Is Amazon Picking Winners and Losers Among America’s Cities? — Episode 121 of Building Local Power

Date: 4 Mar 2021 | posted in: Building Local Power, Retail | 0 Facebooktwitterredditmail

On this episode of Building Local Power, host Jess Del Fiacco and ILSR Co-Director Stacy Mitchell are joined by award-winning journalist Alec MacGillis to discuss his new book, Fulfillment: Winning and Losing in One-Click America. Their conversation focuses on how the shift toward online shopping — led by Amazon — has reshaped America. Highlights include: 

  • How this shift has reshaped jobs and physical landscapes around the country.
  • Amazon’s ever-growing influence on the Washington, D.C., metro area.
  • The troubling dynamic between local governments and Amazon, which often includes cities working on Amazon’s behalf. 
  • The social and political consequences of the dramatic — and growing — gulf between rich and poor places in the United States. 
  • Whether or not these changes are inevitable, and what elected officials can do to shape our economy’s future. 

“You’re unable to even talk about problems because the issues manifest themselves so differently in different parts of the country. And housing is the best example. It’s just surreal to be in cities where the housing debate is all about high cost and affordability… And then you go to other parts of the country where the housing problem is the absolute reverse, where it’s just a problem of depopulation and blight and abandonment…. The most extreme or clearest example, of course, of this incomprehensibility to each other, is what’s happened in our politics, in our electoral politics, these last few years.”

Jess Del Fiacco: Hello, and welcome to Building Local Power, a podcast, dedicated to thought provoking conversations about how we can challenge corporate monopolies and expand the power of people to shape their own future. I’m Jess Del Fiacco, the host of Building Local Power and communications manager here at the Institute for local self-reliance. For more than 45 years, ILSR has worked to build thriving, equitable communities where power, wealth, and accountability remained in local hands. In today’s episode we’re going to talk about how a shift towards online shopping, which was led in part by Amazon has reshaped our country.
Jess Del Fiacco: I’m here with my colleague, Stacy Mitchell, the co-director of ILSR, and joining us is the award-winning journalist Alec MacGillis whose work has appeared in the New Yorker, the New York Times, and many other places. Alec has a new book out, which is called Fulfillment, Winning and Losing in One-Click America. Welcome to the show. Alec, we’re happy to have you here.
Alec MacGillis: Thanks for having me.
Jess Del Fiacco: Could you just tell us a little bit about this book and why did you decide to write it?
Alec MacGillis: This book has been in the works for a long time, and it’s really goes back many years to my upbringing in Pittsfield, Massachusetts, small city in Western mass. That’s gone through a really hard time after it lost General Electric and just becoming more and more worried about the huge gap, growing gap between places in America, places that all these towns and cities that really have been kind of left behind, even as you had these pockets, these other cities that were growing just more and more wealthy, more and more concentrated in their prosperity and watching this happening as I was about 10 or 12 years ago out on the road, a lot reporting as a political reporter for The Washington Post and going out to towns in Ohio or Wisconsin all over the country. And then coming back to Washington and Metro Washington, as it was becoming more and more intensely wealthy and kind of complacent in its wealth.
Alec MacGillis: And this is around the time of the great recession, 2009, ’10, when you could barely even see the great recession hitting in Metro Washington and seeing this divide growing ever wider between places and being really bothered by it and really worried about it, and also surprised that more people weren’t talking about it. And then Trump gets elected in 16, which obviously had quite a lot to do with that issue of regional disparities. And then I decided I need to write about this. I need to write a big book about this. And then after quite a lot of thought, I decided to come at it from the lens of Amazon, using Amazon as the framework onto this problem. And that’s how I got going on it.
Jess Del Fiacco: You do this really on the ground reporting for the book. And so the book is the reporting for my, I think it’s about eight or 10 different places. Can you just talk about one of the places that you spend some time and what you saw there?
