Mapping a Just Transition Towards a Community-Centered Economy

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Over the past year, People’s Economy Lab with our partners have held multiple listening sessions and community led conversations about a desire to create a shared vision and narrative toward a Just Transition toward a community-centered new economy. As a result of these conversations, we have launched a pilot Just Transition Mapping Project that we hope will help to tell the stories and visualize the connection between various community-driven work to build a more democratic, regenerative, and equitable economy. 

The project will focus in the “economic issues” and lean into the Just Transition values filter as guiding principles to: 

  • Shift economic control to communities
  • Democratize wealth and the workplace
  • Advance ecological restoration
  • Drive racial justice and social equity
  • Relocalize most production and consumption
  • Retain and restore cultures

To learn more about Just Transition, please take a look at this Movement Generation Zine.

At our first session, we gathered trusted BIPOC community economic development leaders to help us identify what is contributing to an extractive economy, a ‘wicked problem” without simple solutions. By extractive economy, we mean an economy that relies on the extraction of labor, of natural resources, of culture and of community (borrowing from Climate Justice Alliance).

In a series of four facilitated workshops over the course of the next few months, People’s Economy Lab and the BIPOC community in the Seattle area will aim to:

  • Understand the current “extractive economy” we live in as a “wicked problem” and map this problem from the perspective of different stakeholders and communities in order to get a fuller picture of the “problems within problems” 
  • Collectively define a vision for a community centered economy and a path to creating it
  • Identify the critical leverage points that should be addressed and ecology of interventions that should be implemented to advance systemic change
  • Map the landscape of actors, projects, relationships and expertises around the leverage points for a regenerative economy
  • Use the map as a tool to organize and engage actors into alignment and begin to create a shared narrative
  • Center ourselves in our bodies throughout the mapping process using body based practices

Understanding an extractive economy is complex, overwhelming and for many BIPOC communities, is filled with historical trauma. Together we used somatics to breathe for a mind-body connection to our bodies as we explore the depth of this “wicked problem.”

This is a visual outcome of our first session identifying the complexity of primary root causes, secondary root causes, and consequences contributing to an extractive economy and beginning to find connection points using the Just Transition framework.

(Blur is intentional as the project is ongoing)

Once we have a better understanding of the extractive economy, we will together envision a future that works for all, and begin to identify an ecology of interventions. We hope to design a living tool that we can use to understand our economy as it is (extractive) and to strategically shape it into what it should be (regenerative). 

People’s Economy Lab is partnering with systems design and mapping consultants Kamal Patel and Dimeji Onafuwa, PhD of Common Cause Collective to help lead this conversation. A special thanks to the City of Seattle Equitable Development Initiative for the support to pilot this project.

We hope to share our learnings and engage a broader audience in the future to design a holistic ecosystem approach and a roadmap to a community-centered economy in the Greater Seattle region and Washington State.