Growing a better future...
Money is a measure of relative scarcity. That is not good or bad. It is just what it is.
I am on the the Board of the Mile High Business Alliance. The Alliance is a trade organization for local businesses based on the premise that money circulating locally benefits the whole community compared to money spent into the global economy. The Alliance asks the community to support local business and I have proposed that it is a two way street. Local business can also support the local community by facilitating the implementation of Community Sufficiency Technologies.
As a business owner, I know the pressures to maintain your existing connections and build new connections. It requires an intense focus on where the cash is flowing. Business owners have to keep on top of how cash flows in, how it flows out and what, if any, is left over to meet the rest of the owner's obligations. That leaves little time to think about how your flows fit into the larger pattern of flows in your community. Even more, because connections are so fragile in a market economy, a suggestion about changes to the flows often feels like a threat.
There is, however, potential profit in being able to step back and examine the larger pattern. We can find ways to assist others that feed back into the stability of our business. Especially in a recessionary economy, there are segments of the community who have no place in the market. If we can find another way for people to contribute to the community, the entire community benefits, including our business. I call these techniques Community Sufficiency Technologies.
Money is a measure of relative scarcity. That is not good or bad. It is just what it is. Of all the things that we can produce at a given point in time, some of them can flow out through the market because they are relatively scarce to someone else who has the money to pay for them. If we only measure value in money, if we do not see the value in anything that cannot be sold, then all the rest of what we could produce is not produced. All of that potential to produce is wasted.
There are things that we want to be abundant. We want food, clothing, shelter, education and health care to be abundant. Those are the things that are required for humans to thrive. What sense does it make to say that once those things become abundant they have no value . . . because they can no longer be sold . . . because there is no market for them? What sense does it make to say that these things cannot be produced because there is no one with the money to pay for them . . . when there are people who clearly need them?
Imagine a network of gardens and greenhouses that produced enough food for every one in the neighborhood. The neighborhood already has the resources to start building that network. It requires little to no money. Then imagine that anyone in the community could get a share of that food by contributing according to their strengths: fixing cars, reading to kids, cooking, sewing, carpentry, home repair, gardening, making cheese . . . In that way, we begin to utilize the dormant potential to produce that already exists in our neighborhoods.
The local business that helped a neighborhood develop that kind of community sufficiency would build customer loyalty in the same way as a business supporting a youth soccer league. It need not take a lot of money from the business either. Your neighborhood may just need a place to meet, a way to connect with other neighbors, or someone to offer advice on how to do it.
Every dollar the neighborhood saves by producing what they need for themselves, is a dollar potentially spent at your business. It is creating an opportunity to contribute for those who are not now contributing . . . increasing the flows for the whole neighborhood. It is one of the most satisfying marketing approaches you will ever find.