This is Elizabeth Barger´s story

Local Leaders of the Peace Economy: Elizabeth Barger

How do you personally define the Local Peace Economy?

To not spend or be involved in anything that creates war, weapons or injustice. Economic justice is central to the Local Peace Economy.

What prompted you to make moves away from the war economy?

When I was a kid in the 1940s, I grew up in the Midwest with a thrifty family that cared about the land and always had organic gardens. We didn’t use insecticides or fertilizers; we used compost. I remember my little brother eating a great big tomato worm. Later on, I remember Eisenhower talking about the Military-Industrial Complex. After I moved to San Francisco in 1965, I became much more active in the peace movement. I was going to antiwar marches and got involved with actions with the Diggers, and my friends informally. I lived in the back of Blue Unicorn Coffeehouse near the Panhandle, I was a neighbor with the musicians in the Jefferson Airplane. I had only a tiny bit of money, so I tended to dumpster dive (we ate very well dumpster diving, because we knew how to do it), and lots of dry goods and clothes exchange, plus some buying at thrift and second-hand stores. I worked for Head Start and substitute teaching in public and private schools during this period.

We in the hip community knew that the economy was messed up, and we took it for granted that we had to work around it. We tried to re-use things, to be thrifty with resources, to not spend on products made by large corporations, walked a lot and used public transportation. We recycled - it just seemed like a good idea.

What are some of the key first steps you took to create your vision?

I was always really into gardening and being fair. Some of us had heard of this thing called North American White Witchcraft at SFSU, being taught by Professor Stephen Gaskin. First I was turned off by witchcraft, but later I understood it was more about energy and human relationships. The informal classes used to meet in the Golden Gate Park. Stephen was at a convention at Glide Memorial Church, with church leaders and university professors, who were very interested in what was happening with the psychological generation and their spiritual awakenings. We started The Bus Family and bought several school busses, fixing them up with kitchens and beds so that a group of people could live in them. I had 11 regulars plus 2 hitchhikers in my bus, and we drove to Tennessee. My husband-to-be was one of the hitchhikers, and we’re still together, 45 years later. The vision of The Farm was that we were going to save the world. We said it tongue-in-cheek, but what else was there to do? We meant to buy land and build a community. We intended to demonstrate that we had/have the power to be peaceful in all aspects of our lives. We were voluntary peasants working the land, and householder yogis - we could get married/pair up and have children. Religiously, we were mixed. We lived only 40 miles from where the Ku Klux Klan started.

What is your message to those endeavoring to become a part of the peace economy?

Get together with friends. Talk to your neighbors. Plant community gardens, and work on community projects. Start a second-hand store; gather clothing and shoes to share outside the money economy. Build a community of people who want to create a local peace economy. You can do it in the city or the country. Co-housing is one way to go. There’s a group called Sweat Equity in The Bronx that does just that.

Favorite way to participate in the Peace Economy, that can be easily implemented in a daily routine?

Re-use things and be thrifty with what I/we do. Avoid corporate outlets as often as possible. I meditate; meditation is important for my health, and the health of the people around me. I bless the world.

Elizabeth Barger
Boston, MA, United States

Phone: 931-964-2119

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