PBS News Hour reports on"BerkShares," the local paper currency of Berkshire County in Massachusetts

News from the newly formed Austin Cooperative Business Association:

*Brian Donovan was recently named founding Executive Director

*According to the Black Star Coop blog, the effort is supported by the National Cooperative Business Association

The Emilia-Romagna region in Northern Italy is one of the most co-operative regions in the world
Laboral Kutxa (the Mondragon bank) and the US based National Cooperative Bank (ncb) planning to partner in order to grow domestic worker-owned cooperatives
Mira Luna of Shareable.Net writes about Brazil having one of the most advanced solidarity economies in the world, though it has received little media attention outside of Brazil

In this article, Margaret Flowers and Kevin Zeese continue their campaign of publicizing the alternatives to the "Washington Consensus" and Neo-Liberal Economics. The article makes a clear case for the foundation concepts of Solidarity Economics, tying it to the ancient tradition of "The Commons", a topic of a recent GEO Issue about the work of Elinor Ostrom.

Twin Oaks Community Conference Banner If you let it, the Communities Conference can really shake you up.  Daring people who are trying new or untested lifestyles are presenting or in attendance.  Step outside your comfort zone a bit and start from the assumption that you could live somewhere else, or with other people and see what this event has to offer and demonstrate.

Community Economic Development (CED) scholars posit that creating worker cooperatives – businesses owned and managed by their workers – is a progressive approach to CED with the potential to go beyond job creation and spur grassroots political activism.

Here’s  a stunning video report on some research that is looking with some depth at economic behavior and how we see ourselves and others. I think the implications of this work for economic democracy and understanding empowerment processes could be awesome.

Some thoughts on MJ's Culture trumping Structure: I like the garden analogy, but I also think that some “structures” are culture builders, much as some plants are soil builders. E.g., part of Mondragon’s “structure” is that cooperative membership is more than having an equal say in one’s co-op. It also involves being an “empresario”, a labor entrepreneur. (See Ana Gutierrez Johnson, in Changing Work, #1, p. 40.) That is, it involves building a cooperative culture. As Ana put it, “This entrepreneurial orientation is the factor which explains the expansion of the [Mondragon] cooperative network and its level of technological and organizational development.” Think as well of P6, where the line between structure and culture also appears to fade away. (This is also true of the democracy building work of groups like Everyday Democracy, which rely on trained community-based facilitators of a carefully constructed democratic process.) So it looks to me that getting the structure right is not just replacing hierarchy with non-hierarchical, one person, one vote, governance. It involves, or can involve, learning new norms, changing old habits, inventing new processes for making group decisions. Like listening to other voices as much or more than expressing one’s own views; or seeing leadership as developing the leadership potential in others rather than leading/directing them towards goals they did not shape. Still, I’d agree “transformative tilling” of our own cultural soil is essential. (But do we have solid evidence for this?} In any case, perhaps it too can best emerge from deeply democratic structures (e.g., like that of Highlander) and deeply democratic processes, like those of Everyday Democracy. At the least, I think, those structures/processes can play a crucial supportive role in keeping that personal tilling work an ongoing common priority – and in ensuring that it is harmonious with cooperative development and community building missions. Here again, the relationship is between structure/process and culture seems, to me, more symbiotic than you appear to allow. P.S. And what are we to understand by a "strong democratic culture"? Examples?
Over her 20+ years as a reporter she has gotten a sense of what's happening that isn't easily replicated by anybody else. She sees a crisis and opportunity like that famous Chinese character.
Think of democracy as a garden: structures would be the plants and culture the soil. The soil will determine the quality of the plants more than the plants the quality of the soil. Plant democratic structures in conflicted soil and you get a mix that seriously lacks cooperation and collective power.

Paul Glover started the Ithaca Health Alliance in 1997 because it was clear that Big Insurance would never permit Congress to enact universal coverage. For $100/YEAR, members of the Ithaca co-op were covered for 12 categories of common emergency, to specified maximum amounts, anywhere in the world. http://www.ithacahealth.org After several years, they built their own free clinic.

From Jai Jai Noire out on the west coast:

1- Overview of the May 18th NoBAWC meeting/celebration


2- Bernard Marszalek on why coops need to define ourselves


3- Community Colleges & Coops- a brief conversation

...we think differently about carpenters than most do.  First of all, when we hire a carpenter, we’re not just hiring a carpenter –  we are hiring a future owner, someone we imagine will stay here and with whom we will share ownership in five years.

Read the full blog.

David Brancaccio, Marketplace Morning Report

Gar Alperovitz is a political economist and historian. His new book, called "What Then Must We Do: Straight Talk About the Next American Revolution", details systemic changes for the economy. He says co-ops are key to the nation's recovery.


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