Wisconsin Public radio broadcasted a program called The Economics of Well Being. I loved the title and the content didn’t disappoint.
The hosts interviewed four economists. One of the interviews was with the authors of Rethinking Money: How New Currencies Turn Scarcity into Prosperity by Bernard Lietaer and Jacqui Dunne. The authors gave examples about how alternative currencies created prosperity.
One example Lietaer and Dunne shared happened twenty five years ago. A city in Brazil didn’t have the money to address a problem with trash collection. The leaders looked at what they did have, which was a bus system. They told children that for every bag of separated garbage the children brought in, they’d receive a bus token. Soon the garbage was cleaned up and not only could the tokens be used to ride the buses, but local farmers started accepting the bus tokens for produce. Within five to six years, the standard of living in this city became better than in other cities in Brazil. The added benefit is a well-developed public transportation system.
What interested me most was how the leaders framed the problem—what do we need and what do we currently have? I suspect that the framing of the situation led to the solution.
It’s so easy when we perceive a need, whether that’s personal or in our communities, to say, we need ‘x’ and we don’t have the resources to accomplish ‘x’. Often what we don’t have becomes the focus of discussion.
The examples the authors shared demonstrated again the power of where we focus attention. Is our focus on the problem or the potential solution?
What if for every challenge we face in our lives or in our communities, we ask: What do we need?, What do we have?, and How can we leverage what we have to fulfill the need?
How can you see using these questions to address challenges that you’re facing?