Local visionary Frank Joyce has penned an insightful new piece on AlterNet summarizing the concept of "new work" and challenging the limits of the current mainstream economic debate. He also does a nice job describing some innovative local Detroit projects and people who are leading the way toward rethinking our city's challenges and opportunities. It's long, but well worth your time:
The stark reality is that the problems are structural and cumulative. The old job system isn’t coming back to Detroit. Ever. The stark reality is that Detroit is not some one-off fluke. Detroit is just the canary in the coal mine. Virtually every dynamic that was in play in Detroit over the last several decades is now at work planet wide. Paralyzed “leadership”; persistent racism; and growing inequalities of wealth, income and power and shrinking democracy aren’t just features of Detroit. They apply to the nation and many other places throughout the world.
Help from the system that is failing is definitely not on the way. All the superficial debates about high taxes or low taxes, individual mandates or no individual mandates, big government or small government, contraception or no contraception will not put Humpty Dumpty together again.
For many this is understandably both depressing and disorienting. But for others it is liberating. “Solutionaries” are creating a different kind of economy. There may be no jobs, but there's plenty of work to be done. Victimology is not welcome here.
Since a Reimagining Work conference held in Detroit last fall, new economy energy and enthusiasm have intensified. There are growing efforts in food production and distribution, education, media, supporting the formerly incarcerated, transportation, community policing and manufacturing.
Longtime new work and new culture advocate and philosopher Frithjof Bergman is bringing new manufacturing and new construction technologies developed in Europe, India and Africa to the attention of Detroit’s new economy pioneers. Julia Putnam, an alumnus of the pioneering Bogg’s Center Detroit Summer Project, which started in 1992, is leading a Boggs Center school in a former Detroit public school building. The Urban Network founded by Yusef Shakur, a former felon, does groundbreaking work reintegrating former prisoners into the community and to supporting the children of those still incarcerated. A growing network of meetings, conferences and Web sites allows Detroit’s many projects and initiatives to cross-fertilize.