This week, the Laura Flanders Show has 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 and disinvestment and intractable poverty in a pattern familiar from America’s rustbelt. 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, 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 proving ground for bottom-up economic system change.
We are grateful to our partners at the Laura Flanders Show for all their hard work and collaboration, and we hope you enjoy this inspiring story – more evidence that another world is not just possible but is already being built right before our eyes!