The Field Guide Project Unfolds
Our first Field Guide to a Regenerative Economy study, Grasslands LLC, was published two years ago, in December 2010. Since that time we have continued to identify and report on the qualities that our Field Guide subjects share with natural systems. We have also, from time to time, stepped back to observe how the FIeld Guide project is itself unfolding in wonderfully organic ways. Here’s just one example.
In October 2011, in search of inspiration for our next Field Guide story and before a planned trip to Chicago, I contacted renowned political economist and historian Gar Alperovtz. I had first spoken to Gar, the co-founder of the Democracy Collaborative, in the spring of 2011 while conducting interviews and research for our second Field Guide study, “The Evergreen Cooperatives.”
On Gar’s short list of people I needed to meet in Chicago was Dan Swinney, founder of the Center for Labor and Community Research. When I met Dan in his offices on the West Side of Chicago in early October I was immediately taken with his vision of the regenerative role manufacturing can play in addressing the societal and environmental problems of our age. Equally compelling was his description of that vision's tactical expressions-- the Chicago Manufacturing Renaissance Council and Austin Polytechnic Academy. I realized immediately we had found the subject of our next Field Guide story.
Soon thereafter John Fullerton invited Dan to a meeting at Capital Institute. More than a few sparks flew around the room as the two shared their perspectives on the need for deep systemic change--John, a former Wall Street capital markets director, and Dan, a former labor organizer. Out of that sharing came the idea for the Next (Regenerative) Industrial Age Field Guide.
This, our fourth Field Guide story, is about the Manufacturing Renaissance Campaign and an inner city school polytechnic career program that is training leaders of the next industrial economy. But it is also a story suffused with the Capital Institute’s holistic vision and passionate belief that all economic (including industrial) activity must now be designed to meet not only human needs but the preservation of the planet.