Box of locally grown vegetables/DepositPhoto

Helping Build the New Local Based Economy

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Guest Column By Deb Conklin

This week I signed up for a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) share with LINC Foods/Farms. And I ordered some spring micro-greens from LINC Market to pick up this Friday.

I did this because I realized that I really want fresh greens, but am not ready to risk grocery stores yet, unless I really have to. LINC has posted what they are doing to deliver fresh LOCAL produce while practicing physical distancing. I was impressed. But I know the LINC folks, so I was not surprised. I also did it because I am committed to supporting local businesses. Last week I was on a SIMBA (Spokane Independent Metro Business Alliance) virtual gathering and realized that the time to get serious about building our LOCAL economy is now.

It is something I have been preaching and supporting for the last decade. But, up until now, I have allowed my capacity for actually building it to be limited by my commitment to other projects. Well, no more!

This pandemic has brought home to me a commitment that I made after the 2008 Wall Street created economic crash — to work to bring down Wall Street before I die, by creating local economies that support healthy communities instead of multi-national corporations. This commitment grows out of my Christian faith — John Wesley style.

Faithful Christian discipleship requires one to care for creation; love (ALL) one’s neighbors; and work for just economic systems. Our United Methodist Book of Discipline (our guidebook for living faithfully) calls us be caretakers of God’s Creation.

All creation is the Lord’s, and we are responsible for the ways in which we use and abuse it. Water, air, soil, minerals, energy resources, plants, animal life, and space are to be valued and conserved because they are God’s creation and not solely because they are useful to human beings. God has granted us stewardship of creation. We should meet these stewardship duties through acts of loving care and respect.

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Jesus himself reminds us that love of neighbors (along with love of God) is the Great Commandment. And that my ‘neighbor’ is anyone in need (Luke 10:25-37). If I genuinely love those whom God loves I will work for justice and mercy for all peoples.

Economic justice is core to the message of Jesus. He talks more about money — the hoarding of wealth, theft of wages and failure to care for those in need — more than any other subject. His vision for the kingdom of God is one in which we feed the hungry, clothe the naked, provide homes for the houseless; and practice radical hospitality toward strangers and sojourners (Matthew 25:31-46). This is just the first step in my renewed commitment to building a healthy local economy, but it will not be my last.

I had already: refused to order from Amazon (supporting local indie bookstores); made locally owned stores (like Northwest Seed and Pet) my first choice for gardening and pet supplies; and encouraged New Economy efforts like LINC and SIMBA.

This year, the COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting economic crisis (to which Congress — Democrats and Republicans alike — has responded by primarily funneling money to Wall Street and multi-national corporations) has renewed my commitment to actively work for change. The time has come for ALL OF US to join the effort to build a healthy local economy.

As a first step, I challenge you: unless you grow your own organic produce to meet your families needs, purchase a CSA today! I chose LINC (Local Inland Northwest Coop) because I am deeply committed to their vision of a system of local, worker-owned businesses in our area. But there are other options for joining a CSA. Urban Eden Farms is hyper local – in Vinegar Flats on the Southern edge of Spokane. And it has been growing organic produce for decades. Tolstoy Farms is a worker collective outside of Davenport that has been committed providing healthy organic produce to the Spokane area for over 30 years. If you want to start small (but no produce til August) you can buy a share of Frisson Farms (run by veterans) located South of Rosalia. They have CSA pick up points in both Spokane and Cheney among other locations.

As we move out of the physical distancing and economic damage done by the virus, we have a profound moral choice. We can participate in rebuilding the economy that privileges those who already have wealth and power. Or we can actively participate in building a New Economy that creates healthy local economic structures that practice social and economic justice. You will choose one or the other! If you don’t consciously choose the New Economy, you will de facto participate in rebuilding the previous, unjust one. There is no third option. Your choice matters to your neighbors and to your community. And I believe that the health of your soul depends on it.

SpokaneFāVS is a local non-profit that also needs local support. If you believe in the work we’re doing, consider becoming a member today.

About Deb Conklin

Rev. Deb Conklin’s wheels are always turning. How can the church make the world a better place? How can it make Spokane better? Her passions are many, including social justice in the mainline tradition, emergence and the post-modern and missional church.

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