Deep Economy, by Bill McKibbon

Thinking about the effects of global warming, the loss of open land to suburban McMansions, and the widening gap between rich and poor can be depressing. However, this series of essays is curiously hopeful. As always, McKibbon has the numbers to back up his descriptions of the challenges we face, but here he gives us possible solutions, things you and I can do.

He uses the term “deep economy” to echo the term “deep ecology” which urged a more cohesive look at environmental issues. Instead of just enacting some new law to limit emissions, “deep ecology” looked at the way we live our lives and what choices we can make that will cause more fundamental changes and improvements. Similarly, McKibbon urges us to think beyond the usual statistics economists love—GNP, growth, stock markets—and instead look at measures of human satisfaction.

Like most people, I feel overwhelmed and powerless when I try to think about the problems mentioned above. Therefore, I was thrilled by McKibbon's vivid descriptions of solutions—small-scale, to be sure, but solutions nonetheless. And when he starts talking about communities—building them, strengthening them, looking to them for answers—well, he is singing my song. Moving toward a more local economy just makes sense for everyone: business owners, workers and consumers.

The chapter that may be most familiar to people is on eating food grown locally. Where I live, we are lucky to have several farmers' markets and, during the season, many independent roadside truck stands. I have been going to one farmers' market for over twenty years. Many of the vendors are the same. It's been a joy to me to watch my fruit guy's children grow up and my vegetable lady's business expand. The flower lady, who loved my dog, grieved with me when the dog succumbed to old age. Writing in this blog about A Brief History of the Dead I said that if I were ever to win an award, the first people I would want to thank would be all the folks who enrich my life and make it possible by fixing my car, making pizza, etc.

These, too, are people who are part of my community and decades of interaction, of watching their children grow up, have made them precious to me, as precious as my friends and dancing partners, my poetry chums and book club pals. At this time of year, we look to our families but also take time to socialise. I just want to take this moment to celebrate all the people in my life. Thank you. Read this book.

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