View this email in your browser

    All Needs Matter: The Story of Self-Sufficiency
    Resource Democracy: Self-Reliance through Self-Governance
    Sustainable Economies: Purchasing Capacity for Meeting Human Needs



One of the world's great paradoxes is that our economies can only grow by getting people to consume beyond their real needs. Here's the problem: by stimulating the economic demand of our expanding population, we overuse the planet’s fixed amount of non-renewable resources without adequately replenishing Earth's renewable resources. Then we rationalize these disparities through free-market ideology. We say that "since humans are an intelligent species with vast scientific insight and technical skills, we would never harm civilization by creating perilous imbalances within society or nature. This is why we use a market economy because it is self-adjusting and avoids any misallocation of resources". Yet these 'intelligent algorithms' that propel our economic systems are not naturally correcting, as evidenced by widespread poverty and ecological degradation.

While biology shows that no population can live beyond its ecosystem, society ignores this natural law. Through free trade, our national economies buy, borrow and steal from other life-support systems, which means we are all drawing from the greater life-support system of Earth. Capitalism was not designed to value resources at their future worth. Instead, it measures resources by their extraction, production and labor costs and the price at which their products sell in the market -- all based on supplying today's demand.

Today, the fundamental algorithms of modern economics, use value and exchange value, are driven more by what people want than what they need. This has created a growing deficit in our preparedness, integration and resilience as a society, which impedes our allocation of resources to those in need while destroying our environment. Nonetheless, these algorithms are essential in expressing the dynamic forces of freedom and equality in human society. Use value generates our engagement with others through the practical utilization of resources, and exchange value generates trust among people in the marketplace. What is vitally missing is the interdependent practice of social cooperation by every individual and the culture of mutual caring and solidarity that this generates.
We also recognize the critical importance of education and technology in supporting cooperative culture. Yet this is not enough to transform the modern economy. Industrial civilization may have learned to increase economic efficiency by lowering the inputs of production and slowing the rate at which we use resources to produce each unit of what we want. But as long as human consumption continues to generate poverty, waste and debt, today's market-driven systems of education and technology will not change human behavior or drive evolutionary change. In the decades ahead, societies must learn to practice ways of life that are more in harmony with nature and can provide our sustenance through technologies that are designed for the rational and sustainable use of resources.

What will solve this baffling equation is a new software of the mind. We need a code that shifts human understanding of ourselves, our behavior and our evolutionary role as a 'dominant species' to that of a 'participant species' in a complex ecosystem. We need to tell the story of where we come from, our purpose for being here and how we shall survive and thrive in this fragile environment. Without this new history of who we are, civilization will slowly collapse. Indeed, we are now in a period of decline, which is why we need a  narrative about the self-sufficient use of the resources common to all people. This story is just as vital for the nourishment of the human race as our air, water, food and energy.

Sustainability involves more than our current availability or access to resources. Given our growing economic and ecological deficits, humanity must look far ahead to how people’s future needs will be met. We have barely recognized that our shared commons cannot belong to one generation more than another, or how the mounting costs of our damage to Earth will be paid by those who were not responsible for this destruction. In this conclusion to Principles of Local Economic Democracy, we learn that the first five stages of sustainable economies will be aligned only when people become self-sufficient.
The world is self-ordering through natural evolution, which means that people co-evolve with nature. Unlike the self-regulating cycles in the human body and the natural world, however, the economic formula of supply and demand is mistaken for a self-evolving principle. Little wonder the world seems so disjointed. Our 'self-organizing' free market is a crude approximation of a dynamically balanced ecosystem because supply does not account for the planetary limits of non-renewable resources and demand does not represent real human needs. The old story, ‘supply creates its own demand’, which favors the market value of resources over the basic needs of our population, has driven humanity to deplete Earth's natural resources and generate massive social and ecological debt. Our next story, ‘need measured is need met’, must focus on how effectively the resources available within an ecosystem are distributed to those who need them, creating resource self-reliance (or self-sufficiency) within every eco-region on the planet.

