Imagining and Creating the New Economy

What does it look like to build the new economy and new ways of being in relationship to money, work, land, and one another that support collective thriving? Communities are asking and answering these questions by re-envisioning and shifting how they work, and creating new models and innovations outside the status quo.

At the Communities of Opportunity July speaker series event, Cultivating Community Imagination: The New Economy, we heard from three community leaders re-imagining what land ownership and our local economies can look like – and what it looks like to create space for these different ways and models to emerge. With gratitude to panelists, Evana Enabulele (Queer the Land), Tepatasi Vaina (UTOPIA WA), Njuguna Gishuru (People’s Economy Lab) and moderator Deric Gruen (Front & Centered & People’s Economy Lab) the recorded conversation on how they are cultivating the new within their organizations and communities – what it looks like, the challenges, questions, successes and underpinning values of the work — can be viewed at the link below.

COO Speaker Series event 2: Cultivating Community Imagination: The New Economy (recorded July 22, 2021)

The conversation was honest, authentic, and wide-ranging. Highlights of the conversation include:


The impacts of COVID-19 have been devastating and disruptive to Black, Indigenous and other communities of color — and groups have taken it upon themselves to meet the needs of those left out of government programs, including sex workers, immigrants and refugees, formerly incarcerated people, and others in marginalized sectors of the economy. Still, communities have come together to move forward on solutions both to the acute impacts of the pandemic and the necessary changes to deeply embedded systems and practices that are barriers to health and well-being — including through the creation of new models and approaches that will provide real, tangible changes in the future


Building “new” models often means returning to the cultural and traditional models and practices that colonization has separated us from. Partners have built “new” organizational structures and decision-making processes and practices that are shared, horizontal and semi-autonomous, including rotating leadership and supporting new community leaders with intentionality. Communities are de-colonizing their language and approaches to building leadership – creating culturally relevant and informed spaces and processes; and, sharing resources, skills and being in mutual relationship – shifting relationships, agency and power around money.

There is a challenge and a constant need to confront the current system’s ideas – including what is “economically viable” or economically valuable, including frames of scarcity, competition and worthiness. There is a need to shift the engrained narratives and ideas about the economy and land ownership and stewardship and our histories. And, the folks building the new — the visionary leaders working outside of traditional systems’ parameters — need more spaces and systems for support and incubation of their work


We are enough and we have what we need to change the status quo, so that everyone has their needs met and can lead a full and thriving life. The knowledge, strengths, and solutions that exist in community that can ably shift our material conditions, if allowed the (historically denied) resources and opportunities to do so.

When we live in “beloved community” we live outside of the white supremacist culture that pits us against one another and within the abundance that is available within communities of care and mutual well-being. Building deep relationships is crucial to shifting our culture for greater authenticity, openness, transparency, trust and accountability, and to increase access to information and power for folks and communities that have been denied decision-making power and self-determination.

COO Speaker Series Cultivating Community Imagination: Cultural Shifts. Thursday, August 26, 12-1:30pm. Moderator: Paola Maranan. Panelists: Ginger Kwan, Mary Kummer, Jaimée Marsh.

In part 3 of “Cultivating Community” this Thursday, from 12:00-1:30pm, we continue the conversation about what needs to shift in order to create the future we want. Panelists, Jaimée Marsh (FEEST), Mary Kummer (Seattle Urban Native Nonprofits (SUNN) and Potlatch Fund), and Ginger Kwan, Open Doors for Multicultural Families will share the ways in which they are shifting culture in their organizations, communities, and our region. 

Alongside Moderator, Paola Maranan, panelists will be in conversation with one another about what they were seeing and experiencing that prompted them to shift their organizational practices and culture towards greater sustainability — and how did they know when these changes started to take root? What needed to happen within leadership to take on these culture shifts – and what support was required to be successful in order to move things forward? What did they need in order to stay accountable to themselves, their communities, and the work needed for a cultural shift to be successful?

RSVP here to Cultivating Community Imagination: Culture Shifts

and to receive the event recording

For equity and justice to be rooted in our communities, culture change that shifts our priorities, strategies and tools towards relationship, inclusion and care is essential. As Communities of Opportunity continues to learn from and engage with the transformational work of our community partners, we will also continue to uplift the work, learnings and resources across our network. This includes through the Cultivating Community speaker series, Learning Community tools and resources, and our upcoming September gathering, Meeting the Moment: Community Conversations on Healing, Organizing, and Building the Future We Want.

We invite you all to join us September 22nd from 10am-3pm for this free, virtual gathering of community leaders, activists, artists, organizers, guides, storytellers, experimenters, disrupters, and builders whose work is moving us towards the future we want. The event will elevate the work happening in communities across King County to build critical connections and spaces for healing, relationship, and innovation, that support the systemic changes needed to create greater equity in health, housing and economic well-being.

Meeting the Moment features 3 tracks focused on Connection & Healing, Organizing & Advocacy, and Future Visions, and an opening keynote and grounding from Autumn Brown. Gathering sessions will ground participants in the personal and relational work necessary to dismantle anti-Blackness, and the racist and oppressive practices and structures that are barriers to communities of true belonging. Together we will use this time to share, build, and connect our visions for a future invested in the strengths, self-determination and well-being of all. Session details and related opportunities for continued connection and capacity building, storytelling, and organizing to come, so stay tuned!

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