What Does a Permaculture Economy Look Like?


Bryan Innes from the Living Economies Trust advocates for decentralising the economy to truly meet the socio-economic and environmental needs of communities. Bryan and his wife Jo are hosting a workshop this Saturday to explore the different options available for residents in Whāingaroa.


The economic system that the majority of the world currently operates on is based on finite resources and linear economies where products and services are paid for using money as currency. As the issue of sustainability becomes more pressing, we are seeing industries coming to reckon with their future prospects whether it’s their impact on the environment or their viability as a business.


(Listen to the full interview below:)



When Bryan came to Whāingaroa 10 years ago, they calculated that around 20million dollars a year was being taken out of our local economy through the banking system through things like mortgages and interest payments, forcing us to grow the economy to use up even more resources.

“Things are looking dire and we are spiralling into chaos,” says Bryan on the state of the economy.

The cost of living crisis is currently impacting many people in Aotearoa and around the world and Bryan says their workshop will explore ways to rethink the economy, working together at a local level to help each other.

“When there is a local economy based on exchanges within the region, the economy is more reliable and can provide faster relief than waiting for action from the central government,” explains Bryan.

He uses examples that exist outside of the mainstream financial systems like saving pools, local exchange trading systems (LETS), local currency, co-ops and social enterprise.

Rural land like farms are often worth much more than urban properties but are cheaper to purchase. Bryan says that a group of people could pool their savings to buy a large piece of farm land as a shared property with multiple dwellings. Some industrial organisations from Auckland are now looking to buy farms in rural regions because they see the value in the properties.

The core idea behind living in an intentional community is to contribute to the community for the benefit of everyone - whether that’s producing food or providing labour, an exchange still occurs but the currency is not traditional money.

Bryan himself lives in an intentional community on a rural property with about 50 other people. They have no mortgage cost because they have pooled money together using saving pools and no power costs because they have set up their own power supply in the form of solar or wind. Their living costs for individuals are very minimal with costs popping up for the odd maintenance job on their dwelling.

Because they operate under principles of reciprocity in the financial sphere he believes this style of living is closer to what occurs in nature and is closely related to the idea of permaculture where there is reciprocity between organisms. The idea that we are all interconnected applies not only to the environment but to our financial systems as well.

Similar to nature, Bryan says that shifting to alternative ways of exchange can provide opportunities for mutual benefit without putting pressure on resources that are finite.

Living outside of the mainstream financial system is also about decentralising control. Smaller units or ‘cells’ of communities can meet the needs of their own people in a way that suits them and without the reliance on traditional finance options like loans where you pay interest.

Bryan says that so long as a group of people can come to an agreement under the legislation that is available, there are ways to get interest free finance. Through options like savings pools and land trusts money that is usually paid to offshore banks as interest can remain circulating in the community that it came from resulting in more benefits for everyone.

Want to know more? Make sure you head to the Economies for People Not Profit! Event coming up tomorrow - more details at this link: https://fb.me/e/3jpxZoZ1h