Guest Post: The Top 10 Coolest Ways People Are Changing the Economy


by Shilpa Jain of 

10. Impact Investing: What’s the point of funding good social justice and environmental change projects when your investments are tied up in the very companies and industries that are at the root of the problem?  Impact investors are helping companies and foundations bring their investments in line with their values, for BIG impact.

9. Collaborative Consumption: What’s mine is yours and what’s yours is mine…?  At least that’s what new businesses like Air BnB, CarShare, SnapGoods, and others are propagating.  Rather than buying more or renting from a big company, borrow my [house][car][tools], etc.  You get the benefit of a lower rate or unique experience or test-drive, and I get a little cash in my pocket.

8. Time Banking: The age-old question of time vs. money is answered by these folks who are making time THE currency of choice.  Everyone’s hour is worth the same, whether it’s an hour spent accounting, babysitting, or gardening. Bank and spend hours, get your needs met, and in the process, get to know your own gifts and talents and those within your community.

7. Worker-Owned Business: Karl Marx’s dream come true – without the loss of spirit and community.  Gone are the days when CEOs sit in the corner office and workers toil on the ground. In these new businesses, the workers are the owners and they are making decisions together, to share in the profits and losses, and figure out ways to sustain or grow their businesses.

6. Gift Economy: Beyond barter, this is the Pay It Forward movement. You receive a service or product as a gift from someone (often anonymously) and you contribute what you can to provide for the next person.  The Karma Cafés, where your meal is already paid for and your tip provides the meal for the next hungry soul, are leading the way with this model.

5. Freecycling: One man’s trash is another man’s treasure… Another off-shoot of the gift economy, freecycling includes everything from Clothing Exchanges, to Crop Swaps, to Book Trades, to more! It’s Craig’s List to the next level.  By clearing out of what we don’t need or use, and getting it into the hands of those who could put it to good use, we decrease clutter, hoarding and consumerism, for great environmental, aesthetic and social justice impact.

4, Community Currency: Big banks always seem to need bailing out, and cash spent at corporations leaves the community almost instantly.  What if we had local money that served local businesses, circulated amongst the community, and celebrated the uniqueness of the places we live in?  Instead of disappearing into fictional derivatives, folks are generating script that serves to strengthen and uplift their neighborhoods and keeps the wealth flow at home.

3. Gross National Happiness: If GDP goes up with every typhoon, divorce, and war, clearly we need a new measure of success. Inspired by Bhutan, people are leading the charge for a new measure of personal, communal and national success — one that takes into account our health, well-being, safety, and, most of all, our happiness.

2. Small Is Beautiful: Tired of the isolation, anonymity, and lack of accountability, people are supporting the local and small movement: moving their money to small cooperative banks; frequenting local businesses; and buying food at farmers’ markets.

1. Social Entrepreneurs: It’s time for the quadruple bottom line: purpose, people, planet and profit. New business makers are not settling for less than enterprises that rebuild the community, heal social relationships, feed their souls, and support their livelihoods. Great innovation is the result.

If you want to hang out with these top 10 movers and shakers who are growing this new economy, come to the Evolving + Emerging Economies Jam!  It will be held outside of San Francisco, CA, from April 3-7, 2013.  Hosted by a dynamic group of young changemakers working in this field, they are eager to JAM with you – to connect, deepen their learning, and figure out the coolest new synergies that are going to take this economy to the next level!

Learn more and apply on-line at


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