Last Saturday was a historical moment for the US. In Oakland, CA we held the first Festival of Grassroots Economics. The first in the country and one of the first in the world (mainly behind Brazil) to demonstrate that a positive alternative exists to capitalism, corporatization and centralized economic corruption. We wanted to show and strengthen the already existing alternative grassroots economy here in the Bay Area. I believe we are on the cutting edge of a movement that will inevitably change the world more than we had ever hoped maybe even just 5 years ago.
It was just a handful of us from worker cooperatives and from activist backgrounds that planned this for a year with no funding. None of us came from any position of authority or power in a nonprofit or government or big business. All of us are pretty low on the pay scale. To be more specific- a retired printer, a car washer, an unemployed person, a caterer, and a food co-op worker-owner. So I suppose it should be no surprise that those who where interested enough to come reflected that demography as well.
I was so happy to see the chairs all filled, people on the edge of their seats, great diversity especially in terms of race, and lots of regular folks. This is what it was supposed to be about- the grassroots economy from the bottom up. But I have to say I am shocked by the lack of presence and interest by nonprofit leaders, intellectuals, the media and government officials. Things would be much easier and faster if they'd throw their weight behind this, but they weren't in charge and maybe they are not used to being led by the people and to listening for a change instead of thinking of themselves as leaders who already have the right ideas.
They are behind the curve. We are moving forward. I hope they catch up soon. We need all hands on deck and time is ticking. But I suppose this is the way it needs to be - untainted, uncoopted people power. Maybe we need to be stronger and have more formed ideas and proposals. Though the concept of a grassroots economy appears to be very intuitively inspiring to most people I talked to and the people who showed up seemed very moved.
I guess we always knew the people would have to lead the revolution, in fact, that's perhaps the only kind of revolution worth having.