Future Economies Project, Starting Now
Back in 2009, I had the chance to interview two Oregon policy experts about the emergent green economy in that state. The interview is here:
Angus Duncan and Dave Van’t Hoff (starting at minute 3:15) talked to me about the vibrant industry clusters in Oregon that have developed around energy efficiency, solar, biofuels, wind power, sustainable forestry, green building and design. Add in craft beer brewing, light rail, great fair-trade coffee, and urban chicken-raising, and you get—well—the backdrop for a popular, offbeat TV show.
The Portlandia phenomenon aside, it is clear that Oregon has tapped into a powerful virtuous cycle. Forty years of progressive policy has laid the foundation for a highly entrepreneurial culture centered around sustainability. Oregon transitioned from a resource-based economy based on timber to a mecca for talented people in search of a high quality of life, people who took advantage of what the state and city offered, to build a whole suite of new businesses. This business community, in turn, supported a policy environment increasingly supportive of emerging green industry.
This same dynamic is happening, at different scales, across the country. While the old economy—the twentieth century economy—implodes around us, with hollowed out cities and disappeared jobs, a rapidly warming planet, and three more billion people on the way, some folks are responding. They are building new models, crafting new rules, enabling new businesses and new livelihoods, new ways of providing food, entertainment, shelter, energy, transport, clothing.
The Future Economies project is setting out to map this landscape. We will tell the stories of companies and communities as they creatively build a twenty-first century economy. The descriptive metrics that we are developing will enable others to fill in the map with even more stories, so we can all get a better look at the sustainable future that is coming, starting now.
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