Alec MacGillis: Sure. I did decide to zero in on a relatively small handful of places because I really wanted to be able to go deep into places. And I settled on essentially two winner cities, winner take all cities being namely Seattle and Washington DC. And just as an aside, I actually picked Washington DC before it was chosen as HQ2 for Amazon. That was kind of serendipitous. But then the left behind places that I chose were various communities in Ohio where I’ve spent a lot of time as a reporter, mostly the Dayton area in Southwest Ohio, and then the small towns of Appalachian Ohio in the Southeast and then Baltimore, Baltimore is the other kind of left behind city. And Baltimore really is in a sense the kind of heart of the book, the Baltimore Washington divide is something that I’ve seen growing this last 20 years now I’ve lived in either, in the Baltimore Washington area and I’ve kind of gone back and forth between the two places.
Alec MacGillis: And it’s just been so jarring to watch how, why the divide between the two cities that used to be much closer and sort of size and prosperity and have now just grown light years apart to the point where you cannot believe that it’s just 40 miles, you go from one to the other and it’s, you feel almost the kind of vertigo because the gap is just, it’s so large. And it was really watching that gap grow this last decade or two, that drove me more than anything to want to take on this book. But Baltimore itself offers a very powerful story for the theme of Amazon and what’s happened to the country, because Baltimore has now several large fulfillment warehouses.
Alec MacGillis: And one of them is, a newer of them is located in this incredibly important place, which is namely the peninsula called Sparrow’s point. That’s just on the off the Southeastern edge of the city down in the water. And it was for many, for most of the last century home to what was for time, the largest steel plant in America and in the world in fact. About 30,000 workers at its peak entire company town of five or 6,000 people with a whole grid of streets and a downtown and the entire company town landscape, and just this enormous skyline of industrial might down there on the water. And in a place where once they got the unions in the 40s and 50s, someone can make a really good living in the mill and thousands did.
Alec MacGillis: It was very dangerous work and very strenuous work, but it was also very purposeful and meaningful work with great camaraderie and great longevity, people spent their whole careers there. And finally went out of business in the first decade of this century, bit by bit. That mill and the entire town have now been wiped completely clear from this peninsula. It’s just astonishing. You go down there and it’s all gone. Although, when your GPS still picks up the old street names, it’s very eerie for driving sort of on the, it’s almost like a Tundra, you’re driving out there and your … and it still calls out A street, B street, C street, but it’s all gone. And in its place now, or the warehouses, it’s a big logistics hub, and Amazon’s got the biggest one there. And I actually found a man who had worked for 30 years at Beth steel, making those good wages and who then after it went under, ended up getting a job, driving a forklift at Amazon, making a third of what he was making at Beth steel and leading a much less sort of purposeful existence on his job.
Alec MacGillis: And to me, that transformation of the place from this manufacturing, where people were making things and making good money while making them and living a life of some real purpose and dignity to now in that exact same place, making a third as much, picking and packing things that have been made halfway around the world with almost no interactions with their coworkers. That to me was just such a telling shift and it really kind of forms the spiritual heart of the book.
Stacy Mitchell: Can I ask why Amazon? I mean, especially compared to how other tech companies may be, I’ve had a hand in this change, even in the DC area, how does their influence differ from other powerful companies, either politically or just geographically, how they’ve reshaped the landscape?
Alec MacGillis: It’s a very good question. I decided to come at this book with an Amazon frame for two reasons. One was that Amazon is a driver of this problem of regional inequality, regional divergence between winner take all cities and left behind places much in the same way as other tech giants. What’s happening essentially right now is that as certain markets get more concentrated, so does regional wealth. So take the example of my business, my industry media used to have [inaudible 00:08:25] spread all over newspapers, TV, radio, getting along with ad revenue, into places where they operated now as more and more ad revenue is absorbed by Google and Facebook. What is it now? 60% or so of all ad revenue goes to those two companies, all that revenue essentially is kind of just sucked to the places, the place where they are, which is, in their case, the Bay area, Silicon Valley.
