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What do you do if you are fortunate enough to have some extra money? Stuff it under your mattress? Invest in Wall Street? Put it in a bank? For various reasons, those may not be your best options. The economic crash and the Occupy movement have widened the space for alternatives and new thinking. A once fledging choice, investing locally has expanded greatly and taken root in a variety of places. It makes sense. By making the dollar move to Main Street, there is at least the possibility of creating more vibrant, self-reliant communities. Local investing can be done using a variety of approaches from cooperatives and community ownership to local exchanges. Exploring these options is critical. The big banks and investment firms, where most people have their money, are not overly concerned with building community.
Michael Shuman is the co-director of the Institute for Policy Studies and author of numerous books and articles on the connection between local economies and international affairs.