Actions and Detail Panel
The Commonwealth Reading Group
Thu, April 6, 2017, 6:00 PM – 8:00 PM MST
As noted in the SAWS mission statement, the general premise of our project is that “stronger, healthier communities result when people come together—actually convene—in a spirit of purpose toward diversity, resiliency, and durability.” As the new year opens, we plan to support our objectives by hosting reading/discussion groups. The first one will center on the nature of economy, the social and economic histories that have fixed our received wisdom on economic systems (and what the consequences have been), and finally, the economic alternatives that may be open to Baja Arizona if we wish to move into the future in a more self-sufficient, constructive, resilient way. Now, in a context of shifting climate and deepening social inequities, “resiliency” is a concept on the rise in current discussions about environment and human wellbeing. Since sustainability has by and large failed, we now have to develop resiliency. But if we wish resiliency to avoid becoming the sort of buzzword that sustainability became, we need to decide what the concept would actually refer to and prescribe for us. And then we need sooner than later to put the prescriptions into practice.
So, in this case, we will want the reading group to take a praxis approach: we will use reading material to understand important theories and concepts, to analyze systems and processes, to think with; but then we will also want the material and our discussions about it to inspire us to do—to try to put promising alternatives to work in the community.
From start to finish, we want these groups to be group efforts. We invite your suggestion as to themes and readings. However, because we need to begin with some familiarity with Economics—as a discipline, as a set of rubrics to understand the world, and as a field in which we can entertain alternatives—we will begin with Herman Daly and John Cobb’s For the Common Good. If you don’t mind ordering from Amazon (which will prove to be ironic here), the book is available used for $.01. If you plan to participate and want to access the book this way, please order it now, because we will start Thursday, March 2, at 6 p.m., and we will ask you to have Part 1 of the book read by then.
Subsequent readings that come to mind include:
Klein, This Changes Everything
de Buys, A Great Aridness
Schumacher, Small is Beautiful and Good Work (sections)
Berry, countless possibilities, but “The Total Economy” and “Think Little” certainly
Kropotkin, The Conquest of Bread and Mutual Aid
Bollier, Think Like a Commoner
Harvey, Spaces of Hope (sections)
In 2017 we face a pretty bracing set of vulnerabilities, among them our deepening cyberdependency with its implications for security and its hidden costs, climate change and its accompanying uncertainties, and the incoming Trump administration with its known prejudices and the vast unknowns regarding critical areas of policy. Let’s use the reading/discussion groups to form collective responses rooted where we live. Certainly we need to protest against, but we also need to organize for.
We start Thursday, March 2, at 6 p.m., and will meet biweekly thereafter.