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J. K. Gibson-Graham, Jenny Cameron, and Stephen Healy

With the Ethical Interconnection Checklist provided by the authors, one can consider how others are affected through encounters to meet our needs.


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The first association most people have when it comes to property is private ownership and the laws connected to it, giving us the right to use and control what we own. It gives us a sense of security, but it also excludes others.

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That which belongs to everyone, the commons, is not being formally owned, and therefore often lacks formal rules of use and governance. Our water, sunlight, atmosphere, and shared intellectual property, for example, are essential to us all but can easily be exploited and abused. In order to take back property, to better care for our commons, we need to reconsider our relationships to the things and resources around us and what private property means to us. The authors describe the commons as a key concern of a community economy, meeting the traction current commons debates and initiatives around the world are gaining.

Commons experts such as Silke Helfrich usually stress that commons are a process rather than a resource: water becomes a commons only through the practice of commoning, by establishing rules around its shared use, maintenance, and care All forms of property can be potential commons.

Financial institutions are usually a way to manage and increase monetary wealth. The authors invite the reader to look at investment from a different point of view: investing in our future to ensure the survival of following generations, not as an end in itself.

Take Back the Economy: An Ethical Guide for Transforming Our Communities

Combining monetary investment with all the other kinds of non-monetary investments such as time, energy, and imagination, can help build more secure futures with social and individual benefits. Again, the authors look at the economy as a community garden, and what investing in the maintenance of the nutrients taken out of the soil and in the relationships between the people who take care of the garden means and produces in terms of returns. To make sure that investments made are actually building better futures, it is necessary to regularly draw a balance on what impacts they have.


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  • In the global financial system, it seems impossible to retrace what invested money has produced, and the demand for more transparency and more ethical investment possibilities has increased in the past years. A new tool has been developed to calculate the social return on investment SROI 24 , which has been widely discussed as reducing all benefit to monetary values — so, the authors propose a version of the ROI, the Community Economy Return on Investment CEROI , where investments and returns are not necessarily measured in monetary terms, expanding our idea of finance towards social and environmental ends.

    Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, p.

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    New York: Gallup Press. London: New Economics Foundation. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, pp. London: New Economic Foundation. Why now?

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    The authors identify the following shared concerns, to which people try to respond with their efforts: — What do we really need? Indeed, that sort of analysis can be disempowering. Not surprisingly, people may feel overwhelmed when told that a root-and-branch transformation of an entire economic system is a prerequisite for human progress, although a minority is reliably excited by the magnitude of the challenge. For many people radicalism is more likely to grow out of their lived experience in their own communities.

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    Simultaneously though, there is a recurrent need for need for broader understandings that provide guidance and linkages for people engaged in locally-based activities. In this book Kathy Gibson links up with two other geographers to point some ways forward in dealing with these possibilities for developing progressive and activist politics. The book echoes the familiar theme of 'think global, act local', especially in the opening chapter where the authors posit the need for 'thinking big', 'thinking ethically' and 'thinking small'.

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