Riff on Michael Shuman

For thousands of people around the world each day the Google News Alerts service deposits the results of key word searches among the thousands of news sources in Google’s global network in email inboxes, mine included. Among the terms I have setup for searches is “community currencies.” This morning the following item appeared:

Candidates for Ward 1

Raise the Hammer – Canada

… His ideas of how credit unions, commercial banks and thrifts with community ownership structures, and local currencies can keep community wealth circulating in …

The content trailer was intriguing, leading me on a two-hour surfing odyssey. The results are logged below in the event that others might be interested in some of the touch points I encountered along the way.

First, click to the article on the Raise the Hammer website; then, click to learn more about the Raise the Hammer community action initiative in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada, which, according to Wikipedia is the 8th largest city in Canada with a population of slightly over 700,000.

Municipal elections are coming up and one of the candidates is a person named Brian McHattie. In a response to a request from Raise the Hammer, Mr. McHattie stated the five most important steps he would take if elected; his fifth and final point was as follows:

5) Develop a Community Economic Development Strategy. ‘Recently, Environment Hamilton brought U.S. economist Michael Shuman to Hamilton to talk about a strategy where communities adopt a strategy of self-reliance with local production for local consumption.

His ideas of how credit unions, commercial banks and thrifts with community ownership structures, and local currencies can keep community wealth circulating in and working for the community must be investigated as a basis for Hamilton’s economy, along with import substitution and directing City purchasing power to locally owned businesses, thereby keeping money circulating within the city – plugging the leaky bucket.’

Enter the name, “Michael Shuman.” So who is this Michael Shuman person?

A Google search found several listings one linked to a biographical article in The Nation. The next click goes to the homepage for The Nation and more background on the publication.

Another link in the search about Michael Shuman referenced “Community-based Economies1 at a forum on August 3, 2006 sponsored by the University of Kentucky Appalachian Center and partners.

No journey is complete unless some inviting by-ways are explored 😉 One side-road was a closer look at the terms “Sustainability, Entrepreneurship, and Local Economies.” A click in a Google search led to the University of St. Gallen in Switzerland and its Institute for Economy and the Environment. One of the faculty members, Dr. Rolf Wüstenhagen, co-authored a paper, “Structure of Sustainable Economic Value in Social Entrepreneurial Enterprises” that can be downloaded as a PDF file. Any research that can find better ways to determine value of such endeavors is worth its weight in gold and Dr. Wuestenhagen’s study is certainly a useful approach!

Another trail through the woods led to a startup originally named “Chesapeake Friendly Chicken,” funded in part by USDA grants, but now grant-independent and listed as “Bay Friendly Chicken.” There are several write-ups about this company from a wide range of perspectives including CNN Money and Animal Liberation Front. This represents an “educational process” from which many with a similar entrepreneurial spirit in agricultural production and process can learn.

But I digress, back to Mr. Shuman. His bio in the The Small-Mart Revolution—How Local Businesses Are Beating The Global Competition he is listed a Vice President for Enterprise Development with the Training & Development Center (TDC) based in Maine. The founder and president of TDC is Charles “Chuck” Tetro. Mssrs. Tetro and Shuman team as co-presenters and co-facilitators. One of those collaborations was to deliver a course at Whidbey Institute in Clinton, WA. The flyer announcing the session exploring!2 read as follows:

“Exploring Local Living Economies and Community-based Business” with Michael Shuman and Chuck Tetro Sunday, July 17 to Sunday July 24, 2005, A Residential Course at the Whidbey Institute in Clinton, WA: Michael Shuman is the author of GOING LOCAL: CREATING SELF-RELIANT COMMUNITIES IN A GLOBAL AGE and Vice President of Enterprise Development for the Training & Development Corporation. Among his current projects are a poultry company in Eastern Maryland financed through local stock, a small-business venture fund in New Mexico, and a local debit card in Maine. He speaks and consults around the country on strategies for strengthening local and regional economies, and he is one of the founding board members for the Business Alliance for Local Living Economies, a network of, by, and for community-based-businesses.”

Mr. Shuman is a busy person! A search for Business Alliance for Local Living Economies (BALLE) uncovers an active North American network. The search results also show a connection to the specific term “Living Economies” and a link to livingeconomies.org which proves to be the home page for bealocalist.org, aka, BALLE. At one time, Mr. Shuman was on the BALLE board. His former BALLE bio mentioned a website under development named, “CommunityFood” (no longer functional) that is intended “to support marketing by family farmers.” The website layout is an excellent framework / template to utilize in moving the localization of agriculture across North America. And in looking at all the blank states on the BALLE homepage map of chapters / members it appears there are thousands of opportunities 😉

Mr. Shuman’s latest book, THE SMALL-MART REVOLUTION: HOW LOCAL BUSINESSES ARE BEATING THE GLOBAL COMPETITION, published in 2006 by Berrett-Koehler and distributed by Amazon and others, continues to expand his theses in a powerful, yet engaging and entertaining manner, according to the reviewers. But see for yourself.

And this is wonderful place to stop for a while. I’m sure the odyssey will begin anew when another compelling news blurb pops into the inbox — happy reading and exploring!3

Originally posted to New Media Explorer by Steve Bosserman on Saturday, October 21, 2006

  1. Information about Michael Shuman’s forum at the University of Wyoming referenced in my original posting is no longer available online. 
  2. Links to the flyer and related information about Charles Tetro and Michael Shuman are no longer available online. 
  3. Much of the information about Michael Shuman and the terminology, projects, organizations, and source materials referenced in my original posting evolved over the intervening years. I attempted to keep as much of the original text as possible, except in several instances where deviations became inevitable. Mr. Shuman is still “living the dream” helping others develop local economies as this January 27, 2019 post to his website attests: Why Local Economies Matter. I will pick up the topic of localization in a separate post at a later date.

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