As part of continuing our collective sojourn into popular economics, a few of us at Catalyst have committed to reading Take Back the Economy together. We also have agreed how important it is to invite you to discuss with us this book and related concepts, along with ideas that arise from reading. Here are a few brief thoughts I have about the introduction and Chapter 1 to begin the conversation.
I found this book is welcoming and perhaps even inviting. I am not going to be shy about the fact that sometimes money (and therefore talk of finances and economies) scare the bejeepers out of me. Money is not a topic about which I excitedly pick up a book to peruse. I procrastinated reading our assigned chapter until yesterday morning. As I was reading it, I was in conversation with myself – that IS how I have always thought about that; what a delightful way to explain that; or I can imagine using this paragraph to open up conversation with others. I am sure that by the end of this process I will be more confident in my knowledge of popular economics. I will be able to more succinctly talk about popular economics and I can see how I will even be tempted and actually move onto reading more intense (dense) books on the topics. Something I would not have said two days ago.
Part of that comes from how easily the ideas and concepts in this book are transferable into activities for community and organizations. For example, I was reading about how we have been told that small actions cannot change a whole economy so why bother (page xxiii). The authors explain how a small piece of metal, called a trim tab, redirects the motions of huge ships. It is just not true that we can predict that small changes will not redirect whole economies. I can see using this example as a topic for brainstorming within communities, organizations or teams that might be stuck – what small actions could you take that might help to redirect this issue? This is just a small example of how this book appears to be filled with opportunities to engage each other in dialogue.
As I was reading, I was thinking of all kinds of local examples that I could use to reinforce the concepts shared in the book. During the authors introduction they describe economy as a community garden. Immediately my mind was filled with stories. I think of Ursula Franklin talking about community development work not being glamourous and referring to herself as an earthworm wriggling through the earth to bring in water and air. She said we don’t do our work because we are guaranteed that things will grow. We do it because we are guaranteed without it that nothing will grow. The same applies to the economy. The way this book is written, and perhaps the way my mind strives for interconnectedness, coaxes examples out of my personal and work experience that can further animate some of these concepts.
Taking big concepts and rooting them in concrete examples makes participation in dialogue more accessible. So far, the authors have done a great job with this. I invite you to grab a copy and join us in the read.