Co-Ops Lead By Putting Communities In Charge Of New Housing Projects

Mehrs als Wohnen won a World Habitat Award last year

By Anca Voinea for Coop News – Co-operatives, community land trusts and other housing models are coming together to help communities design their own homes and neighbourhoods. The new concept – known as a platform for social production of habitat (SPH) – means locals are involved in projects, so they meet their own specifications rather than those set by the private market. Based in Switzerland, the project began when a group of community-led housing practitioners met to discuss the formation of a global network to increase visibility of the model and support local efforts through peer exchange, workshops, solidarity finance and campaigns, and a regional awards program linked to the World Habitat Award. The partners are the Asian Coalition for Housing Rights, Building and Social Housing Foundation (BSHF), Co-operative Housing International, Grounded Solutions Network, Habitat International Coalition, Slum Dwellers International, and UrbaMonde. UrbanMonde co-ordinates activities bringing together the six housing groups from different regions around the world. They focus on helping them to share practices and experiences.

Bronx Home Health Care Cooperative Is Fixing The Field One Aide At A Time

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By Claire Molloy for DNA Info – BRONX — Zenobia Hernandez swung the wheelchair in front of her students, demonstrating how to maneuver a patient in it when there is no ramp present. “The first thing I’m going to do is take the brakes off,” Hernandez said, in Spanish, as she flipped a lever below the wheelchair. “I pull the chair towards me and place my leg here,” she pushed her right leg next to the base of the chair. “Then I’m going to use my hip to support the weight.” Eleven women, dressed in scrubs, watched carefully as Hernandez demonstrated proper technique at the Cooperative Home Care Association — which trains them to become home health aides — near Fordham University in The Bronx. The program, which allows students to learning how to help patients out of bed, check blood pressure and look for signs of worsening conditions, is as close to reality as possible, with fake bathrooms in the building, complete with a shower and a tub for training aides how to assist in bathing. In the next 10 years, home care work is projected to add more jobs than any other occupation in the United States due to the country’s aging population. Job quality is one of the reasons people are not entering the field.

Reflections On A Visit To Cuba’s Urban Cooperatives

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By Christina Clamp for Grassroots Economic Organizing – Cuba has been of interest to me for many years. I lived in Guatemala and Costa Rica from September, 1974 to December, 1975. During that time, Guatemala was experiencing a low level civil war. As Americans, we were not threatened by what was happening in the countryside. Still we were aware of the violence that was occurring at the time. Costa Rica in contrast was “bucolic” by comparison. My undergraduate senior research paper was on the overthrow of the Ubico dictatorship in Guatemala. Through that research, I learned much about the recent political reality. People in the course of oral history interviews about the past, would at times share stories of the death squads roaming the country in search of dissidents and the armed guerrillas. Cuba represented a place that had successfully freed itself from corrupt old style dictators (caudillos) and a place with a clear commitment to universal healthcare and education. I did not expect that we were visiting a “workers’ paradise.” But I had expected that there would be a broad based commitment to basic needs. What we found on this trip was a work in progress.

How To Set Up A Community Co-Op

by Rebecca Siegal via Flickr

By Stir to Action for Shareable – Before joining the Institute for Solidarity Economics recently, I spent the last five years working for rural communities charity the Plunkett Foundation, an organization which supports the establishment of community co-operatives. Community co-operatives are businesses which trade primarily for the benefit of their community. Controlled by the community themselves, they have open and voluntary membership and, crucially, they encourage people to get involved – either by becoming a member, or by volunteering time or getting involved in another way. By encouraging widespread involvement from their local community members, community co-ops play a really important role in helping to overcome issues like social isolation and loneliness, which can be prevalent, particularly in rural areas. Community co-operatives are set up on a one member, one vote basis, rather than one share, one vote. This is important because it means that all members have an equal say in how the co-operative is run, regardless of how many shares they’ve bought or how much money they’ve invested. In this way, they are truly democratic forms of business. People choose to set up community co-ops for a variety of reasons, from safeguarding local services which may be under threat of closure…

Bay Area Nonprofit Project Equity Transforms Businesses Into Worker-Owned Cooperatives

