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
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.
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.
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
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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