A New Indigenous Economy: But — Is it feasible?


O
n Monday, guest author Allan Schnaiberg returned to OurValues.org and made a stimulating argument: Obama’s Recovery Act is not just about economics, he said. “It’s also an act to recover our values, our insights, and our good sense.”
    Discussions of values can get lost in the clouds. Jim Robbins is a down-to-earth role model of community values and local production that Allan told us about yesterday. Jim is president of Robbins Lumber, a Maine-based family business since 1881. Jim’s idea was a response to reports of unsafe toys made in China. He founded Robbins Toy to make safe, fun, educational toys, using local woodworkers and local materials.

    His example made me think: Is a new indigenous economy a positive outcome of our economic crisis? What would it take to make it work?
    Perhaps we can learn from Ten Thousand Villages. (The crazy “3 Friends Pin” is one of the group’s colorful products.) This organization is one of the oldest and largest fair-trade organizations. It was founded 60 years ago by Edna Ruth Byler to enable Third World people to sell their handicrafts and products in the North American market. Today, Ten Thousand Villages has long-term relationships with hundreds of artisan groups in dozens of countries in Africa, Asia, and Latin America. There are over 155 retail stores in the U.S. and Canada. http://www.tenthousandvillages.com/
    Ten Thousands Villages is a noble cause I endorse. I have patronized their retail store in Ann Arbor many times.
    Can this be a role model of the kind of marketing and distribution system we need to make a new indigenous economy work in America?

    What do you think?

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