Don’t panic! This is NOT going to be an article about prosperity spells and you drum I chant “money, money, money, gimme, gimme, gimme” type of invokation. This little article is my own thoughts on how we in the Pagan community can respond to the current economic hard times, and at the same time, strengthen our own ties of community.
I am inspired to write on this topic, in part, by an article at The Wild Hunt on how one Pagan in Iceland has been responding to that country’s economic collapse with civil protest and increasingly strident calls to action.
In part it also just seems to me as if we, as a community, haven’t really been talking about this. I say this as someone who is a self-confessed blog-a-holic, a member of multiple yahoo-groups, and an avid surfer of the Internet, and who is not all that hard to track down either in his local community or by friends nationwide. I’ve seen some small mention of individual challenges and responses to the hard times we are in, but nowhere have I seen discussions of how we as a community can face and deal with these troubled times. I think it’s about time we started talking about this folks, cause the tough times are not going to go away overnight!
We need to build the economic self-sufficiency of our local, regional, and national Pagan communities! Time after time in the history of my beloved United States we have seen how the ethnic, sub-cultural, and religious communities that form up the patchwork quilt of our great nation have been able to strengthen the their communities and build their social ties, and their economic, and political power by concentrating money into community owned businesses.
I have seen this work within the Gay community.
In order to do this, we need to get better about communicating with one another. What do I mean? Well… how many Pagan businesses can you track down? Now before you start listing off every metaphysical book, candle, and tsotchke (sp?) shop within a hundred miles… can you name a local Pagan Doctor, Lawyer, Realtor, or Plumber, (non occult store) Business owner, or Yardwork company in your area? Why Not?
Now as a Gay man, I know I can go into most Gay community centers, or local gay bars and find some version of the local community directory. They are often jokingly called the “pink pages’ after the U.S. phone directories “yellow pages”. (do they have “yellow pages” in other contries?!)
Armed with this handy information I can find gay owned restaurants, bars, realtors (my people are all over the real estate and home remodeling market, go figure!), Gay or Gay-friendly doctors and therapists, Lawers, Yard work companies and GLBT owned or friendly establishments of every kind. I have never seen or heard of such a thing in the Pagan community! Why not?
Now before some of the naysayers strike, don’t be afraid to spread the word within the community if Joe the Pagan Plumber does shoddy work or rips you off; but also do not hesitate to hire him if he does good work!
Another thing some of the naysayers out there may be muttering even as you read this is, ‘well doesn’t this just open us up to fundamentalist attack or religious discrimination?’ Well, in my experience most of the bigots are not going to go into a Gay bar to pick up the ‘pink pages’, and I have never heard of a business being targeted by a church or hate group for their advertising to the GLBT community; so I have a hard time imagining that the Pagan community would have any more trouble than the GLBT folks.
So now that we are starting to find one another, how can we build economic self sufficiency? Let us start reaching out to one another, let us share what great or little good fortune we may have with others in our community.
Need a lawn mowed but just don’t have the time? Find a Pagan Lawn Service, or local Pagan in need, to do it!
Do you go out to eat anymore? Find out which Pagans in your community are Servers and frequent their restaurants and ask to sit in their section!
Are any of the Pagans in your area business owners? If theirs is a type of business you might frequent, then do so!
What about knowing that there are employers friendly to Pagans as employees or customers? Shop there! Maybe during Pagan Pride Month you could go and drop off a note thanking the business for their progressive policies and attitudes and letting them know that because of them you make a point of spending your Pagan dollar with them!
Then there is the question of our Pagan dollar’s power for good. How often have you, or your Grove or Circle or Community Group given money to charity in the name of the Pagan community? Or donated food? Next time maybe you can look for specifically Pagan run Charities or Food Banks or Scholarships.
Maybe you could even look into starting one.
The more we in the Pagan community can support our own, the more success our Pagan business people and Pagan Professionals have, the more we improve the economic and educational opportunities of our fellow Pagans, the stronger and more self-sustaining our community will be.