Harbinger Consultants

Culture + Complexity + Change

REPORT | Living Local Economies

We attended the Local Living Economies seminar with Michael Shuman yesterday and found it to be an inspiring and informative day spent in the company of others who are passionate about their communities. Michael spoke about the relationship between money and place, addressing the notion of a relationship-based economy.

As an economist, Michael was adept at presenting datasets for demonstrating the value and significance of local economies. He made the point that locally owned businesses in Australia represent about 60% of GDP (based on his review of statistical and economic data of the private sector) yet attracted a far less proportion of government spending or support than non-local business. Many of the statistics presented during the seminar seemed to run counter to generally held beliefs (memes) – it is not cheaper to shop at a supermarket, small/local business delivered more jobs more cost efficiently than big business, small/local businesses tend to take root deeper in communities than big businesses. In other words, local businesses contribute more to economic multipliers than non-local business. He also acknowledged home-based business, noting that small and home-based businesses were growing by 7% of GDP while large business was shrinking.

Rather than report on the whole day’s proceedings – you might as well buy his books or Google for articles and speeches – it seemed that a useful piece of information to share was Michael’s list of 10 ways to localise and save money (in US dollars per annum):

10. Drink locally and stop smoking (saves $800) – opt for locally brewed drinks
9. Localise car services (saves $1,000)
8. Give to local charity (saves $1,200)
7. Cut energy bill in half (saves $1,300)
6. Buy fresh food (saves $1,700)
5. Use local health care (saves $1,900) – in particular, prevention is cost effective and tends to be provided locally
4. Consume local entertainment (saves $2,100)
3. Eat out locally (saves $2,300)
2. Cut car use in half (saves $2,400) – paying for public transport puts money into local economies
1. Own your own home (saves $7,800) – obtain your loan through a community or local bank


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