Because human beings co-evolve with the natural world, our communities must be self-governing. Self-governance applies at all levels of human life, from family, neighborhood and community to district, nation and planet. We are focusing on a unit of self-reliance which underlies and links all of these: the bioregion, where natural regeneration and restoration occur. This requires a belief system that is based on the necessity of sustaining life on the planet. Within every bioregional unit, this new socio-economic, ecological and cultural planning must be based on carrying capacity and distributed value. (Carrying capacity is the potential level of resources which an ecology can sustain to meet the needs of its population. Distributed value is the actual percentage of the population in a region whose needs are effectively met by the goods produced and distributed there.)

Democracy is the only form of government that can create ecological sustainability because it is based on a succession of power across generations of elected leaders, making political cooperation sustainable through agreement. In modern democracies, however, a top-down system of authority has resisted human co-evolution with nature and ignored the possibilities of self-sufficiency through social cooperation. This is why we must work with elected officials who control our access and use of resources. If we don't do this, these politicians will continue to expand the market consumption and waste of necessities like food, water and energy. We must show our leaders why it is not necessary to exploit the natural resources of others outside our region when we can sustain our population through community management of the resources in the place where we live.
In this era of climate emergency, pandemic and recession, self-governance means prioritizing human life and well-being through agreements to conserve our non-renewable resources and generate more renewable resources. This is why representative democracy is not enough: participatory democracy is also part of our social responsibility. We must influence our elected representatives to shift decision-making power from corporate managers and shareholders to community stakeholders, including workers, customers, suppliers, neighbors and the public. Local groups must take an active role in decisions to pool their resources through a mutual system of public services, modeling the planning and policies of their political districts after the ecosystems in which they are situated.

This decentralized approach requires a collective change of heart and mind. It also requires a structural change in the financial value that is added at each stage of our economic process through the extraction, production, distribution, consumption, waste and recycling of our resources. By taxing the value that we take from an ecosystem — rather than the value added — society will create a self-ordering, self-reliant economy through its own self-governance. How? First, our common resources must be owned and managed by community or regional trusts that are directly accountable to the public. Second, political decisions on the sustainability and provisioning of each resource will be made by these trusts, which have the authority to lease some of the rights for these commons to small businesses. Third, each business profits from the production of the resource and pays a tax to government, which is recirculated to citizens as credits, dividends or subsistence income. Finally, the trust spends its leasing income on the maintenance of sustainable commons and the replenishment of depleted commons.

Changing our economies from value-added to value-replenished will generate self-sufficiency for the people in every bioregion. Each ecodistrict will take a constant inventory of its resources and production and match these assets with the distribution required to meet the basic needs of its population. Yet this strategic cooperation for self-sufficiency becomes sustainable only when this practice extends across time and into the future. Thus, the goal of democratic self-governance for our commons is to meet the needs of all people in the present while making Earth habitable for future generations. A plan for self-sufficiency today is the next step in honoring the rights of citizens tomorrow.
Sustainable economics is the most advanced stage of human society because it brings all the earlier stages together into a systemic, evolutionary unity. Sustainability presupposes that human beings are balancing freedom and equality through cooperation and that these fundamental forces are supported by cultural development. It assumes that we have been educated with knowledge, expertise and solutions involving our common resources and are applying technology to meet everyone’s needs. A sustainable economy also requires the development of resource self-sufficiency for its population through self-governance. But sustainable economics is more than the sum of these cardinal principles.

By embracing the idea that value flows from prices in the marketplace, we have forgotten that value arises simply through our minds. In fact, this was the historical meaning of use value — how human beings evaluate the materials that sustain us, regardless of their cost. But use value led to exchange value, and this led to a system in which the economic power of the State allocated resources through its sovereign authority. Then capitalism captured this power and privatized the State’s system of finance and debt. Now, under the yoke of institutions and rules that favor individual over collective value, consumers are rapidly depleting Earth’s resources and making little effort to sustain their lives.

