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New Economy

Allied Community And Co-operative Shared Services (ACCESS)

So basically, ACCESS is a shared services platform and it provides a collective of professional services that are aligned with co-ops, nonprofits and other social purpose organizations. And we just have been working on this for the last year and a half. And the kind of the backstory to ACCESS — I was approached by the ED at ACCA, the Alberta Community Cooperative Association, and I was asked if I would be interested in writing a grant. And I think I was a month into the job there, and I wasn't quite sure what I knew about co-ops and, you know, even writing a grant application at that level. But once I saw what the grant was for, I was like, "You know what? I actually really like the whole heart behind this." Having worked in a nonprofit setting for many years, I think capacity — stretching employees beyond their capacity, expecting them to do maybe a little bit more than what they were trained for, or where their passions lie — that was always a piece that I always kind of argued about at the leadership table, or advocated for, like, "why is our bookkeeper writing a newsletter?

Cooperatives Are Key To Climate Action

What successful cooperatives and climate initiatives have in common comes down to how closely aligned they are with the needs and capacities of the people they most directly impact.  Initiatives that take place at the community, town, city, and regional level, even if not coordinated or controlled by an overarching organization, scale up to make large impacts. Co-ops, as democratically run organizations, can design appropriate and achievable steps that are sustainable for their members, even if they would not be attractive for traditional profit-driven investors. A good example is the People Power Solar Cooperative in California, who make co-owning a solar project possible for individuals who don’t have capital or land. In 2019, the co-op constructed a residential-sized solar energy project that sells the power generated to residents in the area and then pays dividends to the member-owners.

Why We Need The Solidarity Economy

We are living in a time of multiple crises. The climate emergency seriously threatens the continued survival of humanity, exacerbating injustice, exploitation, poverty and vulnerability. And the global cost of living crisis is driving more and more people into precarity. Although these crises are often portrayed as novel and contemporary rather than cumulative consequences of centuries-old destructive systems, those that have been at the frontlines of marginalization caused by the current world order, rooted in colonization and capitalism, have always known, to quote the Zapatistas, that this house has been on fire for many centuries. Coming up with solutions and alternatives to this destructive system has therefore been a necessity for communities across the globe.

Commoning Our Way Through The Climate Crisis

In early 2020, the Covid-19 pandemic forced a retreat into our homes in a grand finale of our atomization and separation from nature — a separation that was exacerbated by enclosures. Yet physically distanced (and with the fragility of the economic system exposed) we remembered our interdependence. Many of us rediscovered ways of self-organizing and returned to the culture of commoning that has been overlooked as a vital way to address many issues, like climate change. Across countries, collective responses to the climate crisis have flourished at local levels, particularly where there were existing networks of support and democratic enterprise. Community energy organizations sent thousands of pounds to support neighborhood responders before governments had figured out how to reach people.

The Making Of Co-op City, The Nation’s Biggest Housing Co-op

Affordable housing activists spend a lot of time talking about how to bring about solutions that match the scale of the problem. Co-ops and community land trusts—frequently mentioned strategies for creating permanently affordable housing—often face challenges about their potential to scale up. It seems timely, then, that a new book is out about the largest housing cooperative in the country, a development of phenomenal scale and longevity—Co-op City in the Bronx. Freedomland: Co-op City and the Story of New York, by Oberlin College history professor Annemarie Sammartino, traces the history of Co-op City from its initial planning stages in the mid 1960s through the early 1990s, including a major rent strike, the assertion of community control, race and class dynamics, and the ways the development reflected what was happening in New York City as a whole.

Cecosesola Of Venezuela Wins Right Livelihood Award!

What a thrill to learn that Cecosesola (Central de Cooperativas de Lara) -- the Venezuelan network of community organizations from low-income areas – has won the 2022 Right Livelihood Award!  Cecosesola is a federation of co-operatives and other groups that has created its own distinct social and economic ecosystem. Since 1967, the group has relied on commoning to develop a humane provisioning system that meets the needs of more than 100,000 families across seven Venezuelan states. The Right Livelihood Award cites Cecosesola for "establishing an equitable and cooperative economic model as a robust alternative to profit-driven economies."  It has achieved this in the face of serious problems in Venezuela – a financial crisis, food shortages, hyper-inflation, and a massive out-migration of 7 million people.

Catalyzing Worker Co-ops And The Solidarity Economy

So, some quick things, and I'm going to go through some examples actually for everything on this list. Co-op workplaces: you can soft launch a co-op workplace as a pop up business while building community support. So you don't have to actually get a building together, you know, there are ways to do it. So you don't need to be renting a big expensive building downtown in the beginning. And many co-ops also use crowdfunding or even grants to get off the ground. And there's different kinds of funding available, so you can kind of think about, what your  business model looks like and and how you might approach bringing in outside funds, if that's the route that you want to or need to take. And I should say, as you can see, pretty much most people under 40 at this point are going to need a level of financial help, and that's that's okay. That's just kind of part of where the economy is for our generation.

