Workplace Democracy

[Editor's note: This is the second of a two part examination of  the relationship between The Democracy Collaborative and the Evergreen Cooperatives of Cleveland, OH.  The author, Atlee McFellin, was a consultant and then employee of The Democracy Collaborative from February, 2011 until Novemeber, 2012.  Part 1 focused on the problems experienced by the Cooperatives and argues that they were largely a result of failures of the "anchor institution model" of co-op development.  Pa

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[Editor's note: the piece below was first published in the print edition of the GEO Newsletter, issue 52, in May of 2002.  While Len's reflections here were sparked by the attacks of 9/11 and their political and social fallout, they speak directly, and clearly to questions which are again being asked by many in the cooperative movement - this time due largely to the results of the 2016 US Presidential elections.  How much should we focus on local economics and how much on national and international

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[Editor's note: below is an article from our archives, originally published in 2003 in GEO Newsletter #58, "Workplace Democracy in the US".  While it appears that Blue Moon Bakery and Café is no longer in operation, Community Builders Cooperative is still a going concern in Somerville, MA.]

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At an informal weekend gathering in Cabot, VT in the summer of 2016, we were asked to guide a group of strangers on making a decision together. The decision to be made was which topics the group would devote our precious time together. We started a first go-around, following the standard Sociocratic process. It seemed easy. Our facilitator made a proposal and we all seemed to be on the same page.

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This is a recording of the webinar from Oct 2016 about how to deal with objections.  See our website for the decision-making sheet and other resources.

 

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The Boston Ujima Project is empowering residents in underserved communities in Boston, to fund and invest in the businesses they want to support in their neighborhoods. Founders, friends, and members of the project explain the impetus behind the project and how they see it as paving the way for community control in increasingly oppressive times.

 

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Josefina Luna of CERO discusses relationships between cooperative consultants, developers and worker-owners with Josh Davis, in the seventh installment of the GEO podcast.

Dania Flores-Heagney of Access Consulting co-op provided interpretation services.

 

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This presentation was part of the "Alternatives to Capitalism: The Solidarity Economy Perspective" event run by The Institute for Solidarity Economics & STIR Magazine on October 18, 2016.

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How does sociocracy work in a worker-owned coop? Hear Joe and Peggy, worker-owners of the Blue Scorcher bakery in Astoria, OR (USA). They have been using sociocracy for a while and they share their stories and best insights. How does sociocracy change the group dynamics? Are non-owners part of the self-governance? What happens when we talk about money? How did they afford to get their training? Follow the tour behind the scenes for some real-life experience!

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[Editor's note: This post is Part II of an essay by Michael Johnson. In it he proposes a democratic movement strategy that emphasizes a strong cultural component. In Part I he argued that culture is a powerful factor in political and economic dynamics, but currently almost all strategic thinking focuses just on structures and systems.

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[Editor's note: This post is Part I of an essay by Michael Johnson. In it he proposes a democratic movement strategy that emphasizes a strong cultural component. In Part I below he argues that culture is a powerful factor in political and economic dynamics, but currently almost all strategic thinking focuses just on structures and systems.

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SOS Faim met with the NGO Autre Terre, a development organisation that takes advantage of its experience in Social and Solidarity Economy in Belgium to strengthen and support economic development project in Africa and Latin America...and that also benefits from the experiences of its partners in the South to strengthen its own activity in Belgium.

Radical Routes, a network of co-operatives working for social change are looking to raise £15k for a women‘s worker co-operative bakery in Kobane a city rended apart by the long civil war in Syria, but now being run under democratic principles as an autonomous region.
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Jessica Bonanno from the Democracy Collaborative and Adam Trott from the Valley Alliance of Worker Cooperatives. The Democracy Collaborative has been doing important work around community wealth building, one of their most notable projects being the Evergreen Cooperatives in Cleveland, OH.

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[Editor's note: below are video profiles of three worker cooperatives.  Each of these cooperatives have benefited from Local Enterprise Assistance Fund (LEAF) loans. LEAF’s mission is to promote human and economic development by providing financing and development assistance to cooperatives and social purpose ventures that create and save jobs for low-income people.

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[Editor's note: this history of the Evergreen Cooperatives is the first of a two-part series written by Atlee McFellin, who was intimately involved in the Evergreen Cooperatives as a consultant and then an employee of the Democracy Collaborative from February, 2011 until November, 2012.  Part one focuses on some of the usually unmentioned contradictions inherent in the "anchor-institution model" of co-op development, and details how those contradictions played out in the particular case of Evergreen.  Part two will look more closely at the role of the Democracy Collabo

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Originally published in GEO vol. 1, issue 44, 2001.

We all want to get away from top-down management. We don't want to tell people what to do, or be told what to do. Yet if it weren't for the inspired leadership of a few dedicated people, many co-ops wouldn't exist. Since in worker-managed co-ops we are going to have leaders—in fact we're all leaders at times —we need democratic leadership. But what is that?

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