JOAN: Let me start with community economic development. Most of us understand community economic development to mean the development of local self-reliance through the production of wealth for the community. Even in poor communities, a lot of wealth comes in: welfare cheques, wages from seasonal jobs, mortgage money, construction jobs, and so on. Most of it goes out again immediately, either to landlords who do not live in the neighborhood or who pay it to a mortgage company, to supermarkets that are owned by corporations, to chain corner stores and to banks. Community economic development, as we understand it, is trying to address this problem and make the dollar turn over as many times as possible before it leaves the community, thereby creating jobs and income.
     But this is not what many government and corporate people are talking about when they promote community economic development as a way to maximize corporate profits or to win support from the local electorate. In large parts of Canada, including Sudbury, where I come from, leadership, resources and population are being sucked into the large cities. Farming communities are being depopulated, single industry towns are finding that new technology is depleting their workforces. Fishing and farming are increasingly being run by mechanized corporations that require fewer and fewer workers.
    Community economic development, as the government plays it, is too often used as a way to keep local elites happy. Money is put into investment funds that allow people to start small businesses and to test out expansion ideas. Communities like Sudbury are just littered with the corpses of small businesses that people tried to start. The concept that you're free just because you owe your life to a mortgage company instead of to a boss is very questionable.
     I think we need to develop community economic development plans that are based on a vision of a community that is different. Entrepreneurship says find your market niche and build on it. I think that's self- defeating, in terms of the person themselves and in terms of the kinds of communities we want to build. I think as a society we have a responsibility to raise children. I think we have a responsibility to share wealth. I think we have a responsibility to look after people. I can't see that entrepreneurship programs that encourage women to go off mother's allowance so that they can work 40 hours a week plus look after their kids on almost no income are any kind of advance.

SUSAN: You and I attended a conference together last May in Vancouver on Women and Community Economic Development. At the conference, a group of black women from Nova Scotia made a strong presentation regarding their need to be recognized and included on their own terms. It seems to me that what they were talking about lies at the heart of any vision of feminist economic development. What thoughts do you have on this aspect of bringing feminist development alive?

JOAN: I think that the question of privilege is really important for white middle-class feminists to face up to. I think we have to start looking at ways we can create base community in our work, so that we share what we've got. I can't feed all the poor people in Sudbury. But what I can do is help to fund organizations that fight for change. Being poor in a place where you are supposed to understand why people have more than you do is an awful experience. The reality in this country is that if everybody shared their wealth there wouldn't be anyone destitute. We would all have $75,000 each every year.
    I think that poor people ask us to understand that our interests lie with them, to fight for justice in the economic system and basic social transformation. If we don't fight with them for those things we might as well be telling them that their pain is irrelevant.
    In terms of race, I think we need to start having representation for racial groups that is no longer token. Which often means leaving some of our friends out of a meeting because we want to make room for other people to get some control. It means understanding that we have a lot to learn from third world women's struggles. They know a lot more than we do about building resistance and building change, building base community that can support change.



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