The Genius Of Ella Jo Baker

Ella Jo Baker will be inducted into the Cooperative Hall of Fame as an “Unsung Hero” at a ceremony at the National Press Club on Oct. 6 in Washington DC. Ella Baker is well-regarded as a giant in the Civil Rights Movement, known for her unique participatory grassroots organizing style and also for her ability to galvanize young people to bring a militancy in the struggle to end segregation. But Baker is less known for her innovative organizing prowess before the 1960s – forming a network of self-help cooperatives to bring economic relief to black people during the Depression. “Ella Baker was one of the most effective, original and masterful organizers of the 20th century,” one scholar noted about the woman who became a Civil Rights legend (Tutashinda, 2010, p. 33).

The History Of African American Cooperative Eco-Systems

This session is the fourth installment of the Black Labor, Solidarity Economy, and Movement Lawyering Series, Co-organized by the Workers' Rights institute and Julian Hill and hosted in collaboration with Coalition for Racial Equity and Democratic Economies (CREDE), the Georgetown Law Socialist Students Union, ONE DC, Malcolm X Grassroots Movement (MXGM), and Claudia Jones School for Political Education. In this session, Jessica Gordon-Nembhard will discuss the history of African American mutual aid and cooperative economics, Black cooperative economic thought, the most prolific periods in the US African American Cooperative movement, and contemporary and previous examples of worker-owned cooperatives, lessons learned, and the way forward.

Is Private Equity’s Employee Ownership Plan The Real Deal?

In April, 19 private equity firms committed to providing equity shares to employees at some portfolio firms, as part of the new nonprofit Ownership Works initiative, which has a goal of creating $20 billion in wealth for low- and moderate-income workers over the next decade. Seems like good news. But we urge impact investors to be skeptical. The industry that has done the most damage to job quality and worker security over the last two decades claims to be reversing course. And there will be workers who see a nice hit of cash. But ownership? Not really. What these PE firms are doing falls far short of what authentic employee ownership represents, which is the beginning of a truly democratic economy where ordinary people have more control over their lives, more stability in their work, a fair share in the wealth they create, and the chance to own and control the places where they work.

The Radical Roots Of Community Supported Agriculture

The success of community-supported farming has coincided with rising demand for organic food since the late 1970s. But the model’s popularization has meant that, sometimes, CSAs can be misrepresented as ‘just another way’ for consumers to purchase fresh, seasonal food. Important elements embedded into the CSA model, such as that of shared risk among members, make the arrangement more than merely transactional. In fact, the origins of the CSA movement in America have radical roots, drawn from the prominent environmental movement and a subculture dissatisfied with the prevailing economic system. A 1985 paper newly digitized from the Schumacher Center archive, “Community Supported Food Systems”, clarifies the deeper motivations which brought CSAs to the US in their present form.

Restaurant Adopts A ‘No-Tipping’ Business Model By Paying A Living Wage

Restaurant workers have one of the most tiring jobs, yet many industry professionals remain notoriously underpaid. Employees often rely on customer tips to make a livable wage, adding another layer of stress to the already tense working environment. Sadly, most restaurants in the U.S. transfer the cost of labor onto customers in the form of tips, leaving their hard-working employees with no safety net. But the owners of a San Francisco eatery have been defying the status quo for years with their “tip-free” model that offers all their staff a living wage with full benefits and even a share of the restaurant’s profits.

Steps To Organizing A Cooperative

I am with USDA Rural Development, a long time co-op developer, and we have Alex Stone, the Executive Director of CooperationWorks!, and we are pleased that we are able to offer this first in a series. What we're going to present today is just the basics on the steps to forming a cooperative. So I've been a co-op developer, based in my home state of Wisconsin. I've helped organize about 35 different cooperatives in all kinds of different industry sectors. And I'd like to share with you some knowledge that that the field of cooperative development has developed, and some personal lessons I've learned along the way that I'd like to share with you as well.

Community Land Trusts As A Proactive Model For Post-Capitalist Development

On paper, a Community Land Trust [C.L.T.] is a non-profit organization first, but not necessarily foremost. Indefinite land leases within inflated financial and real estate markets are most desirable for the procurement of actual wealth equity. C.L.T.’s are a proactive model for sustainability and break the vicious cycle of our archaic Colonial past. The sociological relevance of a C.L.T. is in developing a community orientation for living a life aligned with autonomous Degrowth and the promotion of New Local Post-Capitalism. New localism is therefore characterized by a cautious devolution of power to the local level in an attempt to better implement national goals. It emphasizes the devolution of managerial over political power — the aim is generally to allow local managers to meet national priorities more effectively, rather than to allow local politicians to derogate from national goals.

The Power And Potential Of Democratic Public Ownership

In most cases, it would be absurd to think that the same approach that created a problem would also be the one best suited to solve it. Yet this is exactly what we are expected to believe regarding the existential ecological threats our world now faces. As predicted by many since its inception, capitalism and its core interconnected tenants — private ownership of the means of production, market allocation, and exponential economic growth — have brought us to the precipice of both environmental and social disaster. Yet, year after year we continue to be told that capitalism will save us. Just a few more dashes of regulation here, some different market incentives there, and the turning point is right around the corner. All the while, temperatures climb, species disappear, the air is choked with smog, waters rise, forests burn, and storms rage.
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