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RobinThe economy isn't a living entity

Robin Faye lives in the Wolseley neighbourhood of Winnipeg. She contributes to her local economy by buying local (mostly organic) foods and other products, sending her children to the local schools, living in a local co-op, and taking care of her neighbours through her own business, Dragonfly Scent-Free Body Work and Massage Therapy.
In 1978 Robin was chemically-injured working as a silk screen printer in a sign shop. She has been living with the challenging, often invisible and sometimes disabling symptoms of multiple chemical sensitivities for the last eighteen years.
The annual mosquito fogging in her municipality poses a serious challenge to her health and her business. Each year, she takes her family and her work out of town to avoid exposure to the neurotoxin, Malathion.
Robin enjoys attending outdoor peace and environment demonstrations where she is able to socialize, network, teach her children about politics and justice, and peacefully declare her opposition to policies that support domination over people and the planet.

Robin says:

Robin's storeWhen I was 25, I had a job as a writer/researcher in a tiny Northwestern Ontario community. The people who lived there took me around to various places in their environment and explained their problems with the government’s land use plan. I had grown up in Toronto, and I didn't understand how money would be tied to the environment at all until I worked on this project. Then suddenly the light went on! I learned that wealth is extracted from nature, and the benefits that I enjoy living in a materialistic society are actually stolen from the people who lived here before me and they're stolen from the people who will live here after me. It took a long time for all this to sink in and take form in my life.

I believe that all living things on the planet have a right to share the benefits of what is naturally here. A few people have decided to kill other people, snatch up the stuff and then divide it out to us little by little if we're “good” and do it the way they want us to. Well, that's a bad plan!

When I think about the economy, I start with the premise that all living things on it and all non-living things have a right to be there. If we're going to use some of it we should form consensus about how to use it for the benefit and sustenance of all, and in balance with everything in nature.

Robin doing massageWhen I hear people talking about society, the environment, and the economy as if they are separate entities in competition that we need to integrate, I say, “Wait a minute!” Society is actually part of the environment and the economy is one tool that we can use to interact with each other. The economy isn't a living entity on its own. It’s a tool available for us to use, and it is up to us as a society to figure out how to shape that tool so that we can use it to meet our collective needs. In a truly democratic system, society’s intentions direct its economy.

When I was 18 and living in downtown Toronto I grew a garden. I had a friend who baked bread and I traded her a head of cauliflower for a loaf. On the way over on the streetcar, I was holding the cauliflower thinking, "Am I doing something illegal?"

Throughout my life I've traded whenever I could, shared, given things away, whatever. I volunteer too, and I consider that as part of an alternative economy. The voluntary sector recognizes jobs that are extremely important, even if they are disregarded by current power structures.

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