David Korten was chosen as an Utne Reader visionary in 2011. Each year Utne Reader puts forward its selection of world visionaries–people who don’t just concoct great ideas but also act on them.
When Wall Street malfeasance was fully revealed in the 2008 financial meltdown, there was a real opportunity to change the practices that led to collapse–a chance, even, for change in the way our whole economy works. So why do we find ourselves in the same position today, if not worse off, with Wall Street hucksters up to their old tricks?
“Because we didn’t have the framework for a different conversation,” says economist, author, and political activist David Korten. “Even just the basics: recognizing that money is not real wealth, money is just a number, and it has no intrinsic value, and that to essentially mine and destroy the real living wealth of nature and community to grow the numbers on computer hard drives is an act of collective insanity.”
So Korten is building the framework for that conversation.
“The deep changes involve a three-part strategy,” he says. “One is change the cultural story. Two is create the new reality from the bottom up. And three is change the rules.” He has founded or is involved in organizations that address all three: Yes! Magazine puts forward a new cultural story; the Business Alliance for Local Living Economies creates a new reality by strengthening local businesses; and the New Economy Working Group is changing the rules by building the foundation for an economy that focuses on Main Street, not Wall Street, needs while working in harmony with Earth’s biosphere. The framework will have to be built by an even larger progressive movement, though, which is why Korten is working with everyone from the Green Party to Van Jones’ American Dream Movement. “It’s about creating, from the ground up, a new political imperative that cannot be ignored by national politicians.”