Friday, September 09, 2005

Community Supported Manufacturing

Working towards a post carbon lifestyle, one that does not rely on petroleum-based products for so much of its daily existence, will require re-learning to locally make many of the things we need. It will involve a return to community reliance instead of the current dependence on globalized corporate structures that now transport goods thousands of miles with relatively cheap and polluting energy.

This Post Carbon Institute will outline it’s solutions in a forthcoming book, “Relocalize Now! Getting Ready for Climate Change and the End of Cheap Oil.” The book places local self-reliance as a core solution.

When we first approached the idea of returning to making our daily needs, the problem seemed insurmountable. Everywhere we turned it appeared that the means of production were missing and that the free market philosophy meant that no product would ever make it to the business plan stage because everything can always be made more cheaply (in rotten conditions) offshore. The only entry point would come from replicating the same techniques of quasi-slavery and corporate ruthlessness we find so despicable. If only there were some way of shielding the local production system from the rapacious lunacy of globalization.

We think there is, but it is not simple or easy. What is required is a near total remaking of the infrastructure, what we have called the parallel public infrastructure…it will be a system to help integrate the many disparate efforts that are now starting to bridge the carbon chasm….Yet even this will not be enough to start a new local production venture – this will require the active and possibly prolonged financial support of the community. The model we look to is that of community supported agriculture (CSA). We want to transfer community cultivation from the land to the workshop. Developing different and varied techniques of community support will require different kinds of production organization and different ownership structures. We envisage a mixture of everything from municipal ownership and operation through cooperatives and mutual aid organizations to family businesses and other smaller, locally owned firms. In all cases, stress will be laid on local ownership and control…It should be clear that all these many formulations, and some that may yet be invented, utterly and completely exclude the global corporations.


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