We can develop a sustainable economy by realizing that money possesses no real energy. Since money has no power in itself, it might as easily become a public resource for a socially just and ecologically sustainable economy. Imagine, if government debt were eliminated and money were revalued through the democratically-determined objectives of equality and sustainability, there would be no need for banks. Interest and debt would end. Stock and financial speculation would also come to a halt. Yet none of this would eliminate the principles of use value and exchange value — it would align them with the cooperative distribution of the resources necessary for people living today. And in meeting the needs of everyone in the present, we lay the foundations for a sustainable future.
How could society organize itself in the same way as the natural world? This is more than just connecting resources with the people who need them today. It also means ensuring the evolution of human beings by giving everyone access to the wealth that is needed to sustain life for succeeding generations. This is why purchasing capacity — the amount of goods and services that we can purchase with a unit of currency — is needed to ensure the long-term vitality of human beings. Purchasing capacity not only affords us with fair wages or social credits to obtain essential products that meet our needs and spur our personal creativity and growth. By measuring the value of maintaining human life from generation to generation, purchasing capacity will steer all societies toward sustainability.

The free market struggles to find a balance between supply and demand through the prices that are charged for products and services in the present time; it does not even try to predict the conditions of supply and demand that may affect people in the distant future. Yet an accurate measure of purchasing capacity is not possible without democratic self-governance to ensure the long-term equilibrium between available resources and social well-being in both the present and the future. When democratic communities decide to protect a percentage of their non-renewable resources as reserves, they will ensure an adequate supply of these resources to address the needs of future generations. In turn, these reserve assets will become the basis for a self-adjusting standard of value and a means of calculating purchasing capacity value in the present, indicating how wealth may be optimally distributed in society, both now and progressively into the future.

By guaranteeing the rate at which the value of our income is adjusted to meet our basic needs, in line with the replenishment of our resources, we integrate the fulfillment of everyone’s needs now with the ecological conservation and regeneration necessary to meet these needs centuries from now. This is the culmination of our principles of local economic democracy. Purchasing capacity is the beating heart of economics, leveraging the evolutionary forces that converge between the individual self and the collective whole of society and nature across time. By balancing the material supply and demand of people today with the material supply and demand of people in future years, purchasing capacity value will enable all societies to plan ahead for the sustenance of the human species.

EDA has two positions open to our members for application: Director of Communications and Director of Development. Details of these jobs are posted on EDA's Active Members site in Loomo.

These are appointed positions. To apply for one of these openings, please send a brief letter of interest and a resume or CV to James at

Cooperation takes place when individuals work together as a group. Please join us.

EDA is excited to announce Tracy Edmonds as our new Director of Information Technology.

No one is more qualified for this position than Tracy. In 1988, he earned a BSEE in Electrical and Computing Engineering from University of South Carolina. From 1994-2005 he worked at Oracle Corporation, Dolphin Interconnect Solutions, Troika Networks and Topspin Communications. For the past fifteen years, Tracy has worked at Cisco Systems, where he is now Director of Software Engineering.

EDA has worked closely with Tracy for the past three-and-a-half years in several capacities and we are now making this a formal relationship. He has been helping to redevelop EDA's membership database and to build our new website-in-progress. We couldn't be happier that Tracy is sharing his vast expertise with EDA. Welcome, Tracy!
The EDA Board of Trustees is delighted to announce the appointments of Chloe and Deirdre Brown as Co-Chairs of the Education Team.

Chloe is presently an undergraduate at Virginia Commonwealth University, majoring in Psychology and minoring in Religious Studies. She intends to pursue an MA in Art Therapy and Counseling to help young refugees with PTSD. Chloe has trained in advocacy work with the Friends Committee on National Legislation and has significant experience in community service and fundraising.

Deirdre, Chloe's mom, completed her BS and Residency Program in 2019 at Bon Secours, St Mary's Hospital Memorial College of Nursing in Richmond, Virginia. Deirdre is presently working on an MS in Nursing at George Washington University. She is skilled in managing behavioral health in acute and non-acute environments.

We are so pleased that this spirited and seasoned team will be hosting educational seminars, organizing Education Team meetings and supporting the EDA planning team. Welcome to EDA, Chloe and Dee Dee!

Our Election Board is holding elections for Treasurer, August 3 - 9. Information about the candidates, their backgrounds and experience with EDA, is available under RATIFICATIONS 2020/August on our Active Members page in Loomio. Procedures for voting will also be available soon. The results of the election will be announced on August 10.

