The Ethics of Community Care: Editor’s Letter and TOC

Minnesota Women’s Press publisher and editor Mikki Morrissette

Long buried in my desk drawer is an essay written 20 years ago by Richard Gilbert, author of “How Much Do We Deserve? An Inquiry into Distributive Justice.” The essay points out that in our market-based economy, resources are put toward whatever leads to greater profits.

I read the essay again as we began to launch our Changemakers Alliance network around issues of housing and mental health, and as we shaped this issue of “Collaboration.”

It is not surprising that we have a lack of affordable housing, that the healthiest food options are available in wealthy areas and large cities, and that borrowing money to pay for a car or home is more expensive for those who have lower salaries.

Public defenders and teachers in Minnesota are demanding compensation commensurate with their worth. Health care, child care, and social workers nationwide are stepping away from women-dominated jobs that have never been paid adequately.

The women in “Collaboration” are working toward a more equitable system for communities around the state. The Little Falls region is developing its own farm-to-table system that prioritizes new farmers and caregivers.

  • Finland, a small community in Northern Minnesota, has made communal self-sufficiency its mantra.
  • Near Moorhead, Verna Kragnes is working with emerging immigrant farmers on land access.
  • Near Zumbro Falls, a Slow Money loan is giving Melissa Driscoll an opportunity to develop an experimental greenhouse, using funds from investors who do not require quick returns.

As Carol Gilligan outlined in her 1982 book “In a Different Voice,” the patriarchal “ethics of justice” focuses morality on rules. In contrast, an “ethics of care” centers relationships and deeper understanding of complex issues that impact all of us.

As Minnesota Women’s Press celebrates its 38th anniversary on April 16, we are emphasizing the strengths of women’s collaborative leadership. The polarization of the pandemic, threats to democracy, and lack of community support workers are a natural outgrowth of inadequate investments in people and centuries of exploitation.

This is the time to shake off the idea that we are a society of individuals competing for limited resources.