by Colleen Donovan

On Friday, February 22, the Indiana County Center for Community Growth, a grassroots progressive organization, launched its film series with The Economics of Happiness (2011) at the Indiana Theater. The event was co-sponsored by The Thomas Merton Center of Pittsburgh.

The film, written and directed by Helena Norberg-Hodge, Steven Gorelick and John Page, discusses how globalization by transnational corporations have wreaked havoc on much of the world’s economies through the use of deregulation and mass trade. In her film, Helena Norberg-Hodge calls for the creation of localized economies as a solution to globalization, suggesting that we create a system in which goods and services are produced to fulfill real human needs, rather than based on ideas of consumption and growth, in order to generate stronger, more self-sufficient communities around the world.

Norberg-Hodge believes that the success of local, sustainable economies can be measured by the Genuine Progress Index (GPI) which accounts for “human, community, and social wealth” (2012, Para 20). By means of the GPI, local communities have the opportunity to focus on their personal wealth and happiness as measured in terms of prosperity and well-being.

Organizers for the Center for Community Growth chose to show this film in order to initiate a community-wide discussion about organizing to improve standards of living in the area. Over 100 people attended the event.

During intermission, Center organizers G. Smith and Eric Barker led a panel on how to bring ideas of localization and sustainability to Indiana County and Southwestern PA.

Panelist Molly Rush of The Thomas Merton Center described the TMC’s new mapping project that will help identify the many localization projects throughout the region. Craig Stevens described The Three-Rivers Community Foundation, support for programs that address economic justice. Representatives of the IUP Environmentally Conscious Organization (E.C.O.) and Jane Baumer also spoke, as well as Professor Susan Comfort.

Audience members responded enthusiastically to Dr. Comfort’s words: “I want us to recognize the wealth that we have in the people of Indiana county, and that there is real wealth here in this room.”

Many ideas were generated during the second discussion at the end of the film screening. Some suggested turning to organizations already active in the county for resources and support, such as the Indiana Community Garden and the Indiana Farmer’s Market. Others mentioned a wide array of creative and unique ideas for encouraging sustainability in Indiana, such as developing local currency, establishing a co-operative food market, community supported agriculture (CSA), building more community gardens, time-sharing plans, and more.

These ideas demonstrate the strength and passion possessed by the people of Indiana and that the community is ready and willing to generate a local, sustainable economy through cooperation, commitment, continued education, and action.

The film series will continue through late July. In March, the Center showed the fracking documentary Triple Divide (2012) by Melissa Troutman and Joshua B. Pribanic. This film focuses on the shortfalls of Pennsylvania’s Department of Environmental Protection and the controversy surrounding natural gas extraction in the Marcellus Shale.

The Center for Community Growth raises funds through membership dues. To join our organization,  follow us or to  make a donation, go to our website at http://theindianacenter.wordpress.com/    Also join our Facebook group, or follow @theindianacenter on Twitter.

 

Sources:   Baker, C. (June, 2012). The economics of happiness: A film review by Carolyn Baker. In reviews at: The Economics of Happiness.org. http://www.theeconomicsofhappiness.org/reviews/nar-reviews

 

Written by Colleen Donovan; edited by Lindsey S. Quakenbush.  Colleen Donovan is a member of the Center for Community Growth, a grassroots organization in Indiana County PA that focuses on community development.