GEO 2 (III) Regional Cooperative/Solidarity Economy Development

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[Editor's note: below are notes taken at our Advancing the Development of Worker Cooperatives 3 conference.  This interactive one-day event was centered around the topic of regional cooperative/solidarity economy organizing, with a group conversation broken into four sessions - each addressin

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Two brief interviews with participants in GEO's 2015 Advancing the Development of Worker Cooperatives conference. The theme of the conference was "Regional Cooperative/Solidarity Economy Organizing."

Asar Amen-Ra from Detroit, MI and Georgia Julius from Troy, NY talk about why they came to the conference and developments in their local communities.

 

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We call it different names, the work we do to humanize our workplaces, to build an inclusive economy and provide economic, social and racial justice: cooperative economy, solidarity economy, economic democracy, “movements moving together” organizing for economic and racial justice…this issue of GEO explores the different ways that people are cooperating in creating jobs and work we love, farmers markets, unions, building alternative economies, creating a more just society and rebuilding a city.

More people are choosing the cooperative model to express their entrepreneurial spirit in the Northwest. The success of a co-op depends on many people and their efforts. Keywords: resident-owned communities, manufactured homes, worker coops
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Let's try to get both a firm grasp and a large perspective on "regional co-operative/solidarity economic development," and what it has to do with “advancing the development of worker co-operatives.”

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Many people, including those in the labor and worker co-op movements, think that unions and co-ops are singularly mismatched.  Logic has it that worker co-ops don’t need to be unionized since workers own and manage their businesses, and that workers in labor unions just naturally aren’t entrepreneurial but rather are used to resisting “the boss.”  In addition, people may be familiar with large agricultural co-ops in the Midwest that fight with unionized workers, or with food co-ops that resist worker unionization.  

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Since 2011, we’ve been steadily growing the Philadelphia Area Cooperative Alliance. We’ve been developing as an organization, establishing programs and services, and building connections among cooperatives and credit unions. In this article, I will discuss our evolution and speak to our successes and challenges with an eye towards helping other cooperative alliances in their own formation.

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Uber and other so-called sharing economy companies are nothing more than fronts for wealthy capitalists to make money by exploiting workers and avoiding regulations. Worker-owned cooperatives like Madison, WI's Union Cab offer a better alternative that protects workers and customers and helps build wealth within communities.
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Cooperative organizing, development, and technical assistance services are needed in upstate New York.  This void has been slowly—very slowly—shrinking for decades.  It is hoped that the creation and evolution of the New York Cooperative Network between 2011 a

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Movement building happens face to face. Groups of people meet, build common visions, and organize to change the world. So what does data, such an impersonal and abstract figment of bits and bytes, have to do with regional movement building? Quite a lot!

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In order to create a fully cooperative society, co-ops of all varieties need to reach out to other, similarly-aligned groups, such as racial, social and climate justice movements. Groups such as Solidarity NYC and the Southern Grassroots Economies Progect (SGEP) are already working along these lines. Len Krimerman suggests adopting an 8th co-operative principle to address this reality. Keywords: solidarity economy, co-ops, regional development, social development
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Columbia City Farmers' MarketWinter farmers’ markets are tests of fortitude and patience, even in Seattle, where the climate is reasonably temperate much of the season.

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In Ferguson and St. Louis, solidarity economy activists are coming together with social justice advocates to create innovative ways of fighting for justice in their communities. Keywords: MORE, Decarcerate St. Louis, cooperatives, poverty, #BlackLivesMatter
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The Valley Alliance of Worker Cooperatives is a support organization for worker cooperatives, started and funded by member worker co-ops in the Connecticut River Valley area. The Alliance provides management and member-engagement support, educates the general public about cooperatives, lobbies the legislature on behalf of member co-ops and provides a mechanism for furthering cooperative development in the region. Keywords: coops, co-ops, co-operatives, cooperatives, support organizations, regional development, new economy, solidarity economy
Considers the difference between cooperative economics and economic democracy. The two viewpoints are not the same. The potential for collaboration between cooperators and proponents of economic democracy is explored as are methods for injecting economic democracy into consumer and producer co-ops. Keywords: cooperatives, co-ops, economic democracy, democracy, solidarity economy, governance.
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For the last six months, a coordinated dialog has been taking place among a number of the key worker cooperative development and networking organizations in the Bay Area community, a collective initiative to lift the movement onto a higher scale, and make a truly significant regional impact. The Network of Bay Area Worker Cooperatives (NoBAWC) has been a participant in this process.

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