solidarity economy

The unpalatable fact is that we, the ardent left, count for less and less in the public's thinking about how to live together... You become creditable when others take you seriously even though they may not agree with you. To be taken seriously, you need to know when to keep silent and how to listen well; you are then extending respect and recognition to others.
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Conversations with members from several worker co-ops in Venezuela
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The Salinas reality helps us to pose the big questions we need to pose if we are preoccupied with processes of radical social transformation.
The New America Foundation (NAF) has made a large size policy proposal for basic economic development in the US.  To these untrained eyes and ears it would seem that it is offering a public home for building on and expanding our cooperative economy here in the states.   So I am passing it on to the more knowledgeable for assessment and action.
35% growth since 2005, study claims
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Watch the two minute trailer
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In an age of open source, custom-fabricated, DIY product design...
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We are writing you today because that is what friends do when they need help. We want you to know that we need your help now and that we are thankful for all the support that you have given to us in the past.
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Where will our movement be in another 30 years? In 2040, I will be 76 years old. Chances are, if I am still alive, I will be hopefully still be blogging (or whatever the kids will be doing in those days) but I will likely not be fully involved in the movement or physically working a 40-50 hour work week. Almost all of our current leadership will be in the same position. The current crop of  Toxic Soil Busters will be pushing 50 (like I am now). What should our movement look like in that age?
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The top/down system we seek to change is embedded in us--in our nervous systems, our beliefs, our attitudes, our habits, and our behavior. We are what we are seeking to change.  It is not just out there.  And not only is it in here, but it is out there to a large extent because we, the change agents, re-produce it over and over and over in every kind of relationship we have. This is by no means just a tragic irony. No way. This is a great opportunity.

Our first stop is another component allied with Mongragon University called SAIOLAN. It's an incubator project for helping to launch new coops and high-tech businesses as well as training new entrepreneurs.
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Most new small businesses fail. That's a fact, whether they are in the Basque Country or in the U.S. Or anywhere else. Yet the Mondragon Coops, which all started as small worker-owned businesses, have hardly ever failed. Why? The key is in Father Jose Maria Arizmendi's original founding conception of cooperatives as the interlocking of school, factory and credit union.
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Our topic this morning is the wider range of the cooperative movement, both in the Basque Country and Spain. Mondragon is a part of the Basque Cooperative Confederation. There are currently 755 cooperatives in the Basque Country, and only 80 of them are the worker-owned MCC coops. There are a total of 537,000 members of all the coops, but only 54,919 are worker members, and 37,860 of these are the MCC worker-owners. 

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In the recent series on his blog, The Workers' Paradise ,McNamara is very strong on the possibility of the cooperative movement being able to move to scale.  But he wisely directs our attention to the big problems this is going to bring, problems that are already burdening cooperatives.  The primary one he refers to is “the agency problem” (which is pretty much what I mean by “top/down problem”).

...As we left, many in our group were debating the pros and cons of global economic justice. I shared their concerns, but I also saw something else. Here was the beginnings of some of the most advanced productive forces in the world, the means of both economies of abundance and the means of clean and safe renewable energies and far lighter ecological footprints.
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I'm with a group of 25 social activists on a study tour organized by the Praxis Peace Project. Our focus is the Mondragon Cooperative Corporation, a 50-year-old network of nearly 120 factories and agencies, involving nearly 100,000 workers in one way or another, and centered in the Basque Country but now spanning the globe. We're here to study the history of these unique worker-owned factories, how they work, why they have been successful, and how they might be expanded in various ways as instruments of social change.
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Thank you, John McNamara for advancing the conversation about the opportunities, issues, and problems of taking the cooperative advantage to scale.
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The Park Slope Food Co-op (PSFC) earned $39.4 million in its last fiscal year, reports Fortune, which translates into a per-square-foot average of over $6,500.  By comparison Trader Joe's leads its competitors with an average  per-square-foot earning of $1,750, while one estimate has Whole Foods's doing less than $850. 

The Fortue story examines how PSFC does it.

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Below is a report from Steve Rice (volunteer with the Network of Bay Area Worker Cooperatives  [NoBAWC]), Poonam Whabi (Design Action Collective), and Rick Simon (Just Alternatives for a Sustainable Economy) on the Worker Co-operative component of the Congress.  This component calls on local government to...

 

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