The responses of governments around the world to the pandemic and its resulting economic impacts are revealing and varied. As officials enact measures to keep economies afloat and keep people from financial ruin, unprecedented relief efforts are underway. Canada’s government has promised monthly payments worth about $1,450 to anyone affected; Australia plans to give about $1,000 every two weeks to each employee of any struggling business. Many nations, big and small, have guaranteed recurring payments to all citizens until it is safe to go back to work. Italy froze all rent and mortgage payments in early March, and cities and countries around the world have considered ways to follow suit—including the U.S., which ordered reduced mortgage payments for some eligible homeowners for up to a year.
By Mai Sutton for Shareable - A renewable energy cooperative, a community land trust, and a former church building publicly-controlled and used by nearby residents — these are just a few examples of about 500 urban commons projects that are thriving in the Flemish city of Ghent in Belgium. A new research report (in Dutch) shows that within the last 10 years, the city has seen a ten-fold increase in local commons initiatives. The report defines commons as any "shared resource, which is co-owned or co-governed by a community of users and stakeholders, under the rules and norms of that community." With a population of less than 250,000, Ghent is sizably smaller than the other, more well-known Sharing Cities such as Seoul and Barcelona. But this report shows how it is quickly becoming a hub of some of the most innovative urban commons projects that exist today. The study was commissioned and financed by Ghent city officials who were keen to understand how they could support more commons-based initiatives in the future. It was conducted over a three-month period in the spring of 2017. The research for the report was led by the P2P Foundation's Michel Bauwens, in collaboration with Yurek Onzia and Vasilis Niaros, and in partnership with Evi Swinnen and Timelab.
By Cynthia Kaufman for Common Dreams. Our beloved world is entering an increasingly unstable period, full of dangers and also full of possibilities. In many countries, old political parties are crumbling faster and anyone thought imaginable. Old geopolitical alliances have come unglued as the US comes to exercise its role as world hegemon in new and unpredictable ways. The development of the internet, of mobile phones and of apps has led to incredible disruption of many aspects of many societies: from how we pay for and listen to music, to how we consume and propagate information and news, to how we shop for almost anything. All that is solid is melting into air. At this crossroads it is possible that the global community will move in the direction that the dominant social forces seem to be pushing us towards.
By Steven Gorelick For Local Futures - I ran into my friend Rick the other day in a small town near our homes in northern Vermont. He was just coming out of the bookstore, holding a pink plastic bag that, I would soon learn, contained a dozen eggs from his flock of free range hens. After a bit of small talk, Rick asked, “you don’t by any chance have a pair of jumper cables in your car?” I did. “Would you be willing to drive over to the post office and jump my pickup truck? I’ve been trying to park on hills until I can get a new battery, but there just ain’t enough slope at the post office.” After we got his truck started, Rick held out his pink plastic bag and asked, “Could you use some eggs?” As a matter of fact, I could: our elderly hens don’t produce enough for a family of four any more
By Anna Bergren Miller for Shareable - Helsinki is, in many respects, a sharer's paradise. The Finnish capital boasts a range of sharing economy platforms and services, from just-for-fun neighborhood initiatives to global for-profit startups. "There are both big and small examples, innovative and everyday ones, of how sharing takes place" there, summarized Pasi Mäenpää, a researcher in the University of Helsinki's Department of Sociology. If you want to share it—whether "it" is car or a meal, a skill or a services—chances are good that in Helsinki, you can.
By Matt Stannard for Occupy, “People became accustomed to thinking it strange that in these times they would want to pay attention to a hunger artist, and with this habitual awareness the judgment on him was pronounced. He might fast as well as he could – and he did – but nothing could save him anymore. People went straight past him.” — Franz Kafka, “A Hunger Artist,” 1922. Kafka’s hunger artist made performance of suffering his art. In the dismal twilight of corporate capitalism, many of us are becoming hunger artists by necessity, performing our suffering in hopes others can help us out.
By Eleanor Goldfield in Art Killing Apathy - This morning, activists with Beyond Extreme Energy plus partnering groups and individuals broke their 18 day fast outside of FERC (Federal Energy Regulatory Commission). Their fast represents a ramp up of action aimed at FERC’s wild disregard for people or planet. At the event, activists, fasters, faith leaders, and people from fracked communities came up to share their stories, their experiences and offer up inspiration for a continued fight against big oil and gas and their bought off agencies. People sang, played, danced, marched and literally broke bread with each other.
