Friday, June 11, 2010

New Economics Institute Founding Meeting

On June 5th the New Economics Institute held its founding meeting. Guests
helped imagine the future of the Institute -- its vision, its programs, the
urgency of its realization. Members of the board of directors outlined
future projects:

1. Launching a new economic model of an economy that works and thrives
despite dwindling resources (Gus Speth).
2. Developing the Happy Planet Index as a better measure of success (Stewart
3. Developing new economic teaching materials that break the stranglehold of
the old economics (Neva Goodwin).
4. Using Vermont as a model for rebuilding our economies, one neighborhood
at a time (Will Raap).
5. Modeling new ownership options that change the meaning of work and the
role of the worker (Gar Alperovitz).
6. Bringing the case for a new economics into mainstream thinking and
action. (David Boyle).

Shifting mainstream economics is a huge task. It will take significant
resources to accomplish. We need your support financially
( and we need your help telling
the story of a new economics, raising awareness, and activating a movement
of change.

Opening remarks from the founding meeting are excerpted below.

Yours truly,
Susan Witt, Stefan Apse, and Kate Poole
Staff of New Economics Institute
formerly the E. F. Schumacher Society
140 Jug End Road
Great Barrington, MA USA

Board of Directors: Gar Alperovitz, Jessica Brackman, Eric Harris-Braun,
John Fullerton, Neva Goodwin, Hildegarde Hannum, Dan Levinson, Richard
Norgaard, David Orr, Constance Packard, Will Raap, Gus Speth, Peter Victor,
and Stewart Wallis.
Advisory Board: Peter Barnes, Merrian Fuller, Bill McKibben, Otto Scharmer,
Doug Tompkins, and Robert Wade.

* * * * * * * * *
New Economics Institute
Founding Meeting

In his theory of art the painter Wassily Kandinsky stated that every great
work of art must have three elements: something that arises out of the
artist¹s personal circumstances and his or her character; something
representative of the spirit of the time and place, reflecting the struggles
of a people in an era; and something universal that will speak to what lies
common in all humankind throughout the ages.

I'd say that every great organization must have the same three
elements--something that evolves out of its particular circumstances and the
people involved in it; a mission that addresses the most critical problems
of the times; yet all the while staying true to the universal values that
inspire and direct us all.

We are gathered today as the E. F. Schumacher Society transitions to a new
form as the New Economics Institute. It is an appropriate evolution for the
Society that for thirty years has stewarded in a small way a large mission
and intellectual heritage. Our websites last year totaled seven million
hits. Our local economic programs have gained wide media attention. The
broadly circulated Schumacher lectures collectively tell a story of a new
approach to economics. Yet we are too small to take advantage of the
opportunity this attention offers. Thus, the board of directors has entered
an agreement to partner with the New Economics Foundation
(, one of Europe¹s most effective economic think tanks,
to bring the power and depth of its programs to the United States. The
evolution of the organization is possible only because of the mature stage
of its development and because of the experience and vision of its
remarkable board of directors.

This transition comes at a most critical time in our economic history, a
time of disillusionment and failure of existing systems. It has always
seemed to me that the destiny of America is in the economic sphere as its
designer and driver. As a people we are comfortable in this sphere of
producing and trading and buying. It is our element. And it is our destiny
to shape our economics either for greatness or for limited ends. History
will judge us on how we do it. The New Economics Institute emerges at this
particular time in our history to help shape and lead the implementation of
a new economics so urgently needed.

Though the medium of this new Institute is economics, its work is informed
more broadly. It was Martin Buber, the great Hasidic writer, who described
the task of human beings on earth as nothing less than striving to raise the
sleeping spirit from stone to plant, from plant to animal, from animal to
speaking being. He would have our every action permeated by this intent.

What is economics at its core but a system for organizing human labor to
transform the earth into products for one another? The outcome of that
transformation can either degrade or enhance all involved; the nature of our
economic institutions determines which it will be. If we accept Martin
Buber's admonition, then it is our responsibility‹our spiritual task, if you
will‹to create an economic system that embodies our highest ideals as human
beings, one that builds community, advances ecological health, creates
beauty, provides sustainability, and encourages mutuality.

This is the task that the New Economics Institute is setting itself. This is
the work we are asking you to join us in undertaking.

Susan Witt
Interim Executive Director
New Economics Institute

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