As the economic turndown worsens daily, business as usual is not a viable option. Rather than attempting to fix a broken system based on greed and excess, it’s time to create a new, sustainable system that works for everyone and is earth-friendly.
A cashless economy in which buyers and sellers together determine the value of the products and services exchanged will make a comeback. The new system will be based on relationships and shared values so that the planet and its interdependent inhabitants may survive. Brokers of barter services will do well in the new economy, as they connect and expand markets for their customers.
Local currencies, already in use, could replace a collapsed U.S. and global currency. A step beyond the barter system, local bucks create a recognized medium of exchange.
As big businesses depart from communities that can’t sustain their bottom lines, people will support their local merchants through the downturn so that essential goods and services will continue. Shedding the unnecessary is a part of the new, sustainable lifestyle.
Creativity will be valued in the new economy, with thousands of micro-businesses forming as inspiration and an entrepreneurial spirit join to offer value for a minimal investment of capital. Local lenders will step forward to support such cost-effective endeavors, just as they have in third-world countries like Bangladesh.
Having lost confidence in big banking, community associations are forming to offer loans to their neighbors with reasonable terms that benefit everyone. Other communal efforts to ensure mutual survival and access to the means to own a home and make a living are likely to emerge in the next few years. Grassroots economies will flourish, and businesses will do well by treating their customers as friends.
Community enterprises will be the hallmark of the new economy. Co-housing and community gardens are making a comeback, as generations move in together and neighbors create common areas. The concept of each household owning its own lawnmower will seem archaic, as tools are shared to save valuable resources.
Public transportation will improve in response to demand, and neighbors will carpool for shopping, work, and school. Group home schooling will thrive, as public systems collapse under the weight of crumbling facilities and budgets. In general, people will stay closer to home and adopt simpler lifestyles offering less stressful, more enjoyable lives.
As the world is transformed by crisis, a consciousness shift will cause people to recognize their interdependence and pull together to create new ways not only to survive but thrive in a new economy and a new era of sustainable living.
Dr. Laura Dunham is the author of Spiritual Wisdom for a Planet in Peril: Preparing for 2012 and Beyond (www.spiritualwisdom2012.com).