A key idea of community federalism is that regional and federal functions should serve to enhance the functioning of local communities and to supplement what cannot be done at the local level. This is why the flow chart shows the black feedback arrows. When you read the details of GANE, you will see that there are three primary federal functions:
- To remedy ecological and social problems arising from past and ongoing unsustainable activities.
- To assist in the conversion to sustainable economic activities at the local and regional levels. This includes federal funding of the community and regional efforts, setting appropriate standards based on feedback from the local and regional levels and assessing national progress toward sustainability, equity and full employment.
- To ensure that corporations are not allowed to undermine efforts at building sustainable communities and regions.
These need to be grounded in the community and regional processes.
Redefining Progress has developed the Genuine Progress Indicator (GPI) as a measure of real progress in social/ecological well being rather than using the GDP which only measures economic output. They say:
We believe that if policymakers measure what really matters to people—health care, safety, a clean environment, and other indicators of well-being—economic policy would naturally shift towards sustainability.
Redefining Progress created the Genuine Progress Indicator (GPI) in 1995 as an alternative to the gross domestic product (GDP). The GPI enables policymakers at the national, state, regional, or local level to measure how well their citizens are doing both economically and socially.
Another important federal function shown in the flow chart is to provide grants to communities which have developed a vision for becoming a sustainable community but do not have sufficient local resources for implementation of their plan to realize their vision. The Transition Communities movement described under Communities could be part of this federally-funded implementation if it arises from a fully participatory process within the community.
Where goods cannot be produced at the local level, for instance automobiles, there need to be federal standards like fuel efficiency standards to move the country toward environmental sustainability.
Indicators of Sustainable Well-Being:
Redefining Progress (see above)
Paradigms in Progress, Life Beyond Economics by Hazel Henderson, 1991. $16.95. Order from Knowledge Systems, 7777 West Morris Street, Indianapolis, IN 46231, or call 317-241-0749.
If Women Counted, A New Feminist Economics by Marilyn Waring, (Harper, San Francisco: 1988 $12.95)