Ratifications for the Advocacy Team Chair and the Education Team Co-Chairs will be held August 24 - 30. For the first time, these ratification will take place in the polling section of EDA's Loomio site. Background information -- including Jacelyn Eckman's job performance as Advocacy Team Chair and Choe and Deirdre Brown's resumes for Education Team Co-Chairs -- can be found on the EDA Active Members section in Loomio. Instructions about the ratification process will be available in mid-August.

Reminder: an election involves voting a candidate into an EDA administrative position. A ratification involves confirming an appointee as a Chair in the EDA Action Council (Research, Education and Advocacy) or confirming a proposal from the Board of Trustees as formal EDA policy.
To maintain your voting/ratification privilege, you must have taken part in one of the last two consecutive elections and/or ratifications and your EDA membership should be current. Our process as a democratic cooperative cannot work optimally unless everyone engages in the process. This is why all Active Members are asked to vote in elections and take part in ratifications. Participation in group decision-making is the core of democracy.


The EDA Cooperative Charter was drafted between June 2017 and June 2018 with input from sixty-five people. Our Drafting Team sought to create a balance between the individual selves and the collective whole of the organization. As the Charter's Preface states: We recognize that social enterprises can become top-heavy for the sake of efficiency, or bottom-heavy in the interest of fairness. To develop a working balance between our leadership and members, we think this must include top-down and bottom-up checks and balances, with built-in incentives for both. Below are some of the ways we have tried to establish this important equilibrium between the individual and collective rights and responsibilities of our Governing Circle, its staff and administrators.

  • The EDA Board of Trustees is a union of two different groups: the Executive Committee, which oversees the collective legal, financial and administrative functions of EDA; and the At-Large Trustees, who represent the individual interests of the Governing Circle of Active Members.   
  • The Managing Director maintains the collective business of the organization through the Action Council and Operations Department, while the Board of Trustees focuses largely on the procedures for individual EDA members, such as non-profit responsibilities, policies, memberships, elections and ratifications.
  • The Action Council creates EDA's collective programs in research, education and advocacy, while Operations is focused on the individual tasks necessary to support these programs.
  • In the collective interest of the organization for holding free and fair elections, the Board of Trustees appoints an Election Board to ensure the individual rights of EDA members to run for office, vote for candidates and ratify policies and appointments.
  • EDA's elections require a quorum of 60% of the collective Governing Circle to vote, and through this voting 50% + 1 of our individual members decide the election or ratification.
  • The Board of Trustees has the right to propose individual appointees and individual policies to the Governing Circle for their confirmation, while the Governing Circle has the right to initiate a collective referendum for a new policy to the Board of Trustees for its approval.
  • The Mediation Body represents the individual rights of members of the Governing Circle which may be unrepresented or overlooked in the collective policies, procedures or management of the organization.

These are a few examples of how we use systemic checks and balances in our work. As the document concludes: The Cooperative Charter of Economic Democracy Advocates is our foundation for agreement, based in free, equal and cooperative human relationships and balanced between personal and collective needs. Through this practice of organizational equilibrium, EDA hopes to bring our cooperative spirit into the world.

Our Fourth Annual Conference, From Crisis to Cooperation, will be held on Saturday, November 7. Please join us for this four-hour conference, which will include presentations from EDA's Research, Education and Advocacy teams, our President and Managing Director and notable guest speakers.

What is behind this theme of 'crisis and cooperation'?

Each one of us can probably define crisis better than we can cooperation. This is because our society is prone to creating crises while discouraging the cooperation to prevent them. We seem to provide mutual aid only after a major crisis has taken place. Nor do we have many rules or institutional frameworks for cooperation because volunteering for group work is simply not a valued part of our society. EDA's conference will examine these problems and how to develop strategies and policies for reversing them.

We are looking for volunteers to help produce this program. This includes everything from advertising and registration to Zoom facilitation. We would also like to know if you have creative ideas for presentations.

