Two months ago I was planning a trip to New York to interview as an intern for the Kenya Mission to the United Nations. I thought I wanted this opportunity because it would have been an honor to follow in the footsteps of my father and grandfather and become the only other family member working in government. I was also after all going to school for a degree with a concentration in Foreign policy. I had begun my internship search two months before the interview and this was the only opportunity that seemed promising. It was exciting being in New York and getting to see where my fellow countrymen were serving the nation in distinguished public positions. However, that is as far as the excitement went. The manner in which the permanent mission and consulate offices were presented and business was conducted left me with an unsettling feeling. I did well enough in my first interview to be invited back for a second interview but I decided I would not be coming back even before I had exited the building thus I walked back to my hotel room taking in the sights and sounds of Manhattan. Later in the day I got an email from an internship that I had applied for during my internship search, it was with the New Economy Coalition (NEC) as an operations intern. I called the NEC back and had my first interview a day later and well you can say the rest is history.
The NEC is an organization that seeks to convene and support all those who are working towards a New Economy Movement (http://www.thenation.com/article/160949/new-economy-movement#). This begs the question what is a New Economy? A New Economy is one that is restorative to people and planet in a sharing and solidarity manner. It is operates on the principles of justice an appropriate scale. It seeks to give people an active role in their political and economic determination with shared prosperity, sustainable and equitable resources as well as systemic and institutional structural changes to the current economy and politics. The more I read up on the NEC the more excited I became partly because it was a 180 degree shift from the bureaucracy that I would have encountered at the KMUN and mostly because I am personally restorative in nature and like to come up with innovative ideas on how to fix societal problems. I learn and engage different scenarios when it comes to solving a problem and I believe that we should solve problems with a different mindset and perspective than that with which we created the problems.
The NEC used to be the NEI (New Economics Institute), which came about as a merger of the New Economy Foundation (NEF) and E.F. Schumacher Society which has been in existence for over 34 years. The NEC is a new offshoot of the NEI and NEN (New Economy Network) and is in its formation and transition phase. It currently has 16 staff members including 3 interns who work from various parts of the country (http://neweconomy.net/new-economy-coalition). I began my internship with the NEC at the Non Profit Center in Boston on April 1st and so far I have my assignments laid out for me during my time here, in no particular order.
- · Coalition mapping: I will be working with Mike Sandmel, Manager for Coalition Organizing, on putting together all the information we currently have on and about the coalition members, into a database, that is necessary to bring together and engage them and share the work that they are doing towards building a New Economy.
- · Operations support: I will also be working with Filippo Ravalico, Operations, on any necessary logistics required to run the organization such as financing/accounting, archiving and the legal aspects.
- · Conference planning: I will be working with Emma Puka-Beal, Manager 2014 Conference, and Emily Hardt, Program Coordinator, on assisting to plan the annual upcoming conference, Commonbound on June 6th-8th, (http://neweconomy.net/content/join-us-commonbound-june) which I would urge anyone who is able to attend.
- · My final assignment is assisting the amazing organization president Bob Massie on special projects mostly associated with development in a Salesforce.
I am very happy to be at the NEC because of all the new and informative things I am learning. I have been able to tie in a lot of my SPIA education in understanding the type of work we are doing. Last week one of the Board members raised the question of where, as a society, we hope to be in the next 40 years. This reminded me of having taken the Next 30 year’s course with Professor Singleton and I started to question why no one in the classroom discussions mentioned or (I think) even knew of a movement such as the New Economy Movement as a viable option for a game changer in the world, I certainly did not. Professor Howard's Global Justice class was really fascinating to me because it introduced me to concepts on international distributive justice, equality, sovereignty, human rights, poverty, fair trade and environmental justice that are being expounded on by my experience here at the NEC with information on federated funding, participatory budgeting, a culture of mutual generosity, social, political and economic justice through human rights.
Before coming to NEC I knew I should care about climate change but I thought of it as someone else’s problem. Coming from a developing nation I figured that the environment was a sacrifice I would be willing to make in order to see the country industrialize but seeing the work being done in regards to building a sustainable environment for businesses and people I am now convinced that we cannot continue to degrade our societies and that we need to start living the change we want to see. It has only been three weeks but so far I am beginning to live a more conscious life by where and who I choose to support and inform my life decisions such as businesses and world leaders. I have also started interacting with people on how to create grassroots movements in their communities towards a New Economy. This is something I would like to take back with me to Africa and begin the restructuring process of a continent that has been robbed of a chance to determine for itself what it should be.
This experience was expected to just shape my professional life but it has taken root into all other facets of my life and I am grateful for it because I would never have been able to get it anywhere else. At NEC we also have a staff book group to read and deliberate on the New Economy which will be facilitated as a seminar discussion. I think that the work of a New Economy can transform the world and I am glad to be a part of it.