What is a restorative well-being economy?
A well-being economy is built on the basic goal of all people and places thriving together. It is an economy that is just, regenerative, and multiracial. A well-being economy rebalances power to provide what everyone needs to reach their full potential. It provides opportunity for freedom, voice, power, ownership and a fulfilling life over generations for everyone. By addressing the historical legacies and current systems of racism, colonialism and other inequities, a restorative well-being economy creates the conditions for everyone to thrive together.
How do we make a well-being economy real?
These are the themes that arose at the Well-being In the Nation (WIN) Network Equitable Economies Cooperative meeting in October. Inspired by panelists Randall K. Johnson, (professor of Law, University of Missouri-Kansas City), Jordana Barton-Garcia (senior fellow, Connect Humanity) and Laina Raveendran-Greene (CEO and founder, Angels of Impact) and moderator Bobby Milstein (director of system strategy, ReThink Health), Cooperative members discussed how they work to advance a well-being economy and coalesced around a call to action for others to join us.
Each of us can help advance a well-being economy, if we: coinvest in communities which have experienced harm in a restorative way, knowing that leads to collective abundance; value and inspire people power; and recognize and heal trauma. Working together, we can change flow of funds to increase investment in BIPOC communities and others that have experienced oppression. We can also change how we invest – lifting up community assets, empowering communities to determine measures of success, and tapping into community power and wisdom.
Where do you start?
Broadening access and focus of capital in communities experiencing inequities is a theme running through many of the policies discussed, whether it is broadening access to capital, or broadband, or housing, or education. The key is ensuring that everyone can thrive, because they have access to all the vital conditions necessary to reach their full potential. Participants agreed that solutions must be centered in community, and informed by people with lived experience in our inequitable economy, sitting elbow to elbow with other decision-makers.
How can you focus your efforts?
One tool shared at the meeting is WIN Network’s Advancing Equitable Economies Policy Library which includes more than 150 policies to advance a well-being economy. Numerous policies in this library were touched on during the meeting, including: Community Reinvestment Act expansion, preservation of pensions, broadband access expansion to advance digital inclusion, affordable housing, and investment in BIPOC entrepreneurs. Many of these policies are “multi-solvers”, with benefits across multiple sectors and issues.
What’s the call to action? How do you engage?
The Equitable Economy Cooperative members issued a joint call to: engage all interested parties; change the narrative of what an equitable economy is and how to get there; build relationships and work together to advance policy and systems change.
- Engage all interested parties: As the saying goes, there are “no permanent friends, no permanent enemies, just permanent interests.” To advance the movement, we need all kinds of people and ideas. We need to remind people that, in this work, if you lose, I lose. Building these relationships will require flexibility and outreach to people and organizations that have not been invested in historically. As one example, could we engage a new generation of economists who are prepared to change the metrics we use for measuring the health of our economy?
- Change the narrative: We can move away from the illusion of scarcity and recognize the abundance in communities who experience inequities. We can lift up pathways that indigenous communities and other innovative changemakers have used to build a more equitable economy. We can dispel myths about poor people and address mistrust. This change to a more equitable economy is not so complicated that we have to wait for experts to guide us. If we patiently recognize the generational changes we seek, we can work to change our economy from one that maximizes profits (“an incredible commitment to self-destruction”) to one that advances well-being and equity.
- Advance policy and systems change: Cooperative members focused on how to build civic muscle to advance policy and systems change. By better understanding how the rules work, we can help people challenge those rules and build community power to make the rules more equitable. It’s all about people power.
By Anne Ekedahl, MHA, Senior Fellow, Policy, WE in the World
Published on Community Commons