Alec MacGillis: You end up with this dystopian level of wealth and inequality in the Bay area while all these news papers and other news media outlets around the country suffer mightily. And that’s sort of how the economic concentration leads into this kind of regional disparity. You see the same thing happening with Amazon and in retail, we’re all this retail business, retail revenue that used to be dispersed broadly around the country is now more and more drawn into this one company that is based in this one place. And so we ended up with this just incredible wealth, hyper prosperity in Seattle, in the few other places where they’ve got their white collar business. But the other reason I chose Amazon in addition to its being a contributor to this problem, a driver of this problem, like the other tech giants, the reason I chose it and not those other companies, is that it’s just a useful thread to take one around the country because it’s actually present all around the country in a way that the other tech giants are not. It’s present in a very physical way, right?
Alec MacGillis: You have these warehouses, more and more of them. You have the trucks that are just ubiquitous to the point of it being eerie. Like the day that I sent off my book, I had a truck that pulled up outside for one neighbor just an hour ago, another truck pulled upside outside the other window for another neighbor. I mean, just it’s constant, right? There’s this ubiquity of the warehouses, the trucks, the data centers, just all the different physical manifestations of this company in the landscape in a way that the other tech giants lack, they’re more sort of in the ether, they’re affecting your life in all sorts of other ways. But it’s less in the landscape. And so Amazon just offered more of an actual, physical thread to take you around the country. And the way I like to talk, describe it as that Amazon, this book is not so much about the company itself, but it’s about what, everything that falls within the shadow of the company, because this company actually does cast a shadow. It’s that physical.
Jess Del Fiacco: One of the places that’s so striking, I mean, in the book is Washington DC. The other end of the spectrum from Baltimore, from some of the places that you covered in Ohio, Amazon’s footprint is everywhere in DC, both visibly, but also invisibly. And that’s a city, as you noted has grown so much more wealthy. Do you think DC is starting to feel like a, I mean, is it a company town at this point. Talk a little bit about what you’re seeing in terms of Amazon’s influence there?
Alec MacGillis: It’s extraordinary. I mean, you just can’t overstate it and I’d feel like this story has been missed, to be honest. And one reason it’s maybe been missed let’s face it is that the very good newspaper in a city, it’s a city that’s still has a really, really strong newspaper that could tell a story, but newspaper is owned by Jeff Bezos. And that does pose a very basic existential problem there. But the reason I chose Washington as my second kind of winner take all city alongside Seattle, even before HQ2 was cited there, is that it was already apparent just how much Amazon and Bezos were taking over the town. He bought the newspaper, he then bought the … by far the most valuable home in a city former museum that is bought for $23 million in cash, and then spent another 12 million to renovate.
Alec MacGillis: And then to create salon space where you could have big Katherine Graham style parties. The company of course, is hugely ramped up. It’s lobbying at least as much as the other tech giants in town. It also just has a massive presence now through its cloud operations, which AWS has been so aggressive in seeking government contracts, got the big CIA contract a few years ago, came very close to getting the big Pentagon contract. Has a big convention there every year, the public sector conference, where you’ve just got thousands of people coming in to try to get the cloud business, the growing cloud business and government. And then on top of that, you got HQ2 with a company choosing Arlington, Crystal City for the next headquarters, 25,000 jobs, just massive investment capped off with this crazy looking building.
Alec MacGillis: You end up with just this enormous presence. And yes, on the one hand they’re coming there, partly because DC now has a very highly educated workforce where you have a lot of the kinds of people that you can poach for jobs at HQ2, people working out in those tech contractors out on your way out to Dallas airport and all those kinds of glass boxes that you see when you’re driving around the beltway. You’ve got that whole workforce there that you can draw off of for the next headquarters, but let’s face it. The other reason that they chose Washington to build this enormous presence is that Washington is home to the federal government. And if you’re a company as dominant as Amazon is now, in a sense you have less to fear from other corporate rivals than you do from possible intervention by the government.
