Growing extremes of wealth and poverty shape the lives of every person on the planet. Can ordinary people make choices that take apart economic and social structures that have been intensifying inequality for several hundred years? Can we create economic structures that build reciprocity and solidarity? We look to the past at communities which organized economic activity to benefit the whole as well as the individual, asking how they did it, why it worked, and whether their efforts are relevant now. We look to the future to ask how groups of people could learn systematically about making economic choices that lead to dynamic, united, prosperous communities.
HOLLY HANSON is a professor of history at Mount Holyoke College, where she teaches African history, the history of global inequality, and history of small-scale agriculture. Her publications include "A Path of Justice: Building Communities with the Power to Shape the World," "Landed Obligation: The Practice of Power in Buganda," and "Social and Economic Development: A Bahá’í Approach."