Today at the Community Matters '10 conference in Denver I will be moderating one of the 10:30 AM breakout sessions, In Local Economies We Trust. This session is going to rock, so if you are at the conference be sure and check it out. If you are not in Denver, I'm going to try and record the audio so I can use it in a future podcast.
The reason this session is going to rock is because we have three amazing panelists. They all have expertise in the art of building Strong Towns; places that have local resilience.
- Bill Midcap, Director of Renewable Energy Development at the Rocky Mountain Farmers Union in Denver. You can read his bio on the session site.
- Bruce Smith, Director of the Farm to Table Project in Glendive, MT. You can read his bio on the session site.
- Christian Gibbons, Director of Business/Industry Affairs in Littleton, Colorado. His bio is now also available on the session site.
This session is really important and timely too. I've put a lot of effort in researching the work of these three experts. I have put together a series of questions and discussion topics that I am hopeful will get deep into their work and make it relevant for practitioners and policy-makers looking for a different -- and workable -- approach.
Building local resilience is the key for us to emerge from this economic downtown stronger than we entered it. Our economy, in its current form, is not built on a series of redundancies in the way that a complex natural system is. Instead, the American economy is largely a product of efficiencies of scale, efficiencies made possible by cheap petroleum, prior infrastructure investments, government regulation and incentives and a strong dollar.
We are only now beginning to understand how these large, efficient systems are brittle by nature; how fragilities in areas we are not even aware of today can threaten supplies, prices and market stability.
In contrast, a collection of strong, local economies is resilient by nature. If one fails, it does not take the entire system down with it. And while something may be lost in efficiency, we can see from the diversity produced by natural systems that real innovation comes from having thousands of local experiments going on across the landscape, all connected and learning from each other's successes and failures.
Our homogeneous, monolithic approach to building communities is ending. For America to see renewed prosperity, we need to learn to trust -- embrace -- local economies for the creative force they can be. Come to the 10:30 session, In Local Economies We Trust, and hear some ideas for growing your community into a Strong Town.
And for those of you at the conference that may be interested in learning more about Strong Towns and strategies for building local resiliency, I've been asked to host one of the "Dinner with the Doctor" sessions Thursday evening. If you don't have dinner plans, please consider coming and hanging out with us for some good food and conversation. The signup sheet is in the hallway next to the petitions.