Practical Distributism

102 Just Actions that support economic justice, social peace, and world harmony.

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Distributism is an economic philosophy rooted in the social justice teachings of the Catholic Church, popularized earlier this century by writers such as G.K. Chesterton, H. Belloc, Dorothy Day and the early Catholic Workers. The purpose of this page is to suggest ideas for actions that encourage economic justice and social harmony and peace. The page is called "Practical Distributism" because its emphasis is on doing ("praxis", as the theologians would say), rather than theory. For a more theoretical treatment of the issue, see Distributism: alternative to the brutal global market , by Mark and Louise Zwick of the Houston Catholic Worker, and the Justpeace Distributism Page .

This list contains suggestions, not mandates. It is provided to help people look at their own situation and discern practical ways that they can help build a more just future for themselves, their families, their communities, and their nation. Note that I am not saying that Distributism is identical with Roman Catholicism, although many of its leading exponents have been Catholic. A distributist community could be rooted in any religious or moral faith, but morality is certainly essential. Readers who are not Catholic can obviously adapt these suggestions to their own faith tradition. Building a just community is of necessity an ecumenical journey.

Electronically published for the greater glory of God, on the memorial of Our Lady of the Snows, AD 2000.

1. Join or start a neighborhood association.

2. Bank with a credit union.

3. Patronize locally owned stores, microenterprises, co-operatives, and worker owned businesses.

4. Grow some of your own food.

5. Eat with the season.

6. Patronize a farmers' market, or purchase food directly from farmers/producers.

7. Form or join a housing cooperative.

8. Build a meeting hall.

9. Support local currencies.

10. Avoid corporation-debt (borrow from credit unions).

11. Home school.

12. Support a community garden.

13. Avoid commodified entertainment in favor of personalist entertainment such as local baseball, picnics, dances, social events, quilting bees, fairs, etc.

14. Support live music by listening and by making your own music.

15. Create your own job, or join with others to create a cooperative or worker owned business.

16. Organize an employee association at your work.

17. Start moving towards alternative, non-centrally generated power.

18. Write letters to the editors of secular and religious publications.

19. Write letters to politicians.

20. Volunteer at a homeless shelter.

21. Live in a Catholic Worker house. (Or start one.)

22. Invite a poor family to move in with you.

23. Reuse, recycle, reduce. Waste not, want not.

24. Spend your money wisely, prudently, and intentionally.

25. Adopt children.

26. Sponsor children and the elderly in the overseas missions.

27. Give food to a food bank or St. Vincent de Paul circle, or other program that feeds the poor.

28. Donate generously and sacrificially to the Catholic Campaign for Human Development and Operation Rice Bowl of Catholic Relief Services.

29. Shop at flea markets, swap meets, and garage sales.

30. Join a food co-op.

31.Keep extra food on hand (typically, 2-4 months, this supports frugal shopping and household management)

32. Read the newspaper intentionally -- with open eyes, ears, spirit, mind.

33. Start a justice and peace commission at your church, or join an existing one.

34. Visit those in prison and their families.

34. Plant trees.

35. Talk about distributism, justice, and peace (a lot).

36. Learn about justice and peace. Study and pray over (lectio divina) the "social justice canon"of magisterial teachings.

37. Get involved with a mentoring program such as Big Brothers/Sisters, or an after school tutoring program (or start one).

38. Teach people to read.

39. Register voters.

40. Teach English as a second language.

41. Pick up trash in public places and dispose of it properly.

42. Kill your TV, or at least, grievously wound it (apologies for the violent language). If you have a TV, don't watch it -- study it.

43. Teach logic and rhetoric and also (while you're at it) learn how to understand, interpret, and mediate modern mass communications, especially the nature and identification and purpose of propaganda, and then tell everyone everywhere what you have learned and how you learned it.

44. Ignore most advertising, or watch it "intentionally" for what it tells us about our communities. Teach your children to ignore most advertising. Encourage them to teach their friends to ignore most advertising.

45. Practice the theological virtues (faith, hope, love), the cardinal virtues (prudence, justice, fortitude, temperance), and the civic virtues (self-discipline, respect, cooperation, responsibility, honesty, motivation, friendship, courage, non-violence, work) so you eventually will get good at them. (Practice makes perfect. If you can't do perfect, do good. Then do better.)

46. Volunteer at a school, library, hospital, or agency/apostolate in service to the poor.

47. Tithe your time and your money (generously and sacrificially).

48. Give somebody without a car a ride.

49. Start a transportation co-operative (ride sharing, car pooling, kid picking up/delivering, etc.)

50. Avoid sweatshop clothing and products.

51. Pray the Rosary for economic justice and social peace and harmony.

52. Go to mass regularly and devoutly participate, receiving the Body and Blood of our Savior as spiritual sustenance, hearing the Real Presence of Christ in the proclamation of the Word, and fellow shipping with the Real Presence of Christ in the assembly gathered in that place.

