I have the good fortune of participating in a Highlander workshop series called “Mapping Our Future: Economics and Governance.” (If you have never heard of the Highlander Center, a social justice non-profit organization, then I encourage you to check out their website.)
In this workshop series, we are learning about a solidarity economy which is defined as:
A global movement to build a world that puts people and planet front and center, rather than the pursuit of infinite growth and profit maximization. (Highlander slide #11, Beautiful Solutions Presentation)
Please take a moment and let those words sink in: a world that puts people and planet front and center. Can you imagine how different our world would be if this intention guided our communities?
Values such as equity or equal access would be priority. Emphasis would be placed on cooperation and collaboration opposed to competition. Everyone’s voice would be valued and heard. Decisions would be made based on sustainability, repair, and reparation rather than on exploitation and greed. Diverse solutions would be seen as necessary instead of divisive.
There are pockets of solidarity economies around the world: examples of communities who focus on solutions which are beautiful and kind. Non-profit organizations and co-ops which revitalize land to grow food, or remodel abandoned buildings for community use, or implement restorative justice practices, or fundraise loans to start small businesses.
These beautiful solutions require individuals with similar values to commit to working together through good times and bad. In other words, when there is a challenge, people learn how to build consensus, to navigate conflict, and to share vulnerably.
As you may imagine, there is a parallel process occurring. As one works toward creating a world which puts people and planet front and center, one also works on an individual level putting solidarity economic values into practice.
For example, if you want an economic system which prioritizes people, then you have to be clear on how privileges afforded to only a few creates a lopsided system in which only a small percentage of people benefit (1%). A solidarity economy challenges us to listen more openly, to share more equitability, and to make amends more readily.
One of the ways I am raising my awareness is to notice when I disagree and then to be quiet. This practice is very challenging for me. I am used to debating and to defending my opinion. Instead I am listening and occasionally asking “tell me more.”
As a result of my commitment, I have learned more about the criminal justice system, systemic racism, and classist economic practices. I also have discovered I feel more confident when I do choose to voice my opinion, because I am clear my opinion is aligned with my values.
If you would like to learn more about solidarity economic practices and values, then please send me an email. I am working with a local team to put into practice what we are learning, and we would welcome more people.
I also am looking for examples of beautiful solutions in our community. The Little Free Pantry in front of Shakti in the Mountains is one example of a solidarity economic practice. If you know of any, then please consider taking a picture of the beautiful solution and sending me a short description. We are putting together a collage of beautiful solutions in our region and would like to find as many examples as we can.
Wishing everyone a beautiful week!
Kim Bushore-Maki is a soul-driven entrepreneur who understands the undeniable urge to create a business and a life filled with meaning and purpose. Her vision of opening a center where women could heal and grow led her to open Shakti in the Mountains in Johnson City, Tennessee: a place where the creative, feminine energy is nurtured and valued.
Five years later, Kim is still in the flow of supporting and building a healthy, vibrant community and now guides retreats, teaches yoga, and provides one-on-one services for women who want an immersion experience into the life-affirming, Shakti energy.
Kim’s training as a therapist and yoga teacher allows her to safely and compassionately guide women on a heart-centered journey to Self, where women re-connect with their beautiful, authentic spirit.