Cover

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Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

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pp. i-vi

Contents

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pp. vii-viii

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Foreword

Bill McKibben

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pp. ix-x

There is more than enough to be depressed about on our planet—if you gave me an hour, I’d still be listing bullet points when the clock ran out. Melting glaciers, acidifying ocean, rising inequality, increasing flow of refugees, declining soils, on and on and on. It’s easy to make the case that we’re doomed. And even easier to make that case if you look at the responses...

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Introduction. Economic Transitions in Surprising Places

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pp. 1-14

When I first met Martin Miles in 1999, he had been raising tobacco for nearly forty years on his small farm in rural Lee County, Virginia. For generations, tobacco had been the reliable cash crop for small mountain farmers, but by then it was in steep decline. Many were thinking of quitting altogether, worn down by the relentless work of farming and discouraged...

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1. What’s Wrong with What We’ve Got?: Rising Tides, Trickle Down, and Other Economic Myths

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pp. 15-44

Every culture, every nation has certain stories that shape the way its people think, both for good and for bad. At the heart of these stories one often finds “myths,” usually broad in scope, sometimes expressed as metaphors. These are myths not because they are completely wrong, but because they form the foundation of our understanding of the world, yet are largely...

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2. Renewing Households and Communities: From Consumptive Dependence to Productive Resilience

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pp. 45-82

Early one December morning in 1993, I sat down with my two kids to talk about Christmas. Josh had just turned eleven, and Maria was four. I was a part-time single parent, that is, I was on my own with my kids half of every week. I had a full-time job, but money was very tight. Our 700-square-foot house was in a neighborhood of equally modest homes, walking distance...

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3. Unleashing Local Living Economies: From Trickle-Down Problems to Bottom-Up Solutions

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pp. 83-128

In September 2002, a group of folks gathered at a local church in Abingdon to discuss the just-confirmed rumors we’d been hearing: Walmart was working with a local developer to build a supercenter on the southwest side of town, right at one of the major corridors connecting to Main Street. There was already a supercenter 7 miles south of Abingdon, and another 20 miles...

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4. Building Broadly Based and Durable Prosperity: From Concentrated Wealth and Widespread Insecurity to Worker Ownership and Community Capital

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pp. 129-166

In the latter part of the 1990s, there was a lot of talk in southwest Virginia and neighboring states about the steady decline in tobacco farming in the region. It would be five more years before the federal tobacco program came to an end, but both the amount of tobacco being raised and the profitability in doing so had been falling sharply for some time. Part of this had resulted...

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5. Taking Sustainability to Scale: From a Thousand Flickers of Light to Networks of Learning, Doing, and Change

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pp. 167-196

The first Saturday morning that Laurie and I set up our booth at the farmers market, we were one of about ten farmers in that rough old parking lot. There was a handful of very dedicated producers there every week, and a few who came and went. The quality and diversity of the products we were collectively selling could probably best be described as “okay.” Customers ebbed and flowed too...

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6. Rebuilding a Meaningful Public Debate: From Debilitating Corporate Media to Energizing Civic Conversations

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pp. 197-222

In February 2011, I spoke to a group of about one hundred people in Blacksburg, Virginia’s old downtown theater, the Lyric. My topic, “Economies, Community, and Love,” offered lessons from my work in the Appalachian region, along with ideas about how to begin to rebuild community and restore love for our places, our environment, and one another. At the time...

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7. Transforming Politics from the Bottom Up: Unleashing a Community-Based Politics of Engagement to Overcome the Lobbyists and Moneyed Elites

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pp. 223-246

When I declared my candidacy for the U.S. Congress in 2012, it was the first time I’d ever run for any kind of public office. Folks asked me why I didn’t start with a local or state office and then “work my way up” to Congress, a more typical and plausible path. The answer was that I wasn’t looking to embark on a career in politics but that I wanted to enter the debate about national policies...

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Conclusion. Creating a New Story, from the Bottom Up

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pp. 247-272

It is the day after Christmas 2014 as I complete the writing of this book. From a small café in Marina di Ragusa in southern Sicily, I’ve begun this conclusion with the hope that I can both distill the most important lessons from the emerging alternatives we’ve considered and provide the reader with a bit of guidance about how you might support and participate in the bottom-up economy...

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Acknowledgments

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pp. 273-274

This book has come out of the experiences I’ve been fortunate to have over the past three decades, and from the nagging sense that the serious problems of our times demand broader, more holistic, and more urgent responses. With this in mind, there are two distinct groups of people whom I wish to acknowledge here: first, the hundreds of practitioners I’ve come to know...

Notes

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pp. 275-294

Index

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pp. 295-308

Culture of the Land: A Series in the New Agrarianism Editorial Board

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pp. 309-310