Transition Economics Book

A book in progress:

Transition Economics:


Transition Economics is a roadmap of design strategies for community-based economies. It applies holistic patterns of nature and learning for accelerating development of local economies essential for global sustainability.

Table of Contents

  1. Our Economy’s Broken Trust

    Where is our economy now, and how did we get here? What is money? What’s broken and why? With many aspects of our world dysfunctional and failing now, how do they relate to our economy?

  2. Interest – “the Root of Evil”

    Interest is the underlying feature of our money system that influences the basic nature of our economy and our fundamental growth imperative worldview. Interest was banned in biblical times for a reason; now we can see the problem as defined by the Occupy Movement’s description of the 1% and 99%.

  3. Our Evolving Human Story

    The big picture of human development on the planet is helpful for understanding how we got to where we are now. It is also important for getting to the questions of what is actually “human nature”. The notion of “sense of fairness” is helpful for understanding the human story.

  4. Principles for Designing a Healthy Economy

    The systems of nature that we can observe are successful, or they wouldn’t have survived. So we look at patterns of nature to derive a simple set of principles for designing healthy economic systems for resiliency and sustainability.

  5. Change, transformation, and learning.

    Patterns of change and principles of learning systems in nature can help in developing strategies for social and economic change. Change starts with the self, and self-transformation is a good place for change agents to begin.

  6. Storing life energy in diverse forms of capital

    We can understand economics by following the flow of energy from the sun to biological systems. Energy that flows from there into human economic systems is temporarily stored in different forms of capital. One of our economic problems is a result of our obsession with a “monoculture” of financial capital, without valuing and investing in other diverse forms of capital.

  7. Seeds of Life

    A fascinating eco-village community in Italy, Damanhur, exemplifies many of the principles of healthy systems. Damanhur’s purpose is to learn about and spread the best ways for people to live in socially, ecologically and financially sustainable communities.

  8. Living Wealth

    We take another perspective of Damanhur to explore how a successful community diversifies its investment in human energy to create multiple forms of wealth capital, transcending society’s obsession with financial capital to prioritize cultural, spiritual and other forms of capital.

  9. Backwards by Design

    Imagine what your community might look like as a vibrant, healthy community of the future. Now let’s go backwards by design, until we are in the here and now. Now we can begin a roadmap for how to starve the global economic beast by growing our own local living economies in each community.

  10. Anatomy of an Economy

    A whole-systems view of a thriving community would consider the classic elements of economy: labor, land, and capital. We also include businesses and currency to integrate a five-component system for the common purpose of creating a thriving local living economy.

  11. Catalyst

    First we eat, then we do everything else. Food production and distribution make sense as a primary focus in creating import substitution from the global economy to begin to build a local economy. What’s missing are the farmers, although young people are passionate about wanting to learn how to grow food and live sustainably. Let’s begin with a Farm School as a catalyst for creating a whole-community learning system

  12. Labor

    Fairness is what makes systems survive in nature. Farmers typically use interns as cheap labor, but the exchange for learning is often illegal and unfair. So let’s revive a modern form of the ancient village apprenticeship model to provide a transitional labor force and the training that will result in a new community labor source.

  13. Land

    All land might be considered stolen property. There are clever strategies for bringing land into community ownership, but in the meantime there is private land that is not being utilized that could be put into food production to serve the community. Abundance comes from matching the community’s surplus capacity with its economic need.

  14. Capital

    In our monoculture world of financial capital, we can begin to enhance true community wealth by diversifying investment into other forms of capital. We can also provide focused incentives for individuals to invest their forms of capital into channels that benefit the community.

  15. Business

    How might a local community succeed in job creation in an economic climate which is failing to create jobs in the global economy? We can apply the same principles that have driven growth of the global economy, to create positive feedback loops for business incubation, job creation and stimulating the local economy.

  16. Currency

    Economic activity is reflected by the flow of money. A local currency can keep that energy flow within the local region, blocking the leakage of community energy outside to feed the global economy. Because the value of money depends on what it can purchase, we need sufficient local goods and services for a healthy local currency. A healthy local currency stimulates further growth of local business producing goods and services.

  17. Niche Enhancement

    Competing with the global economy requires that we create and connect businesses in order to create the efficiencies of local economy of scale. Specialization, flexibility, capturing waste streams, and maximizing feedback loops help to create community systems. First on the list is a community Food Web for maximizing the flow of food from production to processing to consumption.

  18. Sustainable Human Settlement

    Thriving local living economies: how do they fit into a larger vision of humans living sustainably on the planet? In a steady state all flows must be sustainable, including resources, energy and economic trading. Many suggest that “sustainable agriculture” is an oxymoron, and that sustainable food systems require a paradigm shift to become perennial, permacultural systems. Just as nature’s exchanges are reciprocal, there must be a balance of trade among neighborhoods, villages, communities, regions, bioregions and nations.

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