Last week, NPQ ran a focused series of articles on how nonprofits can take the lead in rebuilding a more equitable and sustainable economy. The series was built on decades of work in the field, as it has been based in the larger context of an extractive corporate economy, but it’s meant to help advance and spread the sense of an aspirational future—one built on reduction of the wealth gap and the economic disparities structured around racial differences, one that aspires to a more collective ownership and control of our common resources.
This series, we believe, is timely. In fact, just yesterday, Federal Reserve Chair Jerome H. Powell “expressed concern” in testimony to the US Senate Banking Committee that the share of the national income going to American labor had fallen “precipitously” for more than a decade and was not reversing course. Clearly, there is a need to explore new approaches!
Look for additional work on this issue from us as we, in a seven-part series of webinars beginning this fall, delve into the methods being used to advance this agenda in communities all around the country. But also look for our next “Accelerator” series next week—straight from the pages of the summer 2018 edition of our print magazine!
Tomorrow, too, series curator and NPQ senior editor Steve Dubb will discuss the series further on WOL Radio’s Everything Co-op series. Steve’s interview will broadcast tomorrow, Thursday, July 19th, at 10:30 a.m. Eastern Time. A livestream connection is available here.
Series intro article
“We are suffering not from the rheumatics of old age, but…from the painfulness of readjustment between one economic period and another.”
As this quote from John Maynard Keynes reminds us, this is not the first time the economy has faced upheaval. Keynes wrote at the beginning of the Great Depression, following the rise of record-setting economic inequality—records that in the US would hold for more than 80 years, until our time.
On the role of nonprofits
What is the role of civil society—the people who our sector represents, independent of our legal form—in a world where the economic ground beneath us is shifting rapidly? In our sector, nonprofits typically act to mend problems. The basic assumption behind this is that the system, despite major problems here and there, is more or less functional, and our role is to come up with clever solutions—be good social entrepreneurs, if you will—to plug the holes and fill in the gaps. But as the system itself falters, today our sector and civil society must take on a new responsibility in shaping what is to come.
On reclaiming the commons
No one likes hearing this, but nonprofits have to stop thinking of themselves as some adjunct to the market.…Nonprofits are a better model for doing business than for-profit companies.
On Black liberation and the struggle for equity
Instead of being seen as a market for larger forces to dump cheap goods into, how do we start seeing ourselves as an answer to our problems? How do we create structures where we are cooperating with each other to meet our own needs?
On reframing social enterprise
The affirmative critique—which positions the current phenomenon of social entrepreneurship and enterprise as “inadequate yet necessary”—challenges those involved to not settle for the status quo but rather to push the field’s frontiers to achieve the full potential of social enterprise and address any needed corrections along the way.