Alec MacGillis: And the best way to head that off is just to be very big in Washington, not only for more sort of, for the kind of cruder aspects of influence wielding, but just in soft power ways. You’re more likely to have a complacent, benign notion of Amazon if the guy lives next door to you, or on sidelines of your daughter’s soccer game is an Amazon guy working down in Arlington who seems like a nice enough guy, nothing, much to worry about there. That’s what’s happening in Washington. It’s a takeover of that city by this one company that really has not been fully appreciated yet. And the book really tried to capture that.
Jess Del Fiacco: Follow-up question on that, as a journalist, what do you think about the Washington Post? Do you think that they pull their punches on Amazon?
Alec MacGillis: I’ve thought a lot about this and I have to be careful how I think about it and talk about it. Because I worked at the Washington Post myself for five or six years before Amazon came to town and I have many friends and they are still who work hard and are very good at what they do. And when they tell me that they never have to worry about Bezos calling them and requesting, or trying to squash a story, I believe them. And it’s not really about that. It’s about the stories you never even set out to do the self-censoring that you do, because it’s just such a existential problem that you are owned by this man. What I’ve noticed in particular ways is that the papers is quite aggressive in doing stories about Amazon as a business in Seattle, as a … they’ll do stories about counterfeit sales on the site or the other problems with Amazon, the business, kind of technical stories, but the story of Amazon’s power in Washington and its takeover of Washington, that is the story that it still hasn’t really been told in full.
Alec MacGillis: And if there were another company that was doing this, this would be in the Washington Post wheelhouse, and this is what they live for. When I was at the paper, they were doing all sorts of stories about these huge contractors who were getting these massive contracts and maybe screwing up the contracts or wasting the money and SCIC and these various beltway bandit type companies. And now we have this company that’s operating on an even vaster scale and wielding influence and getting contracts in Washington. And now actually becoming the biggest private sector employer in Washington and in transforming an entire inner suburb of the city. And that’s not being told, the story is not being told at the level that it needs to be told.
Jess Del Fiacco: We’ll continue with our conversation in just a moment, but first we’re going to take a short break. Thanks for listening to Building Local Power. I hope you’re enjoying the show. And I hope that if you care about supporting the workers and small businesses impacted by Amazon, that you’ll consider heading over to to help support our work. Any amount is sincerely appreciated. Now we can turn back to my conversation with Stacy Mitchell and Alec McGillis, who’s the author of the new book Fulfillment.
Jess Del Fiacco: In the book you write about how these changes, I mean, this widening divide between the winner and losing, winner cities, loser cities has basically made some parts of our country incomprehensible to other parts of it. Can you talk about the consequences of that?
Alec MacGillis: It really is one of the reasons I’ve gotten so worried about these divides, because you end up with these bubbles. I mean, they really are bubbles. And I realized just how bad the problem has gotten because I moved between them a lot. I tend to sort of, I’ve spent all those years working in the Washington media bubble, surrounded by all this prosperity and complacency. And then I would go out to these places a lot for my work that we’re doing much, much worse. And you see how you’re unable to even talk about problems because the issues manifest themselves so differently in different parts of the country. And housing is the best example. It’s just surreal to be in cities where the housing debate is all about high cost and affordability, and whether one should build more supply or cap rents with rent control that whole debate about supply versus limits.
Alec MacGillis: And then you go to other parts of the country where you just have with housing problem is the absolute reverse, where it’s just a problem of depopulation and blight and abandonment. I find it deeply frustrating because in fact, the problem in both places would be partially ameliorated if we had less inequality, regional inequality to begin with. We would have far less extreme affordability problem and housing crisis in our winner take all cities. If we did not have as much wealth concentrated in them, but we don’t think about it that way. We’re in our one bubble and we’re not thinking about what’s happening over here and how much better off we’d be if there was just more of a balance across the board, but then the most extreme or clearest example of course, of this incomprehensibility to each other is what’s happened in our politics, in our electoral politics these last few years.