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By Cat Johnson for Shareable – There’s been a lot of talk about where the Baby Boomer generation will live as they age. Several interesting, sharing-based housing alternatives such cohousing and senior villages have emerged as potential options. But what about all the businesses that Baby Boomers own? What happens to those companies when they retire? Project Equity, a nonprofit based in Oakland, California, wants to help those businesses transition to a worker-owned model. According to the organization, “The vast majority (over 85 percent) of business owners do not have a succession plan in place, and increasingly, many are finding it hard to find a buyer when they are ready to sell.” This means they’ll either fold or fall in the hands of larger companies. The group, which was co-founded by Alison Lingane and Hilary Abell in 2014, wants businesses to avoid that fate by turning them into cooperatives. “Good decisions are built into worker cooperatives from the inside out,” Lingane told LIFT Economy. Take the example of Arizmendi Association of Cooperatives, which develops cooperatively-owned bakeries in the Bay Area. The democratic model of the bakeries has not only proved to be sustainable (the Association has been in operation for more than 20 years)…

How To Form A Global Counter-Economy

Commons not Capitalism

By Michel Bauwens and Vasilis Kostakis for Open Democracy. We outline a list of six interrelated strategies for post-corporate entrepreneurial coalitions. The aim is to go beyond the classical corporate paradigm, and its extractive profit-maximizing practices, toward the establishment of open cooperatives that cultivate a commons-oriented economy. First, it’s important to recognize that closed business models are based on artificial scarcity. Though knowledge can be shared easily and at very low marginal cost when it is in digital form, closed firms use artificial scarcity to extract rents from the creation or use of digitized knowledge. Through legal repression or technological sabotage, naturally shareable goods are made artificially scarce so that extra profits may be generated. This is particularly galling in the context of life-saving medicines or planet-regenerating technological knowledge. Open cooperatives, in comparison, would recognize natural abundance and refuse to generate revenue by making abundant resources artificially scarce.

More Equitable Economy Exists Right Next Door

Wally Gobetz / Flickr Creative Commons

By Jay Walljasper for AlterNet – Business owners gather at an elegant Montreal event center to celebrate the 20th anniversary of a large-scale economic partnership. The former chief of Quebec’s largest bank is the guest of honor. Sidewalks bustle with people walking in and out of homes, offices, bank, pharmacy, workout studio and coffee shop at Montreal’s Technopole Angus, a development that already sports 56 business with 2500 employees and will eventually encompass a million-square-feet of real estate. Morning-shift workers unload barrels of paper onto conveyor belts emptying into giant shredding machines on the shop floor of Recyclage Vanier, a Quebec City firm specializing in secure disposal of confidential documents.

#BuyTwitter Should Twitter Become A User Owned Coop

Flickr: Tim Green/ cooperative 1936

By Danny Spitzberg for Loomio – Thanks to you, Twitter has a chance to become a user-owned co-op. Imagine if the “people’s news network” was democratically owned! In April and May, Twitter shareholders will be voting on our resolution: to study the advantages of converting to democratic ownership. They’ll call the vote at the annual meeting at Twitter HQ, on May 24th or 25th. Most votes will made via proxy, especially for shareholders that have a large amount of stock in Twitter. Ideally, we win with 51% or more of the vote – and if we want to learn from this process and make a stronger proposal for 2018, we need at least 3%!

Capitalism Is The Problem

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By Richard D. Wolff for Truthout. Over the last century, capitalism has repeatedly revealed its worst tendencies: instability and inequality. Instances of instability include the Great Depression (1929-1941) and the Great Recession since 2008, plus eleven “downturns” in the US between those two global collapses. Each time, millions lost jobs, misery soared, poverty worsened and massive resources were wasted. Leaders promised that their “reforms” would prevent such instability from recurring. Those promises were not kept. Reforms did not work or did not endure. The system was, and remains, the problem. Inequality likewise proved to be an inherent trend of capitalism. Only occasionally and temporarily did opposition from its victims stop or reverse it.