If you are interested in joining our conference planning team, please contact Managing Director James Quilligan at
EDA Managing Director James Quilligan will make a keynote presentation at the 7th International r3.0 Conference on September 8. His theme is carrying capacity and distributed value and their role in creating economic democracy. This will be James' third talk to this distinguished group of planners and activists, which is being held online for the first time this year. On September 11, he will also serve as a Provocateur for a Breakout Session of this virtual gathering, entitled Shifting to Economies as Ecosystems.

What the 1% Don't Want You to Know
Economist Paul Krugman explains how the United States is becoming an oligarchy -- the very system our founders revolted against.

Efficiency Vs. Resilience
Today's multi-faceted crises are pulling back the curtain on unfettered capitalism, revealing that we are all interconnected.

Organizing Complexity: The Path to Ownership Through Worker Cooperatives
If you’re new to the concept of worker cooperatives, this article might surprise you. It explores the problems with the modern workplace, the nature of cooperatives, their benefits, how they work and why we don’t see more of them in society at present.

Recipe for Action
Listen to experts Danielle Nierenberg (President of Food Tank), Saru Jayaraman (President of One Fair Wage) and Melissa Desa (Director of Working Food) explain the failures of our global food system. Hear why the largest segment of working America has been left without food and economic safety nets. Learn inspiring ideas for improving food security in our own communities.

ReConnect with EDA

10-Week Seminar
Civics of Resource Democracy

August 7 - October 9
Fridays, 4:00 PM PDT/ 5:00 PM MDT/ 7:00 PM EDT (US & Canada)

Continuing our Friday tradition of gathering, Active Members and non-members are invited to meet for the educational seminar, Civics of Resource Democracy.

Each week, Chloe Brown, Dee Dee Brown, Roar Bjonnes and James Quilligan will present a new topic on our daily responsibilities for making economic democracy work. This will include group discussion. Each subject builds on the previous one, so we encourage you to attend them all.

These free weekly presentations are a great way to further your understanding of economic democracy and provide a place for you to ask questions and share ideas. Meetings are open to the public. Friends and family are welcome, too!

Minimal background reading is required for each session. Please do the reading. Each week's homework will be posted on ReConnect with EDA (in Active Members on Loomio) on the Saturday before each seminar, beginning Aug 1. You also can post comments or questions on this page.

Zoom call information is available there and also below:

Right now our attention is captured by the Corona epidemic, the economic slow-down, the racial inequalities that plague our country. We have a lot on our plates, but we also need to keep our attention on the long-term and present problems of climate change and economic inequality. We need systematic change and EDA addresses ways to proceed in pragmatic and break-through ways. I'm learning so much from EDA seminars!

Lorraine Wilson Niles
Occupational Therapist OTR
Pleasanton, CA

I like EDA because of their emphasis on community and what a community is capable of achieving when they come together. EDA emphasizes redistributing power locally to give communities agency to be a part of the decision-making processes that affect them directly. Not only that, EDA also gives individuals the tools they need to be active participants in these processes.

Taryn Wolfsohn
BS in Foreign Service
Georgetown University

We deeply appreciate your donations, especially those of you who help us on a monthly basis. Now we have a specific ASK which is urgent.

EDA and EDA Foundation need your financial support to build a new website.

Our goal is to raise $10,000 for this project. Will you help us, please?

You know us. We have come a very long way together. Now we have outgrown our website at a time when we must progress rapidly. We must launch a new website in November for the education of the public and our members.

EDA's supporters and friends know how important this work is. We've put together an expert team to create a new public face for EDA. And we can't wait to share it with you!

But we need your financial support to finish this exciting project. Can you donate at this time?

All contributions for the new website are tax-deductible. Please send your donation to EDA Foundation.





Copyright © 2017 Economic Democracy Advocates, All rights reserved.

Our mailing address is:
Economic Democracy Advocates
106 Gallows Hill Road
Cranford, New Jersey 07016-1837, USA

Want to change how you receive these emails?
You can update your preferences or unsubscribe from this list

This email was sent to <<Email Address>>
why did I get this?    unsubscribe from this list    update subscription preferences
Economic Democracy Advocates · 106 Gallows Hill Road · Cranford, NJ 07016-1837 · USA

Email Marketing Powered by Mailchimp