Capitalism is failing people and the planet. However, its failures are not yet pervasive enough to force humanity to develop a better alternative. Not yet.
Detroit, on the other hand, does not have the luxury of time. Here, the old economy has failed so badly and the need for survival is so great that Detroiters must do for themselves and
must do so differently. At the same time, should their transformative efforts succeed, they could serve as a model for the world’s next system.
Therefore, Detroit is not only the canary in the coalmine. Detroit is the great hope of humanity.
The number and variety of Detroiters’ visionary initiatives are vast. They include: community gardens, urban farms, sovereign food systems, member-owned cooperatives, buying clubs, social enterprises, community production facilities, new work enterprises, community land trusts, community supported agriculture, renewable energy solutions, community-owned power, fabrication labs, off-the-grid homes, gift swaps, timeshares, freedom schools, co-working spaces, independent media, artist collectives, cooperative entertainment infrastructures, experimental music venues, new genre explorations, and intentional cultural programming that uplifts positive and indigenous identities.
Despite their breadth, all of these efforts share a common goal: collective economic determination and social liberation through a genuine culture of cooperation, community, democracy, and solidarity. Scaled up, these core elements could form the basis of a new cultural and economic system—the solidarity economy.
Yet if the solidarity economy is a better alternative than traditional capitalism, how can it actually replace it?
The first step must be to ensure the success of each initiative. Detroiters are getting there with unparalleled resourcefulness, but additional resources and training must be provided to bridge the gap.
The second step must be to scale, and to scale in a way that is strategic; to coordinate these projects in a way that prefigures the next system and converts the old one; to transform a city that symbolizes the impending failures of the old system into an inspirational harbinger of the new. In short, to build Detroit’s solidarity economy.
Detroit need not only be ground zero of the failing old economy. Detroit can be the birthplace of the new economy. In fact, it must be. For if it can be done in Detroit, it can be done anywhere. And that is the ultimate goal. To envision a better world and build it out of the ruins of the old. Speramus Meliora; Resurget Cineribus. What’s more Detroit than that?