One experiment on Bainbridge Island has been to build a community Internet
local commerce to reduce the impact global marketing through the internet. On
Bainbridge Island, we have a community oriented web site
www.bainbridgeisland.org. that represents the interests of the community rather than those of the global marketers and international corporations.
The role of this community site is to first connect the community with itself
and its assets rather than to draw attention away from local solutions to
global commerce. Local community relationships are undercut every time
advertising artificially moves dollars into transnational corporations.
Community is important to a healthy geopolitical landscape. The internet itself creates invisible communities,
not connected in any geopolitical way, but very important to their
Pugh Research Institute on importance of community
We are now in the process of establishing "new trade routes" through the
internet. The owners of these new trade routes, high speed internet pipes
(the AT&T's) and the owners of the "Portals" (Amazon's) will become a retail
store in the living rooms of every house in the nation reshaping the
economies of small towns the world over. Every time you push a button that
leads to a sale, the "account" that owns the button gets six to 20% of the
price of the sale as a commission. The chamber of commerce and city councils
can be "bought" by global commerce, turned away from the very communities
they serve, if they are cut into this source of revenue. Each purchase
decision then draws attention away from the local community and the relationships between a
two neighbors who choose to do business with each other. On Bainbridge
Island, we want to create a way for shoppers to look first to their own
community, to support their neighbors and their local businesses. We expect that some of the five million dollars in tax revenue that now is lost to our local community will be recaptured as part of the sixty million dollars of the annual
internet sales that currently takes place here is returned to our local community.
Redefining a Global Economy
"Give a man a fish, feed him for a day. Teach him how to fish,
him for life."
Let's rewrite that in current terms.
In the face of GATT & NAFTA and a thousand points of light we are
our base of economy into large sectors of control and corporations. This
creates an efficient money machine for those in control of the "trade routes"
but centralization creates a fragile system. It is subject to the rise and
fall of the influences of the stock market and various catastrophes that can
interrupt distribution network, political influences and natural disasters.
Centralization therefore creates the seeds of its own destruction. Diversity
is known to be the key to survival. As we lose diversity, we become more
vulnerable to disasters of any kind.
Centralization creates and reinforces its own, the impetus to yet more
centralization. The higher up the ladder you go in business the more you will
run into controlled marketing and distribution mechanisms all geared to
control a market through the exclusion of others. What would happen if we
had an open and free distribution network that could not be owned?
This can happen through a community internet project. This project could
be a site for a small community or a collection of small community sites tied
together into a larger community. Think globally act locally, then join
hands. What is needed to accomplish this is a formula (not a template) for
community that is universal in nature. Eventually the structure and concepts learned here at Bainbridge Is. Community Network will be given away
with the condition that it needs to be owned collectively by the participants
and open to all. (The development of Linux, a free operating system whose source code is given away and threatens Microsoft Windows is an example of what is possible). "Local trade communities" function
locally but can connect to others like themselves into greater trade
communities as the need arises. This will have the net affect of building
stronger more self
sufficient local economies that can also participate in bigger global market
places. The money that would go out to perpetuating large corporations and
share holders will return to the local economy. Our model works. Getting
it out into the world without having it owned is the hard part, most of the structure and knowledge for what I described above exists.
If projects like this do not succeed you will see the gulf developing between
haves and the have-nots in this world grow ever wider and the bulk of the
middle class move closer to the bottom of the scale. You will see the death
of small town retail cores and a society that becomes ever dependent on a
global marketing and distribution system that can fail catastrophically.
What Bainbridge Island Community Network does is use technology and the internet to
support and develop buying locally.