the waste of plastic and aluminum containers and burn carbons by shipping liquids long distances, but they also increase corporate control of water.

The soda industry is immensely profitable to corporations while providing an unhealthy and in some cases addictive product to consumers, adding to the epidemics of obesity, diabetes and heart disease.

Sustainable Clothing

The fashion industry is one of the world’s worst polluters due to the use of toxic dyes and fabrics produced with extensive use of pesticides. The industry is also known for sweatshops and egregious labor practices. Shopping at locally owned boutiques that carry locally made and sustainable clothing is ideal. For communities that don’t have such boutiques there are some responsible manufacturers who sell fair trade, sustainably produced fashion nationwide.

Clothing swaps and shopping at thrift stores for pre-owned clothing is not only less expensive but better for the environment. Wearing homemade and thrift shop clothing is a fashion statement admired among localists and environmentalists. Americans recycle only 15% of our used clothing and toss 10.5 million tons into the landfill, yet we continue to buy more and more clothing. Let’s start by buying less and save our money to buy locally and sustainably made.

Banking and Investing

When we invest in local businesses, we get not only a financial return, but also a living return: the benefit of living in a more sustainable and healthy community. When we invest in the stock market, we are perpetuating a system driven by profit that is increasing inequality and environmental destruction.

Publicly traded mega banks have enormous power, draining capital from local communities that could be invested locally. Banking through local banks and credit unions strengthens local borrowing power and keeps banking profits local. Some communities have community reinvestment funds that provide a vehicle for local investment in small businesses, affordable housing, wind turbines and other community needs.

In recent years, crowdsourcing through online vehicles such as Kiva Zip have allowed for investments as small as $5 to support small local businesses. A growing number of local investment clubs have provided a vehicle for community members to invest collectively in local businesses through loans or capital investments with risk shared by the group.

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

Consumerism encourages us to buy things we don’t need. One of the first steps in living sustainably is to buy less. Think twice before making a purchase to determine if it is necessary.

The next most important step is to reuse products multiple times. For instance, wood harvested from demolition sites can be reused in new construction and renovations. Similarly, textiles can be reused to make new clothing, slipcovers or curtains.

When we must throw something away, it’s important to recycle as much as possible. Most communities have programs to recycle paper, aluminum, plastic, and even electronics. It’s important to sort these materials carefully and put them out for pick up.

Composting fruit and vegetable food waste is an important part of the food cycle, which returns nutrients to the soil. Putting food waste into plastic trash bags destined for the landfill is a waste of this valuable resource. Many communities have compost pickup and it is also possible to do one’s own composting for use in home gardens.

A Revolution of Values

In 1967, when Dr. King expressed concern about the triple evils of materialism, militarism and racism, he suggested that we need a “revolution of values” to defeat them.

In our society, we continue to measure success in both business and in our individual careers largely by money and accumulation of material possessions. To build a peace economy, we must change our measurement of success to value life above money. Localists measure success not by continual material growth, but by the growth of healthy communities and ecosystems.

When we make economic decisions, rather than focusing on getting the cheapest price when we buy, the highest price when we sell, or the largest return on our investments, we must ask ourselves how those decisions will ultimately effect what we care about most—our communities, our natural world, our democracy, our children’s future.

In the business world, measuring success not simply by profits, but by the impact a business has on the lives of people and nature is often referred to as the triple bottom line of people, planet and profit. Rather than maximizing profits, triple-bottom-line businesses maximize relationships with all the stakeholders – employees, customers, suppliers, community members and the natural world.

Localism is moving our economy from a competitive mindset to a cooperative one, from measuring success by how much we have to how much we share, and from a feeling of loneliness and despair to the joy of community. Ultimately, we are moving from “me to we” by embracing a worldview of interconnection and love rather than one of separation and fear.

Co-ops

An important vehicle for cooperation and sharing are cooperatively owned businesses, which include worker cooperatives that are often manufacturing businesses, consumer cooperatives typical of food co-ops, and producer cooperatives such as farmer or artisan cooperatives.

Land ownership is a crucial issue in building a new economy and cooperatively owned land or community land trusts provide a means for people to own farms or housing when they cannot afford the cost of land. Some cities are forming land banks to provide land for small businesses and affordable housing. Also rural and suburban areas are offering land preserved for open space to young farmers who cannot afford the high cost of buying farmland.

Natural resources such as clean air and water are part of the commons that we must protect by enforcing existing environmental laws too often disregarded by powerful corporations. The cultural commons includes publicly owned art and cultural sights that are part of our common heritage and must also be protected from profiteering.

Adopting Gandhi’s Strategy

The strategy Gandhi used in his nonviolent revolution to overthrow British tyranny is a good one for overthrowing corporate tyranny in today’s world. The conditions are similar. When India was colonized by the British, all the fields were planted with cash crops for export. As a result, the Indian people lost their food security and millions starved to death.

Gandhi told the people of India to plant community gardens so that villages could feed themselves. He also suggested they spin their own textiles. Rather than ship the Indian-grown flax and cotton off to London to be made into clothing and then shipped back for the Indian people to buy, they could make their own clothing within their local economy.

While the British believed in centralized, industrialized and mechanized modes of production. Gandhi envisioned a decentralized, homegrown, handcrafted mode of production. In his words, “Not mass production, but production by the masses.” He said mass production is only concerned with the product, whereas production by the masses is concerned with the product, the producers and the process.

Gandhi’s vision for a decentralized, small-scale economic structure in India comprised of interconnected self-reliant villages governed by participatory democracy is one we can work toward today. In this sense, Gandhi is the grandfather of the modern-day localist movement.

