Community Empowerment brings together a wide range of material that deals with ways to empower members of a community. Through group projects and activities, a community is empowered to make change.
In today’s world economy, where profits rule and small-scale producers are left out of the bargaining process, farmers, craft producers, and other workers are often left without resources or hope for their future.
Fair Trade helps stop this cycle of exploitation and encompasses a range of goods from the global south, from agricultural products such as coffee, chocolate, tea, and bananas to handcrafts such as clothing, household items, and decorative arts.
- Big Changes in Fair Trade!
- Chocolate: The Bitter Truth
- Support Authentic Fair Trade
- Fair Trade links & resources
- Where can I purchase Fair Trade products?
… focusing on the importance of going local to reap the advantages of local economic transactions. (For example, about 45¢ of every dollar spent at a locally-owned business circulates within the community, compared to only about 15¢ if spent elsewhere.) This Going Local category includes the thoughts of local business owners, community members, and students in the articles.
In Going Local: Creating Self-Reliant Communities in a Global Age, Michael H. Shuman asserts (p. 50), “The key [to sustainable community] is to start with self-reliance and frame local business, labor, and environmental laws and policies around it.
Globalization, on the other hand, lacks all the positive qualities of going local!
(Is capitalism itself the problem? See Michael Carriere’s interview of Alex Knight.)
Community Land Trusts
Community land trusts are a way for a land owner or community group to preserve open space, prevent undesirable land uses, and/or provide affordable housing. Ownership of the land is often deeded to a nonprofit organization.
Advocacy & Activism
For people in a democratic or holistic society to make informed decisions, we cannot solely rely on business or government to provide information. Individuals and organizations that advocate and press for change are key to a healthy democracy, one of the reasons the Bill of Rights provides such strong protections for freedom of expression and freedom from repression.
Arts & Culture
A look at how arts and cultural activities support—and may be essential for—a healthy democracy.
The Lehigh Valley has a wealth of historic buildings, structures, sites, and districts that add to the beauty and attractiveness of the region, increase understanding and appreciation of our heritage, and improve the quality of life. (Many significant historical features are also tourist attractions that add value to the local economy.)
Government & Rights
The Declaration of Independence tells us that ‘Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.’ For government to function as a democracy requires informed consent—informed citizens who participate in the decision-making processes of government, including elections.
For a society to function democratically requires more than majority rule, it requires that individual rights be protected—from the government or other members of society—and even extends to limits on the ‘tyranny of the majority’. The founders’ belief in individual rights led to the Bill of Rights. The movement towards fair human rights for all is culminated in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
The idea of minority rights includes not only normal individual rights for members of racial, ethnic, class, religious, or sexual minorities, it also includes rights accorded to these groups as a whole.
Read more about students’ rights and their importance for a free society.
Rights of Nature | Rights of Mother Earth
The ‘rights of nature’ concept recognizes that the natural systems have a right to exist, and that these rights may be superior to the commerce and property rights of humans; unfortunately this concept is only now becoming more widely appreciated.
In 2010, a general, global statement of the rights of nature, the Universal Declaration of the Rights of Mother Earth, was issued at the World People’s Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth. This lead to places, for example Bolivia, to recognize ‘Mother Earth’ as having rights that are parallel to human rights.
Militarism in Schools
Militarism is a combination of relying too much on military force for security and glorifying military service and values. In schools, it often takes the form of fostering the belief that the primary role of the military is to defend freedom and democracy, that serving one’s country means joining the military, and that we should all support the military. These three ideas are at best highly controversial.
In addition, when schools practice military values and methods such as authoritarian decision-making, unquestioning obedience, and regimentation, and when they allow standardized tests to dominate the educational process—instead of encouraging creativity, engagement, and learning—they are practicing militarism.
‘The Commons’ refers to resources that should be available to and accessible by all members of the community.
This website is for people, communities, and organizations trying to figure out: WHY the world is in the mess it’s in: global, holistic, historical perspectives WHAT we want – in all its holistic complexity – laid out in three sections: … more
by Jacqline Wolf Tice C.E.A. Winslow, the 20th-century “founder” of the modern public health movement, famously described public health as, “the science and the art of preventing disease, prolonging life, and promoting physical health and mental health and efficiency through … more
by Claire France Tried and true, teamwork makes the dream work. A recent visit to the Environmental Protection Agency confirmed this cliché for me and applied it to the world of working towards sustainability. I recently participated in my university’s … more
by Adrian Shanker In considering sustainability, one must ask:“How are the most marginalized in our community supported?” The sociocultural area of sustainability perhaps receives less attention than the economic and environmental pillars, but sociocultural sustainability has great influence on the … more
by Mary Catherine Foltz How can Universities and communities work together to promote sustainability? Lehigh University’s South Side Initiative (SSI) has developed a few different ways to answer this question in the past years. Recently, we worked with community partners … more
by Tom Church Our present society values commercial success over ecological sustainability. We fear scarcity more than we celebrate abundance. People cope with the pressure of living in this atmosphere in as many ways as there are people. In this … more
by Erlinda Aguiar My experience has shown me that a community is an interactive group where its members have an impact on each other and that the diversity of its members only contributes to make the community better. I hope … more
by Courtney Cohen My passion and desire to help the environment did not develop because I grew up on a farm or because I spent my days hiking in the woods, but rather because I was raised in New York … more
by Diane Husic Recently, I took refuge from work to visit the former site of Bethlehem Steel. This may seem like a strange place for a retreat, but when your work involves ecological restoration of contaminated sites and adaptation to … more