Film suggests community solutions for local Maine economies

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PORTLAND — Organizations across Maine will screen “Fixing the Future” next week in an attempt to raise awareness and exchange ideas about the innovative ways people are building sustainable, local economies.

On July 18, at  7:30 p.m., Orion Breen of Hour Exchange Portland, Jonah Fertig of Local Sprouts Cooperative, and Lisa Fernandes of Portland Permaculture will host a screening at the Nickelodeon, at 1 Temple St. A discussion will follow the film.

It will center on how, in an era of austerity, a subculture thrives in Maine, creating community currencies and finding ways to supplement mainstream economic activity. “Fixing the Future,” a project of “Now on PBS” host David Brancaccio, documents community efforts across the nation including local banking, local currency, worker-owned cooperatives and buy local campaigns.

The documentary features Hour Exchange, which is a network for “neighbors to exchange services cash free and tax free, based on the currency of time.” With this “pay it forward” model, HEP maintains that everyone’s time and services are valued equally, regardless of gender, socio-econmic status, race, etc. With about 900 members participating, the services offered and exchanged are varied. Health care is one of the most sought-after services.

Ed Collom, USM associate professor of sociology, author of forthcoming “Equal Time, Equal Value: Community Currencies and Time Banking in the US,” reported that an average 21 hours are exchanged every day at HEP.

Orion Breen, speaking recently at TEDxDirigo, had this to say about the community currency paradigm:

“We live in an artificial economy that values scarcity. So scarcity is what’s rewarded and perpetuated. What if we valued abundance? What if we valued those things that we all share … millions of people are unemployed or underemployed. If you look around your community, there is no shortage of work that needs to be done. But we can’t wait on Washington or Wall St. In the words of Edgar Cahn… ‘we have what we need, if we use what we have.’ And what we have is each other.”

Tickets are available in advance from the Nickelodeon. Usual pricing applies: General admission is $8, or $6 for children under 12 and seniors 65 and over.

Marena Blanchard can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 115 or Follow her on Twitter: @soapboxnoise.