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Building the democratic economy, from Preston to Cleveland

Centering community and place Expanding democratic ownership

In June 2018 The Laura Flanders Show released a special report, “Building the Democratic Economy, from Preston to Cleveland ,” co-produced with The Democracy Collaborative.  The documentary features the exciting trajectory of a new model of inclusive, democratic local economic development in what had been one of the most deprived areas in the North of England.  

Preston, Lancashire was once a thriving manufacturing city in the cradle of the industrial revolution.  But in recent decades it has been beset by deindustrialization, disinvestment and intractable poverty in a pattern familiar from America’s Rust Belt. Confronted with crisis and austerity, and with little prospect of rescue from the UK government in Westminster, local officials in Preston decided to take the response into their own hands, aided by the Centre for Local Economic Strategies.  

Inspired in part by the Evergreen Cooperatives in Cleveland, Ohio, the result has been the “Preston Model” of community wealth building, an increasingly celebrated approach (that we first reported on in 2016) in which the foundations for a very different kind of economy, with a focus on ownership, control, democracy, and participation, are being laid from the ground up.  As the film shows, the work in Preston is now in turn being taken up at the national level in the UK by Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party as a laboratory for “Corbynomics” and a proving ground for bottom-up economic system change. 

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