Upstream: Economics for Transition-logo

Upstream: Economics for Transition


Upstream is a show about economics that might make economists anxious. Through the perspectives of visionaries and leaders of global movements, we explore stories from the frontiers of alternative paradigms. Blurring the lines between economics and our daily lives, Upstream invites listeners on a journey to the heart of things.

Upstream is a show about economics that might make economists anxious. Through the perspectives of visionaries and leaders of global movements, we explore stories from the frontiers of alternative paradigms. Blurring the lines between economics and our daily lives, Upstream invites listeners on a journey to the heart of things.


United States


Upstream is a show about economics that might make economists anxious. Through the perspectives of visionaries and leaders of global movements, we explore stories from the frontiers of alternative paradigms. Blurring the lines between economics and our daily lives, Upstream invites listeners on a journey to the heart of things.






Extinction Rebellion's Gail Bradbrook (In Conversation)

In recent months, thousands of people from coast to coast have confronted politicians and asked them to take action on climate change. Few of these political leaders seem to be listening, however, and so, in the face of this inaction, and with a renewed sense of urgency, people of all ages and backgrounds have begun taking directly to the streets and participating in mass disruption events in the United States and beyond. Extinction Rebellion (XR) is on the forefront of these actions. XR is...


Robin McKenna - Gift Economies (In Conversation)

What do an indigenous ceremony in Canada, Burning Man, and an occupied salami factory in Rome have in common? They are all expressions of the gift economy featured in a new documentary by Robin McKenna, the guest of this Upstream conversation. Robin McKenna has worked in film for twenty years on several projects, including The Take with Naomi Klein (a film about workers who take over the means of production in Argentina in the wake of an economic collapse). Drawing inspiration from Lewis...


Helena Norberg-Hodge — Is Localization a Solution to the Crisis of Capitalism? (In Conversation)

It's often said that the economic system is rigged. The truth, however, is that the system is working exactly as it was designed to. Those in power, whether they hold public office or whether they sit in the boardroom of a multi-billion dollar international corporation, have taken great lengths to set up a system of rules that benefit them and maintain the status quo. Helena Norberg-Hodge, a pioneer of the New Economics movement, has spent many years studying the driving forces behind why...


Keith A. Spencer - A People's History of Silicon Valley (In Conversation)

The dark shadow of Silicon Valley is growing longer everyday, covering more and more of the globe and spreading not just technology, but a particular value set as well. By this time many know about the hyper-exploitative business models of companies like Uber or TaskRabbit. Or about how AirBnB has heavily reduced housing stocks in cities worldwide. But in his new book, Keith A. Spencer goes further than just picking on a few high profile companies. He lays out an argument for why Silicon...


Ep 8.2: Worker Cooperatives — Islands within a Sea of Capitalism

In the second episode of the series on worker cooperatives, we build on the conversation that we began in Episode one, which explored how cooperatives can serve as a force to widen the spheres of democracy in our society. This second episode shifts the focus outward, exploring how cooperatives confront global capitalism. "Islands within a Sea of Capitalism" takes a deep dive into the Mondragon Cooperative Corporation—the largest network of federated cooperatives in the world. We take...


Ep 8.1: Worker Cooperatives — Widening Spheres of Democracy

The 21st century has seen an explosion in Worker Cooperatives—particularly since capitalism's 2008 crisis. In Part 1 of this 2-part series, we'll explore how worker co-ops present a radically different kind of ownership and management structure—one that has the power to bring democracy into the workplace and into the economy as a whole. We'll take a deep dive into the cooperatively owned and run bike/skate shop Rich City Rides, exploring how they have created a community hub that puts racial...


Lisi Krall - How Agriculture Turned Humanity into a Superorganism (In Conversation)

For the last 150,000 or so years of human evolution, not a whole lot changed. That is, until about 10,000 years ago, when in the blink of an eye we began organizing societies in very, very different ways. We went from small bands of hunter-gatherers to massive state societies; from having a relatively low ecological impact to devastating the natural environments we existed in; from relatively horizontal organization to extreme hierarchy and finely articulated division of labor. These now...


Alex Vitale - The End of Policing (In Conversation)

In this Upstream Conversation we spoke with author Alex S. Vitale about his new book, “The End of Policing,” which was published by Verso Books on October 10th, 2017. Alex Vitale’s work is based on a deep examination and structural critique of the fundamental nature of policing. Vitale stresses that it’s not enough to enact superficial reforms to a system of policing which was, at its core, designed to maintain systems of oppression and inequality. Vitale argues that instead of our current...


Ep 7.2: Universal Basic Income - A Bridge Towards Post-Capitalism?

It has been said that it’s easier to imagine the end of the world than to imagine the end of capitalism. That might have been true a decade ago, but today, the end of capitalism is becoming more and more plausible — at times it feels inevitable. In fact, at least half of Americans think that capitalism is a fundamentally unfair system, and over a third have a positive view of socialism. These numbers are rather strange for a society where just uttering the word “socialist” in public a...


