Networking & Collaboration

A solidarity trade organizing effort in Greece
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Social theory perspective on building alternative economies
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By Len Krimerman

In 1995, the International Cooperative Alliance adopted seven cooperative principles to define and guide cooperatives throughout the world. Briefly stated, the "traditional seven" include: voluntary and open membership; democratic member control; member economic participation; autonomy and independence; education, training and information; cooperation among cooperatives; and concern for community.

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By Lisa Stolarski

Both Hands in the Soil

There is an ethical imperative to shift the balance of economic power away from corporate Capitalism and toward economies that benefit us all. Beginning with this assumption, I will explain how it is possible for unions and worker cooperatives to collaborate strategically to take market share away from absentee-owned and wage labor capitalist enterprises and place control of resources and production in the hands of communities of working people.

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As labor organizers, we struggle in the field every day to improve the lives of workers; we are in search of tools and alternatives for working people that will meet the needs of today's casualized and insecure workforce, with shrinking or negligible benefits. It is in the spirit of innovative leadership that we propose that the labor movement use worker cooperatives, an alternative organizing strategy added to more traditional labor organizing methods, as a means of returning control of their lives to the American working people.
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While empathizing with those who feel a sense of "inevitability" in the face of today's powerful capitalist economy (and disagreeing with those who see it as generally acceptable), I hold firmly to the perspective that a more just and democratic economy is both necessary and possible. And I believe that the greatest chance of increasing and assuring viability for the workplace democracy movement may rest in our ability to keep our "eyes on the prize"; that is, on the long term replacement of capitalism?an economy which socializes costs and privatizes benefits?with an economy of democratic cooperation?in which costs and benefits are democratically and equitably shared throughout society.
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According to its publisher's publicity release, America Beyond Capitalism "offers hope for the future." The evidence offered for this hopeful scenario is two-fold: first, that a vast array of diverse micro-level economic alternatives, consistently ignored by the mass media, is developing throughout every region of this beleaguered land; and second, that these neighborhood-, community- and state-based alternatives are heading us towards a "radical restructuring," a new homegrown all-american macro-system-beyond capitalism, beyond socialism, neither liberal, conservative, red, or blue-which Alperowitz calls a Pluralist Commonwealth (PC).
The Bolivarian Alternative for the Americas (ALBA) is aimed at striking a major blow against US hegemony, the IMF, the World Bank, "free" trade, and neo-liberalism in general. By Shawn Hattingh.
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By Robin Hahnel

Worker-owned cooperatives are wonderful alternatives to privately owned, capitalist firms. Workers can decide what they want to produce and how they want to produce it instead of having all that decided by their employers. In other words, workers can take control of their laboring capacities and use them as they see fit. Moreover, whatever benefits come from their efforts belong to them, not to an absentee owner who did none of the work.

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By Betsy Bowman & Bob Stone, GEO Collective

This Occasional Paper by editor/activists at Grassroots Economic Organizing is meant to stimulate dialog on the future of the grassroots economic democracy movement. This is a fully re-written update of an essay available since 1994 to GEO readers. We hope for wide use of this text, with attribution to the authors and GEO. Please email us with ideas/dialogue.

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By Jenna Allard and Julie Matthaei, Guramylay: Growing the Green Economy

Most of the over 10,000 people who traveled to the first-ever U.S.

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By Ethan Miller, GEO Collective

Consider this: thousands of diverse, locally-rooted, grassroots economic projects are in the process of creating the basis for a viable democratic alternative to capitalism. It might seem unlikely that a motley array of initiatives such as worker, consumer, and housing cooperatives, community currencies, urban gardens, fair trade organizations, intentional communities, and neighborhood self-help associations could hold a candle to the pervasive and seemingly all-powerful capitalist economy.

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