Crystal Arnold

How a Would-be French Teacher Became an Economic Wonk

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Gwendolyn Hallsmith didn't set out to became an expert on sustainable development and monetary policy. Like many women I discovered in my research on economic women for Screwnomics, Gwen got here by simply pursuing what she held dear. She began by protesting threats to the environment, but says that eventually she saw protest alone wasn't enough. You needed a plan of action, a solution, or at least a goal with a community process for reaching it.

The result is a half-dozen books on community and city planning, sustainable development, currency, and local economies. She travels the world to speak to diverse people, who are looking for economic answers.  Most recently, she says in this interview with Crystal Arnold, on Money- Wise Women, a podcast radio show, Gwen spoke to a group in Costa Rica. She discovered there, people with similar goals of sustainability and community to those she fosters in her home state of Vermont. Importantly she fosters methods and action, as well.

What are a sustainable economy's parts? An economy and monetary policy that supports workers, a healthy environment and food system, and local investment in community and local small businesses is a goal. But we face barriers. She talks here about the female hands that help "hold up the sky," whose caring and work is routinely left out of the way we account for the economy.  About sexism in our value system, she says:  "It's not only concentrated in money, it's magnified." The Federal Reserve is part of the topic here, creating and enforcing an artificial scarcity. 

She's doing "An Economy for All of Us" education series on YouTube, and talks about it here. Her analysis uses a 5-part acronym she calls OMMMM, to name the economy's components in order of importance: Ownership, Money, Markets, Management, and Metrics. Her dissection is clear and accessible, and Crystal's comments and questions are more intimate that the typical talk. Listen to this woman-to-woman conversation here:

The Eros of Money

I've been doing a lot of great radio interviews and podcasts, but not often with that rare bird, a female economist. Crystal Arnold and I had a conversation that went a little deeper than many of my short interviews allow--into the heart of my book. We talked about what I call EroNomics, the stuff you cannot buy or sell, but can only give away and share.  Eros is the renewable fuel of any economy. It motivates, and gives us purpose. It calls on us to open to our dreams and be better than we ever knew we could be. 

Poet Audre Lorde influenced my thinking about the practicality (and even necessity) for claiming your deepest desires. She wrote an important essay "The Uses of the Erotic." Another influence was psychologist Rollo May, who wrote Love and Will. May warned Americans of a predictable demise when we deny Eros, or what psychologists call the sum total of all our instincts for self-preservation and survival. We need those instincts more than ever today.... I was delighted to discover Arnold's show, Money-Wise Woman....Here's the link!