53. Become a catechist of economic justice (distributism) and social peace and harmony.

54. Pray and publicly witness for life, beauty, and human dignity; offer practical and safe alternatives to those who feel they have no choice but to violate human life and dignity. Speak for those who have no voice or power. Respect life from the moment of conception to the time of natural death.

55. Distribute literature and information about economic justice and social peace and harmony.

56. Pray with lectio divina over the Holy Scriptures relating to justice and peace.

57. Practice kindness everywhere.

58. Make your own bread and teach others how to do this. Build an outdoor bread oven as a community project.

59. Move to a poor or working class neighborhood.

60. Give books to a library.

61. Donate stuff to thrift stores.

62. Make intelligent use of pre-evangelistic techniques and materials, i.e. advertising, bumper stickers, tracts, prayer cards, greeting cards, stickers, etc.)

63. Make friends with poor people; be a good neighbor to them.

64. Adopt voluntary poverty as a lifestyle. Seek a certain indifference about material things and a humble gratefulness for the bounty of Creation.

65. Help students apply for college/job training and help them navigate the financial aid process.

66. Help students with their homework. Provide educational opportunities.

67. Give fish as necessary, but also teach fishing. Help provide fishing gear and tackle, and build fish ponds.

68. Give a pregnant unmarried mother a home in your own home. Treat her as though she was your own daughter.

69. Avoid economic reductionism.

70. Support political initiatives that protect a place for the economic activity of poor people, such as allowing vending/food sales at highway rest stops, public stadium parking lots, sidewalks, lawns of public buildings, also deregulation of personal transportation for hire (so that poor people can operate cabs, jitneys and buses); home businesses, food delivery, garment-making, crafts, and other microenterprise endeavors. Necessary reforms include regulatory/zoning/tax relief, loan funds/access to credit, an end to urban policies that destroy poor and working class neighborhoods, hiring people who live in poor neighborhoods to work on community development initiatives in their neighborhoods.

71. Support affordable housing: oppose redevelopment and tax increment financing schemes, support Single Room Occupancy hotels, enact affordable housing building codes that allow for alternative (and less expensive) construction methods such as straw bale, rammed earth, COB, oppose fake privatization schemes that benefit corporate interests and destroy housing for the poor.

72. Produce a public access cable show or a video on economic justice and peace.

73. Give away cassette tapes on economic justice and social peace issues.

74. Don't give your kids toy guns.

75. Learn, practice, and teach non-violent conflict resolution alternatives.

76. Start a Catholic social justice publication, e-zine, list-serv, webzine, or website.

77. Tear up your credit and debit cards.

78. Learn to sew and teach others.

79. Practice a regular discipline of fasting and abstinence.

80. Teach people how to cook tasty, frugal, and nutritious meals. Prepare such food for your family and share it with others.

81. Be prepared for emergencies.

82. Avoid the television news except during emergencies.

83. Eat with your neighbors, regularly. Pot luck dinners provide immediate instant gratification for practicing distributism.

84. Compost.

85. Don't waste energy.

86. Support ballot access for minor parties.

87. Take in stray cats and dogs.

88. Join an intentional distributist community. (Or start one.)

89. Encourage your catechists, priests, and bishops to provide proper formation in social justice.

90. Create yard and neighborhood shrines.

91. Speak at government meetings.

92. Listen to and learn from elders. If you are an elder, share your wisdom and experience.

93. Call in to talk radio programs and discuss issues from the perspective of justice and peace.

94. Smile at people you meet and leave them with a blessing of peace.

95. Drive kindly.

96. Oppose corporate welfare.

97. Support debt forgiveness for poor countries.

98. Welcome legal and illegal immigrants with hospitality.

99. Include global concerns in your participation in justice and peace.

100. Help the Church be just in its actions and relationships, and to make its resources available to support distributive initiatives. E.g., encourage parishes and dioceses to purchase from microenterprises, to make church buildings available for food banks and shelters, and church properties available for community gardens. Encourage composting at all church properties. Advocate that dioceses and parishes make capital investments in distributism, such as building community canning kitchens.

101. Breast feed your babies.

102. Use cloth diapers.

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For information about our plans for adapting our"urban homestead" to meet the looming challenges of peak oil, climate instability, and economic irrationality, see Gatewood Urban Homestead, the permaculture design for our home.

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