A Non-Corporate Model for the Localized Economy: Guilds
Guilds offer a dynamic, flexible model for relocalizing and reinvigorating local economies.
The primary reason the U.S. economy is stagnating is that it is dominated by an increasingly dysfunctional Central State and the private cartels it protects. The solutions, therefore, cannot come from State central-planning or from global corporate cartels. The solution is to develop alternative models that reinvigorate the local, community-based economy and that leverage the new tools of productivity: the Internet, freely available software tools and new technologies such as desktop fabrication.
Though guilds have been around since ancient times, the Western model developed in the 1200s. The guild model is broadly based on mutual benefit and the conservation and sharing of applied knowledge. According to the Wikipedia entry:
An important result of the guild framework was the emergence of universities at Bologna, Paris, and Oxford around the year 1200; they originated as guilds of students as at Bologna, or of masters as at Paris.
While the Medieval guilds had an income-protection purpose much like a trade union or a cartel, modern incarnations of the model are aimed at serving both members of the guild and customers by establishing trusted information about local small-businesses.
To get a better understanding of the emerging guild movement in the U.S., I interviewed Mike Hartrich, guildmeister of the Santa Cruz Construction Guild (SCCG) in Santa Cruz, California.
1. What inspired you to start the Guild?