"Building a Healthy Economy from the Bottom Up"

Oct 20, 2016

Even though productivity of American workers has been on the rise for decades, it’s no secret to most  that wages have not. A new book suggests this is because our economy is upside down and that now is the ideal time for a change.   Robbie Harris spoke with the author and she has this report.  

Anthony Flaccavento, commercial organic farmer, consultant, author

Anthony Flaccavento wrote this book for the same reasons he ran for Congress in 2012. An organic farmer based in Abingdon, Virginia, he’s a sustainability consultant who has worked around the country and the world. He says political leaders are missing the fact that a thirty year effort toward local innovation and economic independence for individuals has quietly been taking root all over.

“There’s things emerging in big cities, medium sized towns and rural areas all around the country that are basically building economies that are more just, that work better for ordinary people, that create local wealth and that respect the environment but it’s just not adding up quickly enough to have real impact on the economy and it’s certainly not having impact on our public discourse which is pretty horrific as we all know.”

Flaccavento says the current election season has highlighted public discontent and anxiety about a lack of control over one’s own economic future.  His question is, will it spark change or despair.

“ We’ve seen it manifest as rage and racism and all kinds of dreadful stuff but we’ve also seen it manifest as people who simply aren’t going to put up with the status quo anymore and want real change”

In his book, he sites dozens of examples of local projects like farmers markets, buying clubs, broadband and renewable energy cooperatives, new agricultural movements and more, but he says the big box big business economy is blocking their light.   

“Essentially what I’m arguing for is national policy and to some degree international policy that facilitates healthy sustainable local and regional communities and economies.  So part of it is removing the barriers that make that very difficult, but I think part of it too is regional and national networks of learning of very rapid exchange of ideas, which some people call ‘best practices,’ and national networks that advocate for these improved policies.

Flaccavento has been a leader in sowing the seeds of this new economy, and now that they’re sprouting he says the time is right for fundamental change

“So for years folks like me when we would talk about the need for an alternative people would say there is none, tell me what the alt is, we didn’t have a whole lot to offer, but now we have real stuff, very diverse and very adapted to different places. So the combination of the general discontent of our neighbors, the citizenry, with this body of dynamic, exciting and sort of living economy, I think, if we merge those two, we may actually be able to shake things up.”

Anthony Flaccavento was the democratic nominee to represent the 9th congressional district in southwest Virginia in 2012.  He’s considering giving it one more shot in 2018. His new book is called Building a Healthy Economy from the Bottom up; Harnessing Real World Experience for Transformative Change; It’s published by University Press of Kentucky

Author, Anthony Flaccavento will talk about his book Monday October 24th  at the Alexander Black House Cultural Center in Blacksburg, at 7:00pm.   He'll be in Floyd at the EcoVillage for a book signing Tuesday October 25th at 5:30 pm.