Newsletter - The Consent Of The Governed

Revolt Source UPI

By Margaret Flowers and Kevin Zeese. Governments function because of the consent of the governed. When a government does not serve the needs or interests of the people, it loses its legitimacy and no longer deserves the consent of the people.Plutocracy defined We have argued for a long time that current governments at all levels – local, state and federal -function primarily to benefit the wealthy. Academics have proven that the United States is a plutocracy – rule of, by and for the wealthy. It is time for us to withdraw our consent. Let’s consider how to do that and what protections will be needed. When a government loses the consent of the people, all it has left to wield to keep its power is repression and force. Cooperation Jackson and the Malcolm X Grassroots Organizing Movement, is calling for “a program of noncompliance and noncooperation on both the federal and state levels.” We have entered a new era, a presidency of protest and an increasing illegitimate government. We have the power to withdraw our consent from hate and exploitation and build love and prosperity.

Building the Commune, Radical Democracy in Venezuela

Venezuela Commune A man painting a mural in the Ataroa commune (Voces Urgentes)

By Stan Smith for MLToday. The grassroots struggle to build a new society, focusing on the cooperatives, the community councils, the communes, established to strengthen popular participatory democracy, is keeping the Chavista revolution alive. This communal movement began with the fight against neoliberalism’s anti-working class measures even before the Caracazo, the 1989 outburst against IMF imposed cuts resulting in the then government killing up to 2000 protesters. In Venezuela these struggles gave rise to popular local assemblies and neighborhood councils to meet community needs neglected by the government. In the Chavez era these became institutionalized as communal councils, participatory organizations for self-governance.

In Venezuela’s Difficult Times The Grassroots Are Stronger

Community members working in the La Columna community garden, Merida, Venezuela. by Tamara Pearson

By Tamara Pearson for the New Internationalist. It’s been three years now of food shortages, inflation, and queues in Venezuela, and the millions of people involved in community and movement organizing have been the most affected. But they’ve also defied right-wing and general expectations, and even perhaps the expectations of the Maduro government, and have become stronger and better organized as a result of the hardships. A worker in charge of sustainable development for the mountain town of Los Nevados for Merida’s Teleferico (cable car) and a member of an urban agriculture organization, La Minga, Loaiza was one of four people I interviewed to get a sense of how the grassroots have been affected by these difficult times – times that have been utterly sensationalised and lied about by the mainstream media. He described the current crisis as a result of politics, and ‘consumerism that isn’t working’ in an oil based, urban-centric economy where people don’t produce what they consume.

Conceptualizing Cooperatives As A Challenge To Capitalist Thinking

Photo: "We are workers, not criminals" was a theme at the Chicago May 1, 2006, immigrant and labor rights march. (swanksalot/CC/Flickr)

By Pete Dolack for Counter Punch – As capitalism lurches from crisis to crisis, and a world beyond capitalism becomes a possibility contemplated by increasing numbers of people, finding a path forward becomes an ever more urgent task. That path is likely to contain a multitude of possibilities and experiments, not all of which will prove viable. Psychological barriers will surely be a major inhibition to overcome; possibly the biggest roadblock given the still ubiquitous idea of “there is no alternative” that has survived despite growing despair at the mounting inequality and precarious futures offered by capitalism.

This Worker-Owned Cooperative Is 'Bigger Than A Business'

Some of TightShift's members: Delonte Wilkins, Noreil Gorham, Nicholas Gorham, Juan Reid, Joseph Morgan, Adriel Fogle, Donnell Sims. (Photo by Samira Rashid/SR Photography)

By Sam Tabachnik for DCist – On the morning of his 34th birthday, Juan Reid woke up in a van parked outside a homeless shelter. He couldn’t stop sobbing. Reid had just finished 14 years in prison, and acclimating to life on the outside was taking its toll. He could feel himself being pulled back into his old habits, tempted by the routine that got him put away. Not wanting to burden his parents any longer, and filled with shame, he elected to sleep in a van on the street instead of ask them for help. Then his phone rang. It was his mom, calling to wish him a happy birthday and say she was proud of him.

Ethical, Cooperative Banking That Sustains Community

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By Staff of The Next System Project – Adam Simpson: Goran, thank you for joining us today. You are the cooperative manager of the Cooperative for Ethical Financing in Croatia. Can you tell us about the process of where this idea came from and how the Cooperative was started? Goran Jeras: If you look at the origins of the idea, it has been about six years since this initiative started emerging. As all other ideas, it started as a talk over a beer. At that time, I was working in the Netherlands as a consultant, consulting with big international financial institutions, so big international banks, insurance companies, etc.