Chris Lowry, M.Ed., is Network Director of Green Enterprise Toronto--GET (www.greenenterprise.net), an alliance of local, independent values-based businesses. GET is the Toronto network of the international BALLE movement, the Business Alliance for Local Living Economies. And he has a vision for the future.
Picture yourself enjoying a sunny morning in a typical urban Canadian neighborhood. The sun shines on fruits and vegetables ripening in community gardens and greenhouses. People are preparing breakfast from local, sustainably grown and fairly traded foods, in low energy eco-efficient kitchens. From the café on the corner comes the aroma of local artisanal pastries and fresh-roasted fair trade coffee. Young people head out to school and workers to work on foot, on bikes, using the greatly expanded public transit, or in silent, zero emission locally-made electric cars. Every workplace, every business, every job is part of the greening economy. In this neighborhood and throughout the thriving city region it's easy and affordable for people to work and play, taste, and design in environmentally and socially healthy ways.
"This is the future GET is working to create," says Lowry, "because local businesses are more accountable to customers and the community, and have greater control over minimizing the environmental impact of their businesses."
Chris Lowry completed a Masters in Philosophy of Education at OISE/University of Toronto in 2004 and has been active in the bioregional movement since 1987. Recently, he served on the faculty of the Institute Without Boundaries, an interdisciplinary graduate program on sustainable housing design at George Brown City College School of Design. He co-founded Street Kids International (SKI) with Peter Dalglish, and has worked with agencies such as MSF/Doctors Without Borders (Canada). Now, with GET, he is working to build a better future sustained by a green economy.
"GET is about life-enhancing commerce, green jobs, regional self-reliance and interdependence," says Lowry. "We imagine an intricate web of fairly trading, locally focused economies covering the globe, and we believe in a healthy and vibrant economy for all." GET supports this by working to increase the production and purchasing of local and sustainable products.
"More and more people understand that supporting independent businesses is essentially voting with your dollars for a healthy local economy." Money spent at locally-owned businesses circulates longer in the local economy, as local business people pay for local services and enjoy their profits locally. According to Chris Lowry, "Such local circulation loops also support the development of cutting-edge enterprises in renewable energy, conservation technology, recycling, preventive health care, and healthy food systems."
"The GET network exists to amplify the work of the business and nonprofit leaders who are creating the new economy," says Lowry.
In an age of climate change, and rapid increases in fuel costs, Chris Lowry's vision makes sense not only for a healthy community, but also for a healthy economy. "Locally produced goods and services mean less transportation. A vibrant local economy protects against energy-related risks." In today's world, that's a vision anyone can use their dollar to vote for.