At a two-day retreat in December of 2005, GEO Collective
members set out to reflect on GEO's successes and ongoing challenges, and to
weave our visions for the future in light of the needs of the larger movements
we aim to support. Here are some of the key ideas that came out of these
The GEO Newsletter can and will
continue to serve the crucial role of providing news and analysis of diverse
global efforts to construct a democratic and solidarity-based economy. GEO
remains the only publication in the U.S. that is dedicated solely to these
themes. We reaffirm the importance of such an information source for the
ongoing growth and development of a robust economic democracy movement.
On the basis of reader feedback
about the future of the newsletter, analysis of the current landscape of
democratic economic movements, and assessment of our own collective capacity
within GEO, it became clear to us that the newsletter needs to take some new
directions. These are some of our goals for a "new" GEO
publication (of which this issue is the first!):
• Quarterly publication, with longer issues (ranging from
• Improved graphic design and imagery.
•Longer articles with deeper analysis and discussion,
including a strengthened emphasis on "movement-building strategies"
and a wider focus that includes not only worker cooperatives, but many other
forms of economic democracy and solidarity.
• A regular set of sections including a calendar, global
news flashes, news and updates from movement organizations, a "people in
the movement" profile, an "innovative initiative profile," a
"Big Question," reviews and more.
• More letters, ideas and commentaries from our readers!
Most of all, we hope to recruit more organizers, activists
and solidarity-loving researchers into our ranks to write about their ideas and
experiences, and to collect and distill the ideas and experiences of others to
share with our larger movement. Be the media! Write with GEO!
Our Website: www.geo.coop
In the coming months, we will also be making substantial
improvements to our website as a resource hub for building a solidarity economy
movement. Newsletter articles will be published in easily readable and
downloadable form, a "resource library" of useful articles and other
materials will be developed, our "links" page will be expanded and
updated, and a blog-like structure will be developed for fostering ongoing
commentary and discussion. We would love to hear your ideas about how our
website could be made even more useful and accessible. And help with web design
and maintenance is needed and very welcomed!
The GEO Collective
Beyond envisioning a new
publication, we affirmed that the GEO Collective is more than just the GEO
Newsletter. Grassroots Economic Organizing serves not only to chronicle movements
for economic solidarity, but also to provide resources and support for convening
networks of initiatives and connecting individuals and organizations
with each other. Indeed, for the entire 15 years of our existence, GEO has
acted as an informal resource hub and support organization. GEO Collective
members have developed extensive contacts with economic democracy projects
across the country and throughout the world, and have also provided direct,
hands-on organizing support to some of these projects.
We seek, now, to "formalize" these practices. The
GEO Collective affirms that our mission is threefold:
1. To chronicle and share
ideas, experiences and strategies that are emerging from contemporary movements
for economic democracy and solidarity.
We will do this through continued publication of the GEO
Newsletter, a strengthened website, a yet-to-be-developed "e-zine",
and ongoing educational presentations and programs.
2. To connect individuals
and organizations with the information they need to succeed as pioneers of
economic solidarity and cooperation, and to foster further connections between
and among these individuals and organizations with the aim of supporting
the growth of a diverse and powerful solidarity economy movement.
We will do this through: a) continued coordination of
the Data Commons Project (building a shared, multi-organization database as a
foundation for a public directory of the cooperative and solidarity economy);
and b) by offering our services as an "information resource hub"
(via our website and 1-800 number) to individuals and organizations in need.
3. To convene
conversations between organizers and activists working in all sectors of
movements for economic justice, and to encourage the formation of networks and
organizations that formally link economic solidarity efforts into coherent
relationships of mutual recognition and support.
We will do this through ongoing support for organizations
such as the Eastern Conference on Workplace Democracy and the U.S. Federation
of Worker Cooperatives, and with continued long-term work towards building a
national "solidarity economy" membership organization.
In an effort to make GEO publications more accessible to a
wider community, and to explore a new practice of economic solidarity within
our organization, GEO will be experimenting with pricing the GEO Newsletter and
other publications on a "sliding scale." This means that it is up to
our readers to reflect on their own economic status, as well as on their
commitment to supporting GEO, our projects, and the larger movement that we are
a part of, and make a choice regarding the price they will pay for a
Why are we trying this radical (and some might suggest
"uneconomic") scheme? First, we are instituting a sliding scale
because we believe that all people, regardless of income, should be able to
access the information and ideas that we collect within the pages of GEO. In a
society that is built on structured social and economic inequality, sliding
scale fees are an essential tool for organizations and projects seeking to
embody principles of economic justice and solidarity.
Secondly, we believe that
pricing on a sliding scale can be economically viable. This depends, of course,
on our subscribers practicing economic solidarity: those who are able
paying on the higher end of the sliding scale enables GEO to be accessible (and
remain economically viable) for those with lower incomes. Our choice to
experiment with this system is rooted in the trust that we have for our
readers, subscribers, and fellow travelers on the many paths to dignity and
We welcome you to join us on
this new phase of the journey. We need volunteers to help with writing,
interviews and editing, newsletter layout, web design and maintenance, research
and information-gathering, fundraising, marketing and recruiting new
subscribers, and helping to further develop our "organizing wing" to
connect and convene solidarity economy networks.