by Josh Davis

The links page of the wonderful Naked Capitalism site today, included this one from VoxEU:

If you live—or want to live—according to the ideals of sustainability, cooperation and equality, come to the annual Twin Oaks Communities Conference this summer for a celebration of cooperatives and communal lifestyles!

While many people associate cooperatives with a place for hippies to buy organic food, the cooperative movement has actually grown far and wide, creating sustainable enterprises that generate jobs and strengthen local economies. Today, there are nearly 30,000 cooperatives in the United States, with more than 100 million members.

Mira Luna: Why did African-Americans first start getting involved in cooperative economic activity? Was it for political or practical reasons or both?

The Praxis Project is excited to release, “Transforming the Economy from the Ground Up,” a paper on the solidarity economy authored by the Highlander Research and Education Center. The solidarity economy is part of a long-term strategy to address systemic and structural problems that make Mississippi the poorest state in the nation and keep billions of people in poverty  all over the world.

Imagine this: an economic model that takes the needs of the entire community into account. One that respects the rights of people and the planet. A market system that favors both the consumers and the producers.

In the past 30 years, though, there has been a rapid growth of all kinds of initiatives in the social economy. Confidence was lost in the centralised state-based alternatives, particularly after 1989. The revolution in information and communications made it possible to develop much more distributed systems of organisation, with complex webs of collaboration. Now, with the financial collapse of 2008 putting neoliberalism on the back foot, we are witnessing a new interest in co-operation.

No one really likes having a boss. So why not be your own boss? And no, this is not yet another post about the benefits of freelancing.

Worker cooperatives are a unique kind of business that are democratically owned and governed by the people doing the labor. Without any bosses on the job, each employee acts as both worker and owner. Now one group, the Wellspring Collaborative, is looking to jumpstart the growth of worker cooperatives in an unlikely place: inner-city Springfield, Massachusetts.

A growing number of educators and social entrepreneurs across the country are discovering that the secret to learning empathy, emotional literacy, self-awareness, cooperation, effective communication, and many of the other skills classified as “social and emotional learning,” lies in experience, not in workbooks and rote classroom exercises.

Read the full article at YES! Magazine

Unlike a bank, whose investments are controlled by private decision-makers and shareholders, a credit union can decide to give every member/investor and equal vote. At the Lower East Side Credit Union, a low income community development institution, the members have chosen to keep their resources and their lending in their low-income neighborhood.

Cooperative economics and civil rights don't often appear together in history books, but they should. From the mutual aid societies that bought enslaved people's freedom to the underground railroad network that brought endangered blacks to the north, cooperative structures were key to evading white supremacy. And there was vicious backlash when black co-ops threatened the status quo.

A region that went through ... a crisis in the 1990s is that of Mercosur where hundreds of worker-owned enterprises emerged often with the full support of trade unions. A case in point is that of Forja, South America’s largest forge which, with the backing of the ABC Metalworkers’ union of the Central Única des Trabalhadores (CUT), became Uniforja, a worker cooperative. The success of Uniforja and many other cooperatives led to the creation of Unisol, a worker cooperative federation which now has over 800 affiliated enterprises representing 70,000 workers.

[C]ooperatives are well-placed to contribute to sustainable development’s triple bottom line of economic, social and environmental objectives plus the governance agenda, not least because they are enterprises that endeavour to meet the economic progress of members while satisfying their socio-cultural interests and protecting the environment. They offer an alternative model for enterprise, with contributions to sustainable development well beyond job creation.

Cuba's slow, cautious reforms to revive its state-run economy suddenly burst into life at businesses like Karabali, a Havana nightclub owned by a 21-member cooperative.

The communist government began leasing Karabali to its employees just six months ago and now the once sleepy club is regularly packed with more than 100 customers from midnight until dawn despite competition from dozens of private and state-run night spots in the city.

Most farmers will tell you that cooperation is crucial to keeping a farm running like a well-oiled threshing machine.

But at Stone Soup Farm Cooperative in Hadley, cooperation is everything.

They were tired of being taken to the cleaners by their bosses — so they’re taking out the trash on their own.

Pa’lante Green Cleaning, a 15-member Jackson Heights cleaning cooperative owned and operating by the cleaning ladies themselves, celebrated its grand opening Wednesday.

“Now that I’m part of this project, I’m very excited to be an owner as well as an employee,” said Claudia Leon, a 36-year-old Mexican immigrant who was earning just $20 a day as a waitress at a taqueria in Jackson Heights.

What do cities need? People who care about them. Preferably, people with a little money to invest.

The big mistake that many cities and states have made, and keep making, is trying to attract people who don’t care, but have a lot of money to invest. What usually happens is that before too long, they take their money somewhere else that is more attractive. Or—possibly worse—make demands that are detrimental to the city, in return for staying.

APRIL 17th 6-8pm

CUNY Grad Center,
365 5th Ave, New York, Room 9204


Join a panel discussion with:
 
Chavannes Jean-Baptiste -Peasant Movement of Papaye (MPP), Haiti - General Coordinator  
Nancy Romer - Brooklyn Food Coalition - Chair, Governance Board  
Robert Robinson - Take Back the Land, National Economic and Social Rights Initiative  
Tristan Quinn-Thibodeau - Global Movements Program, WhyHunger;  Event Moderator

Similarities abound between today’s declining civic ethos and mid nineteenth century, pre Civil War era human flesh markets starting with America’s contemporary desperation class composed of minimum wage workers toiling in America’s most praised corporations (e.g. Wal-Mart & McDonalds) who need public sector-funded food stamps to make basic ends meet.

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