“A New Economy” – Documentary review

What if businesses could be successful, while supporting people, neighborhoods, and our planet? A New Economy is a documentary, currently available on Netflix, that explores this idea.

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This Canadian film spotlights several non-traditional, cooperative businesses who are trying to forge a new path toward the future. In Vancouver, urban lots are transformed into living farms by Sole Food Street Farms, currently the largest urban farm project in North America. The farms are tended by employees with a history of poverty, drug use, or other problems, giving them an income and a social network that they otherwise wouldn’t have had. The food produced by the farm is sold at markets and restaurants in the area.

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Other spotlighted business include The Red Victorian, a hotel that doubles as a cooperative living community, London Brew Co-Op, who brew small-batch craft beer with local ingredients, Sensorica, tech company that empowers small inventors, Thorncliffe Park, a market established to build community among immigrants in a housing complex, and Loomio, a meeting software that encourages cooperation and opinion sharing. Each business abandons the established corporate model and instead focuses on working together and giving everyone a voice.

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This is a pretty cool documentary! There’s a nice variety of different projects, showing some of the many creative ways this concept can be used to create successful businesses.

There’s no denying that the desperate rat race for money has done a lot of damage to our society. This film gives some hope to the idea that we can create a more supportive, cooperative world where cooperation replaces competition. I was particularly moved by the story of one of the farm workers, a heroin addict who credits Sole Food for saving his life. And watching this has made me really want to support my local businesses. 🙂

The only complaint I have about A New Economy is that it’s a bit slow at times. The running time is 1 hr 25 minutes, but I think with a little editing it could have been a comfortable 1 hour film. Perhaps a bit less footage of the string quartet? They are amazingly talented and the music is beautiful, but these sequences bring the film to a halt.

I recommend this documentary to anyone who wants to get inspired to see a better future! You can find it on Netflix, and the filmmaker’s website is here.

Websites for the spotlighted businesses: Sole Food Street Farms, London Brewing, Sensorica, Loomio, Borealis String Quartet

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