Alec MacGillis: Where you end up with such extreme divergence that the person in the other place does become an utter stranger to you. And it is a source of such resentment. There’s this whole debate about how much economic resentment, how much of a role it played in Trump’s election in 2016 versus racism and xenophobia and misogyny in the … Where I’ve increasingly come down on this, is that there absolutely, they’re completely inextricably linked that it’s not one or the other. It’s the fact of the one making people more vulnerable to the other and likely to be susceptible to the other. It’s the growing economic resentment, seeing these other parts of the country that have just sucked in so much of the nation’s wealth and that resentment, then making one more open to really ugly appeals. They’re all bound up together.
Jess Del Fiacco: Yeah, I think that’s so true. I find, it’s hard to wrestle with. The democratic party has traditionally been the party, at least in the last a 100 years of economic justice, but many of the winner cities that are really prospering are places that we think of as very progressive. Cities like Seattle and DC, which feature heavily in your book. They’re some of the bluest places in the country. They’re also increasingly some of the wealthiest places in the country, their home to a lot of democratic party voters, but you write about how they’re progressivism and they’re extreme wealth are increasingly at odds with one another. And you had this line in the book about hyper prosperity was not only creating the side effects of unaffordability and homelessness, but injecting a political poison into the winner cities. Can you talk about what you mean by that and you just where this dynamic in these prosperous places and supposedly progressive places is going okay?
Alec MacGillis: Yeah. It’s a huge problem for the Democrats. I mean, you really have, now the party has become increasingly a party dominated by upper-middle-class highly educated professionals and they’re living in these winner cities and there’s a lot of denial on the democratic side about the extent to which this is happening, but it just is, if you look at the numbers, it’s right there. It’s really an existential issue for the party, because it has, of course, historically been in the party of the underdog. And so what happens now, if it is increasingly a party that is identifies with and is dominated by very high earning, very highly educated professionals in these cities that are fabulously wealthy. And one of the awkward aspects of this is what you see within some of these cities themselves. And the line you quoted comes from Seattle, where you’ve had in the last couple years, this really sad turn to a ugliness in the local politics, politics that are in general, of course, very progressive as regards Donald Trump or any other national issue.
Alec MacGillis: But locally you’ve had this big debate around the housing and homelessness crisis and attempts to address it partly by raising money in the form of higher taxes on Amazon and other big employers in Seattle to pay for more housing and homelessness services. And what happened in Seattle was that not only did Amazon manage to launch a very effective lobbying campaign to push back a new law that had passed to raise money, a new tax that had passed to raise money to address this terrible problem. But you also had a general turn within the electorate itself. It turned against these efforts, a fear that that raising money to address homelessness would A, end up simply wasting taxpayer dollars, wasting these companies dollars. And at the most kind of visceral getting affordable housing built on your own block in your own neighborhood, a real basic nimbyism reaction.
Alec MacGillis: And Amazon was so successful in beating back this tax because it actually had quite a lot of allies in the local allegedly progressive electorate. People who just came to see any kind of government spending government attempts to address this problem as wasteful and doomed to fail. It was almost a tea party at the local level, liberal version of that antigovernment strain. And it revealed something in the local quote, progressive landscape that a lot of people found very disconcerting. And you see versions of that in all sorts of different wealthy, allegedly progressive blue cities around the country. And it’s not pretty.
Alec MacGillis: The big question away is whether the democratic party can sustain itself as what is essentially becoming a coalition of, it sounds a little bit harsh, but it’s the coalition of people who, wealthy upper middle class people, who buy a lot of stuff online. And then on the one hand, and then the people who package and deliver those things for them. That is that’s increasingly what the democratic party is becoming. The highly educated elite coupled with that’s, of course, mostly white professional lead coupled with still very strong support among black and Hispanic voters, working class voters, in these cities that as we saw just last fall, that that coalition was already showed some signs of cracking. You saw Donald Trump of all people make some inroads with working class Hispanic voters, and even to a lesser degree with black men, but that’s the coalition the Democrats are now trying to hold together. It’s very unwieldy. We’ll see if it can sustain itself.
Stacy Mitchell: That’s so true. If looking at the last year quite literal, I mean, there’s those of us who have been able to stay home and order things online and have them delivered to us. And then there’s the people who are doing that delivering just really couldn’t be, it might be harsh, but it couldn’t be more obvious in my mind. And then I think just another piece of this, you took a really close look at the dynamic that exists now between local governments and Amazon, which in many cases seems to kind of result in these cities most working on Amazon’s behalf. Could you talk a little bit about that and specifically the inside look that you got into this relationship in El Paso?
Alec MacGillis: Yeah. I tried to do some real, I’m an investigative reporter at heart and I saw it. The book does have quite a lot of digging and muckraking, I did a lot of public information requests and did sloughing ground in the country. And managed to get quite a lot of good material. I thought pretty eyeopening material on the whole game of Amazon trying to get tax credits and tax subsidies to open up these warehouses and data centers, places that are desperate for any kind of investment at all. And so I managed to get some nice little behind the … pulling back the curtain on some of those communications between the company and the towns around those subsidies. And then I went down to El Paso to do a whole chapter on, essentially the fight by a group of small business owners in this case office supply dealers to survive against the Amazon threat. And the Amazon threat in El Paso, like a lot of places had a lot to do with the complicity of local governments in making Amazon their main supplier for all manner of procurement, all manner of basic goods of government.
Alec MacGillis: And you have these office supply dealers in El Paso, these are companies with 10 or 20 people at most typically who’ve been getting by over the years by selling their goods, both to local businesses, local accountants or lawyers, and to local governments and school districts. And you then had the Amazon suddenly coming to the picture and making an aggressive pitch to the local governments and in school districts to simply start buying from Amazon instead. The Amazon directly saying, “Hey, look, why not just use us? You use us for everything else in your life, so why not just use us for your government procurement as well?” Oh, don’t worry about those local businesses that you’ve been buying from all these years. You can still buy from them online.
Alec MacGillis: We’ll just set them up on our site and you can just make your one click from them there, it’ll all just be much easier for everyone. Well, what’s of course left out of that pitch. That happy picture is that when the sale goes through Amazon, as the middleman, Amazon takes a large cut, basically anywhere from 15 to 30%, depending on how many services the local business feels that they need to buy from Amazon to be able to survive. And so I went down there and not only managed to talk to the businesses about this pressure that they were under, and this fight that they’ve been waging, but also managed to get again, to get lot of emails back and forth between Amazon and the El Paso city government. And I managed to actually slip into a session at the convention center in El Paso, where some very high level Amazon executives were directly pressuring the local business owners to come on to the website to start selling through Amazon instead of directly to their local purchasers, and sort of got to see how that actually happens.
Alec MacGillis: And it was a really remarkable moment to see them making this very happy pitch to the business owners, while withholding until the very last moment, just how much it was going to cost them to come on to Amazon. Basically only conceding under the duress of questioning for one particular persistent local business owner that it was actually in cost them quite a bit to start working within the Amazon empire.
Jess Del Fiacco: That chapter, that whole scene, just made my blood boil. Just the fact that this city not only sort of entering into this contract, but set up this whole event, very much on Amazon’s terms, just absolutely infuriated me. One of the things that I think, in the book is it’s just so excellent. It’s really one of the best books I read in a long time. And I hope everyone will pick up a copy because it’s really deeply engaging. And it’s really told from the standpoint of people that you talk with across the country and these places and these events that you attend. I think like what it also does really well is just show that all of these things are product of deliberate decision.