Ep 7.1: Universal Basic Income - An Idea Whose Time Has Come?

What if you were paid just for being alive? Just imagine, you are given a check every month for the rest of your life, enough to cover all of your basic needs. You wouldn’t be driving around in a Ferrari or eating avocado toast every day, but you’d be receiving enough to live relatively comfortably. And there’s absolutely nothing you would have to do in order to receive it. How would that change your life? What would you do differently? Close your eyes and just try to picture that for a...


Jason Hickel: The Divide (In Conversation)

In this Upstream Conversation we spoke with Jason Hickel, an anthropologist formerly at the London School of Economics and now at Goldsmiths University of London. Originally from Swaziland, Jason's research has focused on a critique of development and globalization. He has also written on the topics of inequality, climate change, basic income, and soil regeneration. Jason argues that we cannot begin to seriously tackle the climate crisis until we take a hard look at the growth-dependent...


Ep 6: Beer - Crafting a Better Economy

Once an important life-force of early civilization and an ancient crafter of community, beer was, like many things under our current economic system, disfigured and twisted by the forces of the market and the drive for profit. In this episode, we take a close look at this story, starting in ancient Mesopotamia and tracing the history of beer up through the giant consolidations of the 20th century to the birth of the craft beer revolution in the 1970s and 80s. Brew expert and award-winning...


Kate Raworth: Doughnut Economics (In Conversation)

When you think about economics, what images come to mind? Maybe a supply and demand graph? Or a blackboard with complex equations scrawled across it? These images are based on a 19th century view of economics, one that is outdated and even dangerous, as we're beginning to see more and more. In this Upstream Conversation, we explore why the economy should look more like a doughnut. In her new book, Doughnut Economics, renegade economist Kate Raworth explains why it's time to explore new...


Ep 5: The Call For A New Economy

Bellowing out in the songs of eco-village choirs and reverberating down city streets through the chants of the 99%, the call for a new economy echoes out over the dying gasps of late capitalism. From energy co-operatives in Spain that are literally bringing power to the local level, to a small school hidden deep in the English moors that is redesigning the study of economics, to a vast coalition in North America that is challenging domination by the 1%, this episode of Upstream explores the...


Jessica Gordon Nembhard: African American Co-ops (In Conversation)

In this Upstream Conversation we spoke with Professor Jessica Gordon Nembhard, author of Collective Courage: A History of African American Cooperative Economic Thought and Practice. We spoke with her about the history of solidarity economics--particularly worker co-operatives--within the African American community. We travel in time from the era of slavery, through to Jim Crow segregation, share-cropping, and finally within the modern day prison industrial complex, looking at how...


Trebor Scholz: Platform Cooperativism (In Conversation)

In this Upstream Conversation we spoke with scholar and activist Trebor Scholz, who is an Associate Professor of Culture & Media at the New School for Liberal Arts & co-editor of the book, Ours to Hack and to Own: The Rise of Platform Cooperativism, a New Vision for the Future of Work and a Fairer Internet. Trebor has a very wide breadth of knowledge in the field of digital labor, and is able to articulate a very strong critique of the modern day digital landscape. He walks us through how...


Cheyenna Weber: The Solidarity Economy (In Conversation)

In this Upstream Conversation with spoke with Cheyenna Weber, co-founder of SolidarityNYC and a lead organizer of the Cooperative Economics Alliance of NYC. We spoke with her about the solidarity economy, where it came from, where it is right now, and where it might be headed. How did solidarity manifest during the Occupy Wall Street movement? Why is it important that we view co-operatives, credit unions, and other forms of alternative economics as part of a broader movement? What is the...


Ep 4: The Solidarity Economy

In this episode we explore a phenomenon that has existed throughout centuries both within and alongside Capitalism. Wherever relationships have been based on reciprocity, sustainability, and democratic governance you'll find the Solidarity Economy. We learn of it's origin and about how it is strengthened by countermovements and during times of crisis. We follow its presence throughout the history of a particular marginalized community in the U.S., celebrating the courage of African American...


Sneak Peak: Racism & capitalism (Jessica Gordon Nembhard)

You're listening to a Sneak Peak of our Solidarity Economy episode with scholar & activist Jessica Gordon Nembard, Professor of Community Justice and Social Economic Development in the Department of Africana Studies at John Jay College in New York City. Professor Nembhard is the author of Collective Courage: A History of African American Cooperative Economic Thought and Practice. She will be featured in our upcoming Solidarity Economy episode in collaboration with STIR Magazine, to be...


Doug Henwood: Election 2016 Aftermath (In Conversation)

In this Upstream Conversation we spoke with author and journalist Doug Henwood. Doug wrote a book about Hillary Clinton called My Turn: Hillary Clinton Targets the Presidency, which is a critique of Hillary Clinton and her policies from the left of the political spectrum. We spoke with him about the response to his book, his thoughts on the Democratic Party and the election, the economic forecast of the Trump administration, the state of the economy, and much more. For more from Upstream,...