The Amish and Economic Innovation

The Amish and Economic Innovation

Recently, NPR’s Planet Money did an episode on the economic life of the Amish. They examined how, in attempting to stay true to their principles, the Amish community has responded to the world of business with a combination of technological innovation – adapting technology to serve their specific needs – and by working in niche markets in which they excel. It’s a fascinating case study of how a community can adapt to the modern world while staying true to the convictions that define them; it’s well worth a listen. What can we learn from this case study about finding imaginative and innovative ways to stay true to our own principles in the modern economy?


Steven Cottam

Steven Cottam hangs out in the Church Hill neighborhood of Richmond, Va, alongside a lot of cool folks who are up to a lot of good. He works as an outdoor educator, working to get urban youth out and enjoying God's creation. He lives with his wife Megan, his (soon to be born) daughter Jackie, his dog Wanda, and their roommate Kelly. Past adventures have included getting his Master's in Theology from Catholic Theological Union, serving as a elementary school religion teacher, and living in a Catholic Worker house in Phoenix, AZ.

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  • everydaysubversive

    i think one of the most interesting things about this is that old order mennonites make their decisions, all of the typical amish sterotypes are based off of a commitment to simple, humble living that is devoid of a self seeking, violent pride. And if that culture would spread through some international organization… say, the church, the world would be different.

  • Gayle Evers

    What a great program. Well worth listening to.

    What struck me was that the only reason this all worked was because of community. Community provides the training. Community provides the frame of reference (i.e. Is this good for my family? Does it build up my community?). Community provides the safety net. When things go horribly wrong, my community is there to ensure I do not starve and that I get the help I need.

    It boils down to putting economics inside of relationship, rather than submitting relationship to a larger economy. And, of course, it would completely fall apart unless the individuals and therefore the community shared a worldview of loving God with all your heart, with all your mind, with all your strength and with all your soul, and loving your neighbor as yourself.

  • Steve Vines

    Love it!