In 2012, I participated in a one-day symposium on “Rural Solutions: Economic Development on a Human Scale.” The material would eventually be useful for writing Fast, Easy, and In Cash: Artisan Hardship and Hope in the Global Economy
The symposium addressed themes of Microbusiness Development, Agriculture, and Community Development, connecting with the issues I was thinking about for the local schools:
Rural economic development has been a public policy puzzle for many years. Too often, policy makers look for economic development solutions that can also generate politically favorable headlines. In other words, they seek out large, well-known companies or fast-growing entrepreneurial gazelles that can generate dozens or even hundreds of jobs in a single well-publicized move. As a result, they frequently overlook the growth potential that exists in the indigenous resources–including human resources–of the community.
In addition to great discussions, there was a keynote with Michael Shuman, Director of Research and Marketing for Cutting Edge Capitol and author of Local Dollars, Local Sense: How to Shift Your Money from Wall Street to Main Street and Achieve Real Prosperity.
Special thanks to a great student, Dawn Rivers, for organizing this event. As of 2022, Dawn Rivers earned her PhD in Economic Anthropology at the University of North Carolina! Still working on rural solutions!
See also the related blog-post Local Economy Manifesto and this Intro to Anthropology 2022 lecture on how anthropologists approach the economy: