8 Reasons Why the Local Economy is Important

by Mark Votava



I had an awakening to the importance of the local economy several years ago as I began to see how the abandonment of local ways of life are destroying the world.  My life had become fragmented as I would be racing in all directions throughout the day and never really centering myself on the relational context I lived in.  I bought into consumerism more than simplicity.  My life was losing a sense of peace because I was fueling the system of corporate greed by the simple act of giving my money to what was not in my local economy.

If I do not spend time faithfully present to my environment in everyday life, I will not spend my money locally because I am absent.  Where I am is where I will invest my resources.  This is important if we are to become citizens of our place instead of just tourists passing through without much care, mindfulness or awareness.

Here are 8 reasons why I think the local economy is important.

1. Has a subversive power within

The smallness of a local economy has a subversive power from within.  A local economy is relational.  There is power in caring for others relationally without exploitation.  The global economy knows nothing of this.

2. Creates smallness which is beautiful

The global economy only cares about dollars and profits on a large scale.  There is no smallness to the global economy.  Smallness is despised by the global economy.  But small is beautiful to a local economy.

3. Cares about people as if they mattered

Small is beautiful because it cares about people as if they mattered.  People do matter to the parish imagination of local economy.  People are everything to the parish imagination in everyday life.  People are not to be used, but valued through the virtue of smallness in a local economy.

4. Embodies goodness, trust, mutual aid and hope

A local economy embodies goodness, trust, mutual aid and hope among neighbors.  A local economy is not oppressive and teaches practices of justice, neighborliness and friendship in the parish.  A local economy practices reconciliation and kindness.  A local economy is shaped within by its local participants and not by outside forces of corporate control.

Wendell Berry states, “A good community, as we know, insures itself by trust, by good faith and good will, by mutual help.  A good community, in other words, is a good local economy.  It depends on itself for many of its essential needs and is thus shaped, so to speak, from the inside – unlike most modern populations that depend on distant purchases for almost everything and are thus shaped from the outside by the purposes and the influences of salesman.” 

5. Is independent of corporations

A local economy is independent of corporations.  A local economy depends on itself and is sustainable as it creates a fabric of relational care.  People are more important than goods and services in a local economy.  The parish imagination is not influenced so much outside its context, but is influenced by the local citizens who inhabit its place.

6. Helps citizens participate in shaping their environment

Citizens need to have participation in shaping their environment through the parish imagination of local economy.  The global economy doesn’t lead us on the way to sanity or conviviality.  The packages we constantly receive through the global economy are enslaving us to corporate forces.  When we are enslaved by our packages, global goods and services, we cease to be a people of justice.

7. We become co-creators of the future

We cease to be a people who work for the shaping of the parish we inhabit together for the common good.  We fall away from participating in local economy to become unconscious advocates of the American way.  But the parish imagination is calling us to be co-creators of the future through participating in the local economy as the body of Christ in everyday life.

Ivan Illich writes in his book A History Of Needs, “Industrialized societies can provide… packages for personal consumption for most of their citizens, but this is no proof that these societies are sane or economical, or that they promote life.  The contrary is true.  The more the citizen is trained in the consumption of packaged goods and services, the less effective he seems to become in shaping his environment.  His energies and finances are consumed in procuring ever newer models of his staples, and the environment becomes a by-product of his own consumption habits.” 

8. We become participatory in our local context

We have been trained to receive packages from the global economy without even thinking about it.  This training of consumption is the medium that keeps us from participating in the creation of our local economy.  The corporate forces want to keep us ignorant of how their packages are made and transported.  They want to keep us ignorant of how these global packages are affecting us to become passive instead of participatory in our local context.

The corporations want to numb us to these realities.  If we can stay numb to these questions; we will keep relying on global commodities, having less and less participation in creating and supporting a local economy among us.  All our energy goes into this at the expense of local economy and relational connection.  What a sad tragedy for us all.

Have you become conscious of the importance of the local economy?