Jess Del Fiacco: I think one of the things we’ve been brainwashed into this idea that these forces are outside of our control and that growing problems in our economy are owed to globalization or these other things that we can’t control and that are the product of decisions. I’m curious on the one hand, I think there is some better recognition of the fact that there are decisions being made, but there’s also, there’s a lot of resignation out there and there’s a lot of resignation in the book. And I’m curious since you started this project, if you have, are you feeling more hopeful or less hopeful? What do you see on the horizon?
Alec MacGillis: Boy. For starters, I’m glad that you’ve identified that turn toward, that I see a lot, and I’m really kind of frustrated by this notion that, well, these things are unfortunate, but these are all just the bigger structural forces and what can you do about it? That was actually pretty much exactly the argument that I got back from Amazon itself. I, of course, reached out to the company, spoke with them quite a lot, and their basic defense for all this boils to, look bigger, things are happening in the economy, they have been for a long time. The rise of online shopping, what’s going to happen no matter what. We just happened to be the ones who were here at this moment, if it wasn’t us, it’d be someone else. With that kind of talk overlooks is that there were specific things that the company’s done, specific ways it’s behave, specific choices it’s made that have made things as extreme as they are, whether it’s on the tax avoidance game or where to site its headquarters or how it treats its workers.
Alec MacGillis: These are all things in which the company does have agency. And I think it’s important never to lose sight of that. I should also say that this is something that this is a realm where we’re all of us have agency. I do believe that all of us, as consumers and as citizens do have a say in this matter, and I find it depressing when people throw up their hands and make it all about the larger structural systemic contexts in which our world is now. No, we still have choices about how we live our lives and where we, not just where we shop, but how in all the different matters of our life, sort of how much we engage with the world around us and resist the turn to the one-click life.
Alec MacGillis: And in that regard, this last year has been really, really tough to watch. It has gotten so much worse that that inward turn, the fact that people now had, in a sense, an excuse to turn inward and to live the one-click life. Before that was something that was attached to some, for at least some of us came with some sense of … shame is probably too strong of a word, but some sense of stigma that we shouldn’t be just buying everything online and leaving our local communities bereft. But with a pandemic, it was a way of living that almost became attached to a sort of self-righteousness by doing everything online, we were just being, doing the safe thing. We were flattening the curve, bending the curve, we were just doing what the public health experts told us to.
Alec MacGillis: And that was true to a certain extent for a certain time, spirit of time. But I do worry that even as we hopefully come out of this relatively soon, that those habits that were accelerated and exacerbated and intensified are going to stay with us to a great degree, that a hole that we just have a really at risk of forgetting what it’s like to actually be out in the world around us. To be connected to people. And perhaps we even find that when we go out, if we do venture out, back into the world, that a lot of the places that we used to go to are actually gone now, because we left them adrift and bereft for a year, and that’s something great we’ll have been lost. And I worry about that a lot. And I do think we all have a role to play and in making sure that we re-engage.
Stacy Mitchell: I do think that’s a really good place to wrap up this conversation, but I will just say, thank you so much for joining us today and reiterate that everyone should check out this book. We will definitely have it linked in the show notes for this episode on our website. Yeah. I’ll hand it back over to you guys.
Jess Del Fiacco: Yeah, thank you so much, Alec. It really is just a terrific piece of work, and I hope everyone picks up a copy.
Alec MacGillis: Thank you. I hope so too.
Jess Del Fiacco: Thank you for tuning into this episode of the Building Local Power podcast from the Institute for local self-reliance. You can find links to what we discussed today by going to and clicking on the show page for this episode. That’s While you’re there, you can sign up for one of our many newsletters and connect with us on social media. We’ll be also take the opportunity to help us out with a gift that helps produce this very podcast and supports the research and resources we make available for free on our website. Finally, we ask that you let us know how we’re doing with a rating or review on Apple podcasts or wherever you find your podcasts. This show is produced by me, Jess Del Fiacco and edited by Drew Birschbach. Our theme music is Funk Interlude by Dysfunction_Al. For the Institute for local self-reliance, I’m Jess Del Fiacco. And I hope to join us again in two weeks for the next episode of Building Local Power.


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