Networking & Collaboration

Are the identities of activist and entrepreneur compatible? Judy Wicks is an entrepreneur and author who’s work has taken her from the Zapatistas in Mexico to neighborhood activism in Philadelphia. She co-founded the Free People's Store, which later became Urban Outfitters, and is the author of Good Morning Beautiful Business: the Unexpected Journey of an Activist Entrepreneur and Local Economy Pioneer. Also, activist and movement theorist Gopal Dayaneni takes us on a journey through critical economic analysis and how to resist capitalism.

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The Social Solidarity Economy is an alternative to capitalism and other authoritarian, state-dominated economic systems. In SSE, ordinary people play an active role in shaping all of the dimensions of human life: economic, social, cultural, political, and environmental. SSE exists in all sectors of the economy—production, finance, distribution, exchange, consumption and governance. SSE has the ability to take the best practices that exist in our present system (such as efficiency, use of technology and knowledge) and transform them to serve the welfare of the community based on different values and goals.
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Unlike many alternative economic projects that have come before, solidarity economics does not seek to build a singular model of how the economy should be structured, but rather pursues a dynamic process of economic organizing in which organizations, communities, and social movements work to identify, strengthen, connect, and create democratic and liberatory means of meeting their needs. ~Ethan Miller, from Other Economies are Possible

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Jaques Kaswan (June 14, 1924 - January 28, 2015) studied cooperatives for 50 years and was a developer of systems to support the formation of worker coops and housing coops for over 35 years. He was a co-founder of the Arizmendi Assn, as well as Walnut Street Cooperative. 

Obituary at the San Francisco Chronicle

 

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A diversity of kindred approaches to alternative political economics is emerging across the country.  Many of them share a regional focus. This is showing unusual potential for advancing the development of worker co-operatives through inter-cooperative and cross-sector networking.  We are calling this Regional Cooperative/Solidarity Economic Development (C/SE) (Please see the note below on why we are using this unusual phrase, “cooperative/solidarity.”)

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This article was first published in GEO Newsletter Vol. 1, Issue 72/73, 2007

The contemporary U.S. worker cooperative movement is somewhat ambiguous about its relationship to capitalism.  Members of our movement today range in perspective from viewing cooperatives as an anti-capitalist tool of struggle, "embodying the world that we seek to build," to seeing them as worker-empowering additions to an economic system believed to be either inevitable or in need of only minor modification.

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OPEN CO-OPERATIVISM EMERGING

There is a very interesting development coming out of the UK and Western Europe. A network of folks over there are working hard on developing a framework for the convergence of co-operative, commons, solidarity, open source, and all the alternative economic movements. 

At this point they have identified three long term objectives:

[1] Build and Expand New Regimes of Law, Governance and Management; 

[2] Aggregate Patient Capital (aka “Co-Operative Accumulation”); 

[Editor's note: J Rainsnow is a novelist. His unusual review of Bulding Co-operative Power: Stories and Strategies from Worker Co-Operatives in the Connecticut River Valley comes from an artist’s perspective, outside of that of most co-operators, organizers, and activists.  His view is large and his grasp of details surprisingly rich.

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[Editor's note: this report by Pat Conaty and David Bollier presents an in-depth look at the how our often disparate movements might begin to work together more closely in order to create a more just, open and equitable economy.  David Bollier describes the scope of the report on Shareable:

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by Devra Gartenstein

The more I read and learn about cooperatives and the more experience I get participating in one, the more provocative I find the question, “What is a cooperative?”

The legal definition is reasonably clear, covering two main prerequisites:  one vote per member, and equity and profit allocations based on patronage—or participation—rather than monetary contribution.

Uberfication has become shorthand for many new concepts—from the sharing economy to any significantly disruptive digital business model. But what exactly did Uber do that was materially different to earlier disruptive digital businesses? In short:

  • It created software…

  • To replace existing industry-wide operational structures…

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[Editor's note: this video from FairShares Association provides brief introductions to two new on-line collaborative decision making tools from New Zealand's Enspiral network.  Loomio is a tool that allows group discussion and consensus building, while Cobudget is for use specifically with group budgeting decisions.  Loomio was successfully crowdfunded in 2014 and released version 1.0

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[Editor's note: this short documentary looks at the multi-faceted company Alaffia, based in Togo, West Africa.  Alaffia's three cooperatives (producing shea butter, baskets, and coconuts) provide economic independence for the women involved and fund empowerment and development projects for local communities.  In the US, Alaffia's fair trade products are sold at many food co-ops and natural food stores.  While the company may not be entirely cooperative (the US part of the company does not appear to be run cooperati

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In this inspiring talk from TEDxDouglas (Isle of Man), Valerie Miller discusses the founding of Mother T—a community center whose objective is to rebuild community, facilitate connection and tackle problems such as loneliness and isolation.  She also highlights how time banks, unlike traditional social service providers, enrolls the help of the people it supports, and focuses on the assets and abilities of community members, rather than their deficits.  Miller argues that this empowering approach has the potential to revitalize community spirit and improve people's lives and relationships.

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cross-posted from Seeds Beneath

When I first got involved in the co-op movement I didn’t do it because I thought the co-operative model was an end in itself.

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[Editor's note: In the opening speech from this year's CommonBound conference, Ed Whitfield, co-managing director of the Fund for Democratic Communities (F4DC), discusses the necessary conditions for creating an economy that provides not only the knowledge, but also the means, for economic security to everyone on an equal basis.  He discusses the intersection of economic and environmental justice, the inherent biases of  our

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[Author's note: A revised version of this paper will appear in Capital Dilemma: Growth and Inequality in Washington, DC, edited by Sabiyha Prince and Derek Hyra.]

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