“This Is About Energy Sovereignty” — One Step Toward Home

Written by Navina Khanna

June 19, 2014

As someone working to change policies and practice to bring us closer to food sovereignty, I think a lot about land and how our current systems are built on private property ownership. I dream of a day when we will collectively steward what is common to all of us: our land, air, water, and other resources.

Our friends at Movement Generation remind me that what I’m dreaming of is a different way of understanding economy — that the word “economy” comes from the Greek oikos and nomos  – and translates to “management of home”.

I hear a lot of talk these days about a “new economy” – but many of those conversations seem to start and end with the idea of local ownership of local businesses.

What most of us want and need to talk about is this: How will we love and manage and govern “our home” in our next economy?

Who will control our land, our water, our food, our energy?  How do communities reclaim these resources and move away from profit driven systems towards community stewardship?

I don’t have all the answers but I’m learning from the momentum of local victories that offer new and achievable glimpses of what our next economy can be and do.

I just heard about a win here in Alameda County, where our Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to take the first step in exploring Community Choice Energy.  Community Choice Energy would take our energy systems out of the hands of profit-motivated giant utilities and turn them into transparent, localized, community supported systems that can bring a climate voice to energy systems, create jobs and generate wealth in our communities.

“It’s the same way we’re starting to understand that we don’t have to get our food from grocery stores, or that we can collect our own rain water,” explained Colin Miller and Bobby Fuentes, two activists from Bay Localize, who took a moment to talk to me last week.  In words that warmed my food sovereignty heart, they told me, “This is about energy sovereignty.”

According to Colin and Bobby, Community Choice Energy “is about creating a local system that’s self-empowering that supports our regional economy.”  It’s about “becoming more aware of what’s going on, about using a new public agency to help ground a new kind of culture.”  Colin and Bobby tell me that Community Choice Energy opens the door to localities buying solar energy cooperatively and creating worker-owned energy cooperatives.

This is the “economy” conversation I want to have and the local work I want to see on a grand scale.

Shifting culture and building new collective relationships, that’s how we’ll birth our next economy — our new home.

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