Gandhi knew that with the globalization of the economy, countries would go to war to protect their economic interests—military war as well as economic war. He said we cannot have real peace in the world if we look at each other’s countries as sources for raw materials or as markets for finished industrial goods. "There is enough for everybody’s need, but not enough for anybody’s greed," said Gandhi.

Where do we begin?

Like the Montgomery Bus Boycott and Gandhi’s salt march, social change begins with non-cooperation with the existing system. Once you make the choice to stop cooperating with the system you find immoral, you can begin to build an alternative.

Everyone of us can start with something we care most about – refusing to eat meat produced in factory farms, refusing to buy clothes made in sweatshops, refusing to buy chocolate that uses slave labor, refusing to buy dirty energy. Once we make a commitment to stop cooperating with a system we oppose, we can begin to build a new one that expresses the values we care most about.

When we decentralize our economy, beginning with our food and energy systems, we decentralize ownership, wealth and power. Decentralization creates more owners. The more owners the more equality.

By working collaboratively, the peace and justice movement and the local business movement can build a new economy that serves all of us, while protecting our natural environment. Cooperation, generosity, and compassion for one another, as well as for other species, will assure our survival in a world at peace.

Image courtesy of CODEPINK.

Daily Practice: Inspirations for Building Local Peace Economy

By Jodie Evans

The following is a collection of daily inspirations for building a Local Peace Economy written by Jodie Evans, CODEPINK co-founder. You can read her past inspirations here.

Daily Practice: Looking for how to grow your local peace economy?  Look to where inequality is most desperately felt in your community. Is it homelessness, militarization of schools, police violence, criminalization and incarceration of communities of color and immigrants, privatization of health care and education, pollution, exploitative labor, and joblessness, racism, homophobia, transphobia or somewhere else? The needs are growing as the war economy ravages our communities. What can you do to create freedom for ALL in your community today?

Utopia

"Utopia is on the horizon. You walk two steps away and the horizon runs ten steps further. So, for what does Utopia work? For that, for us to walk.” — Eduardo Galeano

Daily Practice: We're writing from Festival of Utopia, a gathering of 15,000 from around the world creating peace economies. A common theme is the presence of the structures that they need to break from and the need to invent and imagine what is possible. This weekend, witness the structures that hold oppression, destruction and violence in your community; how can you break free and create conditions conducive to life?

Lady Buggs

"Do what you LOVE!” — Lady Buggs

Daily Practice: Be inspired by Lady Buggs. She lost the two jobs that were supporting her in Florida and moved back to the family house in Youngstown Ohio and has created the yummiest local peace economy. Her generosity has created generosity from the community back. She is teaching what she loves. She is feeding her community. Growing vegetables in what was an empty lot. Making value in what had been devalued. What are you doing to grow your local peace economy? How is your garden growing? Who are you sharing it with?

Disarm Hate

"Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that!” — Martin Luther King, Jr.

Daily Practice: At CODEPINK our goal is to be disarming. As peace activists, our days are full of grief and rage at the violence unleashed on innocent people globally. But we know our work is to disarm, which is often done with humor. After 14 years it is still a daily practice. It is a muscle we all need to build. Watch what you can do today to disarm hate; watch how often you encounter it. This is one of the most important tools in growing our local peace economy.

A Message from Grace Lee Boggs

"We have to see every crisis as both a danger and an opportunity. It’s a danger because it does so much damage to our lives, to our institutions, to all that we have expected. But it’s also an opportunity for us to become creative; to become the new kind of people that are needed at such a huge period of transition. That’s why it’s so wonderful to be here today—that we dare to talk about revolution in such fundamental terms.” — Grace Lee Boggs

Daily Practice: We have the opportunity to challenge the current extractive war economy and create a new peaceful regenerative one. We can build a new society out of human values. Gather your community to imagine together.

Meditation

"What you encounter, recognize or discover depends on a large degree on the quality of your approach. Many of the ancient cultures practiced careful rituals of approach. An encounter of depth and spirit was preceded by careful preparation. When we approach with reverence, great things decide to approach us. Our real life comes to the surface and its light awakens the concealed beauty in things. When we walk the earth with reverence, beauty will decide to trust us. The rushed heart and arrogant mind lack the gentleness and patience to enter that embrace.” — John O'Donohue

Daily Practice:  As you begin this week; make time to set your desires for divesting from the war economy of exploitation, extraction and scarcity and shifting your energies to growing your local peace economy.  Take time to slow down and really feel and see how you can engage more with your community.  Write down the steps to make it happen.  Put it on your calendar.  Take the time so the beauty will embrace you.

Nourish Life

"Living organisms have learned to self-organize as bioregional communities that create and maintain the conditions essential to a living Earth community. We humans must take the step to maturity as we learn to live as responsible members of that community." — David Korten

Daily Practice: What are you doing locally to create conditions conducive to life? Today, watch your actions; which ones are nourishing life? Yours, your communities, the earth? Make the practice of nourishing life a habit.

Be Openhearted

"To love. To be loved. To never forget your own insignificance. To never get used to the unspeakable violence and the vulgar disparity of life  around you. To seek joy in the saddest places. To pursue beauty to its lair. To never simplify what is complicated or complicate what is simple. To respect strength, never power. Above all, to watch. To try and understand. To never look away. And never, never to forget.” ― Arundhati Roy

Daily Practice: Start this week with an open-hearted connection to your community, place, and local peace economy. Where can you offer yourself to growing beauty and connection?

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