By Various - A Givebox is like a nice cupboard where people can put out stuff they don’t need anymore that others can take. A Give Box, also known as a Gift Box or Free Box is a simple way to promote the gift economy and is easy to set up even if you are on your own. It's simply a box where people are free to put things in for others or to take things from for themselves. Some give boxes are open to all types of property, others encourage people only to give a particular type of item, such as books. The intention behind these Giveboxes are that they encourage neighborhood communication, exchanging and sharing. It is a form of mutual aid that will help build a sense of community. The first one was made in Berlin in 2011 by Andreas Richter. Giveboxes can be seen in many parts of Berlin.
By Oscar Perry Abello in Next City - Jennifer Meccozi spent two decades chopping onions as a restaurant cook before she became “chief door knocker” in Buffalo, New York, or in other words, director of organizing at People United for Sustainable Housing (PUSH) Buffalo. PUSH is a membership-based community organization dedicated to affordable housing, equitable jobs and ecological sustainability for the West Side of the city. “People know that there are door-knocking campaigns and community organizers do it all the time, but have they thought of this consciously as a tool for economic development,” explains Keane Bhatt, senior associate for policy and strategy at the Democracy Collaborative, based in Takoma Park, Maryland. Bhatt is co-author of Educate and Empower: Tools for Building Community Wealth, a report released today that features profiles of 11 organizations including PUSH Buffalo.
By John Duda in Medium - But there’s another lesson to be learned from Curtis Bay: organized communities can successfully demand something other than business as usual. It started with just a few high school students, who started talking about building neighborhood resistance to the incinerator. With the help of local economic human rights organization called the United Workers, that small initial group snowballed into a massive campaign, bringing students and neighbors together with supportive activists and artists from across the city, all showing up at meetings of the institutions who had signed up to purchase power from the planned incinerator, and demanding they do otherwise. Against all expectations, as of August 2015, it looks like they are winning. The consortium of school boards, local governments, and nonprofits has canceled their contracts with Energy Answers, and the incinerator is far from even beginning construction. Meanwhile, Curtis Bay residents have become leading voices working to create an alternative development plan.
By David Bollier - So what might a commons-based economy actually look like in its broadest dimensions, and how might we achieve it? My colleague Michel Bauwens of the P2P Foundation offers a remarkably thoughtful and detailed explanation in a just-released YouTube talk, produced by FutureSharp. It’s not really a video – just Michel’s voiceover and a simple schematic chart – but the 20-minute talk does a great job of sketching the big-picture strategies that must be pursued if we are going to invent a new type of post-capitalist economy. Michel focuses on the importance of three specific realms that are crucial to this new vision – ecological sustainability, open knowledge and social solidarity. Each is critical as a field of action for overturning the existing logic of market capitalism.
By Mollie Reilly in Huffington Post - The Wo/Men's Alliance for Medical Marijuana in Santa Cruz, California, provides medical cannabis to seriously ill patients at little or no cost. Founded in 1993 by Valerie and Mike Corral, WAMM functions as a cooperative: Instead of purchasing marijuana like one would at a traditional dispensary, the collective's 850 members receive low- or zero-cost bud, depending on need and ability to donate. That model, however, has left the collective financially vulnerable. Confronted with the possibility of folding, WAMM is now turning to the community it has served for two decades for help. In 1992, the Corrals were arrested for growing five marijuana plants in front of their home. The charges were dropped after Valerie claimed medical necessity, but they were arrested again the following year.
This is no plea for pity for corporate kingpins like Walmart and McDonald’s inundated by workers’ demands for living wages. Raises would, of course, cost these billion-dollar corporations something. More costly, though, is the price paid by minimum-wage workers who have not received a raise in six years. Even more dear is what these workers have paid for their campaign to get raises. Managers have harassed, threatened and fired them. Despite all that, low-wage workers will return to picket lines and demonstrations Wednesday in a National Day of Action in the fight for $15 an hour. The date is 4 – 15. These are workers who live paycheck to paycheck, barely able to pay their bills, and certainly unable to cope with an emergency.
Gebremariam isn’t just complaining about it. Instead, he and 644 other drivers are on a mission to form a new taxi company that will be both worker-owned and unionized. The new co-op, Green Taxi, will have a fleet of hybrid or high-efficiency vehicles, and will offer a ride-hailing app. The drivers aren’t going it alone. The Communications Workers of America Local 7777 union is playing a key role in helping them break into Denver’s heavily regulated taxi industry. The new cooperative faces many legal barriers before they can get taxis on the road. For example, the Public Utilities Commission, which oversees the industry, requires potential new companies to prove that they have a viable business plan, that more drivers are needed, and that the new company won’t put existing ones out of businesses.